Ahhhhh nothing like going for that evening walk, or perhaps a nice long walk on the trail, either alone or on your horse, where you can hear the birds chirping and nature all around you. The smell of green foliage fills the air. The sun is literally singing to you as you…..bzzzzzzzz….hear something zoom by your head! Then again. Then again. Annoying fly you think to yourself. You decide to ignore it and then suddenly you hear nothing. Ahhhhh, lost him, as you continue on your soul soothing stroll….then WHAM! A sharp pain pierces your arm. It’s a HORSEFLY! At this point you basically just try to out run it, dodging and weaving along the way.

The horsefly, also known the “dun-fly” due to its muted colors, has dull yellow markings that resemble those of a bee. They have very large eyes, very small antennae. Their bodies are wider than the average fly and can grow as large as an inch in length.

Where do Horse Flies Come From?

The horse fly prefers to breed in moist soil near large bodies of water, but can roam up to 30 miles away.

Horse flies are mostly found in low lying pastures near creeks, streams or tanks. They love damp and warm climate as such climates are most preferable for the immature stages to develop. Female species feed on animal blood while male counterparts are pollen collectors.

Feeding Habits:

The females feed on blood while the males feed on flower nectar, honeydew, plant juices, and other plant liquids. In larva stages they feed on small insects.

Life Cycle:

Eggs are laid on or under vegetation usually close to a water source. On hatching, the larvae move into water or moist soil. And during this time they feed on small insects or replies. Larvae are generally whitish and spindle-shaped. The larval stage is up to an year long, after this the larvae burrow into the soil, starts to pupate.  The pupal period may range from 6 to 12 days. Adult flies emerge out of the puparium within 3-10 weeks.


  • The bite of a horse fly is very painful.
  • They can transmit diseases such as leucocytozoan, anaplasmosis, hog cholera, tularemia and anthrax.

Interesting Facts about Horse Flies:

  • Horse fly belongs to ‘tabanidae’ family, and these are one of the world’s largest flies.
  • Horseflies are found throughout the world except far northern and southern latitudes.
  • There are approximately 3,000 species of horse flies in the world. Whoa!
  • Male horse flies do not bite as they do not have biting mouth parts, hence they feed on flower nectar.
  • A horse fly larva takes a year to become an adult but an adult only lives for a few days.
  • Horseflies have different names – for example: in Canada people call them ‘ bull dog flies’ and in Australia people call them ‘ March flies’. I call them pains in the butt!

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies

Disposable fly traps are one of the best methods to trap horse flies. These traps contain an attractant that gets activated by sunlight and water. After getting activated the attractant lures the horse flies to enter the trap, once the flies enter the trap they get trapped.

Commercial sprays can also help.

 Homemade Repellents for Horse Flies:

Repellent 1:

To make this repellent mix the following contents and store them in a bottle.

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Avon Skin So Soft (Bath oil)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon eucalyptus oil

You could use the repellent directly on the skin of your pets.

Note: Before using this please consult your Vet.

Repellent 2:

To make this repellent mix the following contents and store them in a bottle.

  • 1 cup light mineral oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. citronella oil
  • 1 tsp. eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon dish soap

You could use the repellent directly on the skin of your pets.

Note: Before using this please consult your Vet.

Repellent 3:

To make this repellent mix the following contents and store them in a bottle.

  • 1 part of lavender oil
  • 2 parts of water
  • 2 parts of alcohol

Essential Oils

To make this home-based fly repellent, you need following things:

  • 1. ½ -1 cup of Lavender Oil. In case you don’t have Lavender Oil you could also use Citronella oil, Eucalyptus oil, Pennyroyal oil, Peppermint oil or Lemongrass oil. These oils have strong fly repellent properties and hence we are using them.
  • A clean piece of cloth or a small piece of dish sponge. As we are relying on liquid repellents in this method, so the job of a cloth or sponge would be to absorb the liquid repellent and latter release it when required.

Prevention Tips against Horseflies:

  • You can help control horse flies through horse feed additives. The additives help stop flies forming in manure.
  • Keep your horses and ponies clean.
  • Using fly traps.
  • Clean up the barn at least twice a week.
  • Remove any standing water in the shed and make sure there is no stagnant water for the horseflies to lay eggs.
  • Trim the grass and weeds.
  • Using fans in animal sheds can significantly control the entry of horse flies.
  • Use ear nets and fly masks and sheets on your animals horses.

Hopefully these tips help cut down on your horseflies so you and your horses can relax a little more and enjoy those walks!

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