How To Get Rid Of Horse Flies

How To Get Rid Of Horse Flies

If you keep horses, then horse flies are a pest that you need to keep on top of.

They are a dangerous type of pest that can seriously hurt your horses, so just how do you get rid of them? 

Well, we have found some of the most effective methods of killing horse flies to help keep your horses safe. Check them out down below and hopefully, you will find the answer that you need to get rid of your horse fly plague. 

What Are Horse Flies?

Horse flies are an aggressive breed of flies that are infamous for their biting. 

They attack large and dark moving objects, tearing and cutting flesh with their large mandibles. Their bites are very painful and irritating as their mandibles are shaped like scissors and easily cut flesh and skin.

Their mandibles also have small hooks that let them lock on and feed from the skin they have bitten. 

Horse flies are distinctive from house flies and other kinds of flies as they are generally quite large (around 1 inch long). They are also yellow-brownish or black in color, so they resemble honey bees although horse flies only have one pair of wings. 

These pests can usually be found in pastures near bodies of waters like creeks or streams as this is where they tend to breed. They are drawn to damp and warm climates and anywhere they can find a steady food source – like barns and stables. 

Horse flies are especially known for being a nuisance for livestock and cattle, constantly biting and drawing blood from all kinds of animals. Although their bite is painful, it is not generally not harmful – unless you are a horse. 

Horse Flies And Swamp Fever

Horse flies are notorious for carrying diseases that affect horses. One life threatening disease is called equine infectious anemia, also known as swamp fever or EIA. 

If a horse is infected with swamp fever, they will start with a fever before hemorrhaging and falling seriously ill. This can then lead to weight loss and anemia, or kill a horse. Although not all horses experience any symptoms, they can still carry the disease and infect other horses. 

Swamp fever can also affect ponies, mules and donkeys. 

This is why it is so important for you to reduce the number of horse flies that pester your horses as if you ignore the problem, you could end up with a potentially very ill or dead horse. 

So How Do You Get Rid Of Them? 

Well, there are quite a few methods of getting rid of horse flies. Finding the most successful one for you can sometimes take some trial and error, but here are the most common methods a lot of horse owners use to get rid of any horse flies that are plaguing their stables.

How To Get Rid Of Horse Flies

Fly Traps 

Setting up a few fly traps around your stables should capture a fair amount, if not all, of the horse flies in the area. There are a few different types of fly traps that you can choose from. 

One type is the disposable fly trap that uses fly tapes or papers to hang from a ceiling or beam. They contain an attractant that activates with sunlight and water, creating a chemical that will lure horse flies to it.

Once the horse fly steps onto the paper, they will stick to it and be unable to escape until they die.

These kinds of fly traps can catch around 20,000 flies during a few weeks so stock up on a few and keep replacing them when they get too full. 

You can also use mechanical traps where the horse flies will travel through a one way cone into a plastic bag where they cannot move. They are once again lured in by an attractant that is activated by water.

Eventually, the horse flies will drown – so all you need to do is set up a few of these around your stable and add some water. 

Fly traps are one of the most effective ways to get rid of horse flies as it attracts them easily and kills them.

As the flies cannot escape, they are doomed from the moment they either enter the cone or land on the sticky paper. Plus, these traps are harmless to humans and animals so they are safe to hang around the infected areas.

How To Get Rid Of Horse Flies

Bug Zappers And Lamps

Just like with all other kinds of flies, horse flies are attracted to light and ultraviolet light so if you set up a few bug zappers around your stable, they are sure to fly into the light and be killed with electrical metal grids.  

There are also lamps that you can set up that also attract and electrocute horse flies. The flies cannot escape once they enter the lamp’s construction, so they are trapped there until they are electrocuted and die. 

While this is definitely an efficient way to kill horse flies, it does come with a few negatives that the fly traps do not. 

Bug zappers and lamps require regular cleaning once they have killed a certain number of horse flies, so that will be a chore for you to do.

Plus they require electricity to work and can release an unpleasant smell when they have electrocuted a horse fly. The smell does not linger and is only momentary, but still unpleasant nonetheless.

How To Get Rid Of Horse Flies

Fly Repellents 

Using fly repellents can be tricky. 

On one hand they are very effective against horse flies but the chemicals they contain can sometimes be harmful to your animals and environment.

There are commercial fly repellents out there that you may be able to use but it is always best to consult with your vet first. 

You can also make your own homemade repellents using white vinegar, water and eucalyptus oil that can be sprayed directly onto your horses’ skin to repel horse flies. Of course, this is not a guaranteed solution and requires constant reapplication.

The same goes for any lavender oil repellents or soap sprays you may be tempted to use. 

You can also spray these repellents onto the horse flies themselves and see an instant reaction. It should be able to kill them instantly so this method is definitely a good option for those looking for a cost effective way to treat their horse fly infestation. 


So there you have it! These are a few of the most effective methods to use when it comes to killing horse flies. 

We recommend that you set up a few horse fly traps, either disposable or mechanical, as either are very effective and only need replacing once they have killed so many horse flies. A fly zap is also a good option, although it can be a pain to clean.

You can also spray your horses with homemade repellents to keep horse flies from biting and infecting them until you have the situation under control.

Catherine McDowl
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