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Discover The Facts About Fly Repellents

As we make the transition in to the warmer months of spring and summer, one major problem all horse owners will agree on is flies! Flies rely mainly on smell to find their prey (such as horses). Although other senses, such as sight may be used to varying extents - depending on the type of insect. Repellents work by releasing strong scent molecules, which confuse the insect by mixing in with and masking the smell of the horse, so they are unable to home in on the smell of the horse. Trying to find their ’victims’ through these added smells is like us trying to see a distant object through fog. Bearing all this in mind, the term 'repellent' is misleading, as these products don’t actually repel the insects but rather confuse their sense of smell. Although the flies may eventually leave, it’s not because they were driven away by the smell, but rather they simply moved on as they couldn’t find their way to their prey due to the additional smells produced by the 'repellent'. Fly repellents for horses are available as ready to use sprays, which tend to be the most convenient method of applying the repellent onto the majority of horses. Wipes, gels, roll ons and creams are ideal for use on horses that are anxious about the sprays, or for sensitive areas such as around the mouth, eyes and wounds. NAF Off Citronella Tags are a different type of weapon in the fight against flies. They’re long lasting, highly scented silicone tags that can be attached to tack, or plaited into manes and tails when the horse is turned out. Natural Fly Repellents These are solutions that you can apply to your horse throughout the day and they’ll repel flying insects such as midges. If you opt for a natural fly repellent, then it’s highly likely that the product is going to contain something called citronella. Citronella oil is extracted from lemon grass and has been used as a natural repellent for decades. Whilst citronella oil is an effective repellent, it does require application directly to the skin every few hours to be effective. In some cases, you might need something a little more effective than a natural fly repellent – especially if your horse suffers badly with sweet itch. This is where the synthetic repellents come in. Naf Off Deet Power Synthetic Fly Repellents Some people tend to be a bit wary of using products that contain man-made (synthetic) chemicals. However, if your horse is suffering from stress caused by flies and a natural repellent just isn’t keeping the insects at bay, it might be time to try something a little more powerful. Synthetic fly repellents typically contain a chemical called DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide). This is a highly effective repellent that was originally developed by the Armed Forces in order to repel insects in the jungle! Most synthetic fly repellents for horses will not contain more than 20% DEET, but this is enough to provide protection for a number of hours at a time. DEET repellents usually only need only be applied 2-4 times a day. Other Options If you can cover your horse’s face, ears and body with fly sheets and fly masks, this can help reduce the amount of flies that can reach the skin of your horse. Alternatively you can bring your horse in from the field when flies are most active – this tends to be dawn and dusk. If you do use insect repellents, a combination of a DEET repellent and a natural repellent is thought to work the best. Killitch Sweet Itch Sweet Itch is when your horse or pony has an allergic reaction to biting midges. The summer months are when Sweet Itch is most likely to occur as this is when midges are most active. Keep an eye on the condition of your horse’s skin, this way you’ll be able to act fast if you notice that your horse is reacting to midge bites. There are products available, such as Dermoline Sweet Itch Lotion and Killitch, that will treat the allergic reaction, soothe the skin and help to repel the midges.

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