Home Remedies for Fly Control on Horses, Animals

Home Remedies for Fly Control on Horses

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No horse lover wants to see her equine friends plagued by flies, but it can be a nightmare to repel them. Overuse of insecticides has caused many flies to become resistant to them. Not only are natural home remedies for fly control often more effective, they’re less costly as well.

Garlic

Garlic is a natural source of sulfur, which can help to keep flies at bay. It also produces a strong odor that flies dislike and promotes an alkaline pH in the body, while flies are attracted to acidic environments. Feed your horse a specially designed equine garlic supplement, rather than just fresh garlic cloves. Follow the manufacturer’s dosage directions, as the amount you feed will depend on the size of your horse and the brand of garlic supplement you’re using. Never exceed the recommended dosage, as overfeeding garlic can lead to anemia in horses.

Essential Oils

Certain essential oils are useful when it comes to fly control, as their scents are unpleasant to insects. These essential oils include citronella, geranium, eucalyptus, lemongrass, thyme, lavender, tea tree, pine and clove. Always dilute essential oils with water, a mild base oil, or aloe vera lotion or gel at a ratio of no more than 1 ounce of essential oils per 16 ounces of water, oil or lotion. Neat essential oils could irritate your horse’s skin. Once you’ve mixed up your essential oils, put them in a spray bottle and spritz your horse all over, avoiding his eyes.

Vinegar

Vinegar can either be used as a fly spray or fed to your horse to keep flies away. If feeding vinegar, use a food quality apple cider vinegar and feed 2 to 4 ounces per day. You can either add this to your horse’s drinking water — at a ratio of 1 cup of apple cider vinegar per 20 gallons of water — or mix it with his hay or feed. If using as a fly spray, mix one part distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar with one part water.

Prevention

While home remedies will help your horse when flies are bothering him, it’s even better to reduce the amount of flies that are around in the first place. To prevent flies from infesting your property, keep it as clean and tidy as possible. Muck out your horse’s stable daily and pick up manure from his pasture regularly. Horse flies breed in water, so try to get rid of any standing water, including rain barrels. Empty, clean out and refill all water troughs regularly to get rid of larvae.

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Make Your Own Horse Care Remedies

You’ve tried everything to treat your horse’s case of scratches. But he’s still sore—and you’re frustrated. A friend mentions a home remedy she’s used with success, and you’re tempted. It can’t hurt, right?

Illustration by Michael Witte |

It may not. It may even bring your horse relief. But it could also make the symptoms worse and create a whole new set of problems. We’ll take a look at 10 horse care situations where homemade remedies were used, and Horse & Rider contributing editor and veterinarian Karen Hayes will explain why the remedy might be effective (or not) and offer some options and advice for treatment. We’ll also look at remedies that have been used for generations («Tried and True,» below), and offer some words of warning for common horse treatments («Proceed with Caution,» below). And, just for a glimpse at how far horse care has come, we’ll dust off some of the old (and outrageous) remedies horsemen cooked up as cures («Don’t Try This at Home,»below).

As always, check with your vet for diagnosis and treatment, and ask her before trying any homemade remedy.

Anhidrosis
Problem: Sarah’s 16-year-old Quarter Horse, Wisk, isn’t breaking a sweat, even in the dead heat of summer. The vet says he has anhidrosis, a condition characterized by a horse’s inability to sweat in response to exercise or increased body temperature. Unable to cool himself, he’s not only uncomfortable, but his health is compromised.
Reader Remedy: A friend suggests pouring a pint of Guinness beer in his grain ration once a day during the summer. It’s an old racetrack remedy she says helps him pop a sweat.
Vet’s View: It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Although there’s no scientifically proven treatment for anhidrosis, there are anecdotal accounts of up to 80 percent «cure» when affected horses are given supplemental vitamin C and one or more of the B-vitamins.While the more refined, filtered beers tend to have less of these vitamins, the more robust, stout beers such as Guinness contain decent levels of these and other nutrients. However, equivalent «cures» have been reported when anhidrotic horses are simply protected from hot/humid conditions for at least a month, and are either given the month off from exercise or worked only at night during the break. So, should you give your horse a cold one, or a cool break from the heat and humidity? I’d start with the break. And, if he’ll drink the beer, I suppose it can’t hurt. as long as it’s in moderation.

Rain Rot
Problem: A few hours after Lynn brought her Paint gelding, Ty, in from the rain, she noticed his hair began to stand up in a pattern in one area, and the area felt warm. He also seemed sensitive to touch. The next day, sensitive scabs appeared and Lynn realized he has rain rot—a skin condition caused by Dermatophilus spp., bacteria commonly present on a horse’s hair coat. Rain, followed by humid conditions, enables the organism to multiply,which irritates the hair follicles and skin of afflicted horses.
Reader Remedy: Her trainer suggests a homemade cure of equal parts Listerine and baby oil. Lynn rubs the concoction onto the affected areas and it seems to help.
Vet’s View: In my opinion, that recipe is on the right track, but it could use a tweak. Listerine contains alcohol, which can irritate your horse’s skin. The organism that causes rain rot is taking advantage of the fact that waterlogged skin is immune-compromised, and irritating that skin can make it even more vulnerable to infection. For my clients, I’ve recommended a milder concoction that admittedly makes a mess, but it works. Mix a 16-ounce bottle of mineral oil (baby oil is OK), a 16-ounce bottle of 3 percent USP hydrogen peroxide, and a half-ounce bottle of tincture of iodine in a bucket. Sponge it on the affected areas and let it set overnight. This will soften and lift the scabs, soothe and lubricate the skin, and kill the bug. Next day, shampoo your horse with a mild shampoo and let the area air-dry, preferably in the sun. NOTE: Don’t put this concoction in a sealed container. It’ll bubble up and explode.

Scratches
Problem: Several weeks of spring thaw and rainy weather makes a muddy mess at the barn, and Jeri’s 8-year-old Morgan, Bender, seems to actually like standing up to his fetlocks in the muddiest spot in the pasture. When she brings him in to clean him up, she notices he’s a little sore, and has scabby, cracked areas near his heels. Her vet diagnoses scratches (AKA greasy heel, cracked heel, or foot rot), an equine bacterial infection.
Reader Remedy: Another rider at the barn tells Jeri about a remedy that worked on her horse—and one that was only as far as the grocery store: sauerkraut. She applies the deli concoction onto the affected area, wraps it with plastic wrap, and leaves it on overnight. The next day she washes the leg, dries it thoroughly, and repeats for several days.
Vet’sView: I’d rather see the sauerkraut on a Reuben sandwich, but I can understand why this weird treatment might work: The high vinegar content in sauerkraut helps the skin attain a lower pH (more acidic), which is generally a healthier state for skin. A slightly acidic environment is also inhospitable for various fungal organisms. Still, it’s highly unlikely that a true case of scratches would respond quickly to this treatment. Scratches is known to be a stubborn, chronic condition that is tough to beat with any therapy. I’d focus my energy on getting the horse on high, dry ground so his skin isn’t forced to defend itself while waterlogged and filthy.

Lameness Caused by Splints
Problem: Mary’s 3-year-old Thoroughbred, Clockwork, has been diagnosed with splints, an injury that occurs when a horse damages the connection between the splint bone and the cannon bone. He seems to be lame, and she’s wondering what she can do when it makes him sore. A friend who’s been around horses for years tells her about an old-time remedy. She figures she’ll try it.
Reader Remedy: Mix 1-gallon apple cider vinegar, one jar of alum (for pickling), and one small bottle of oil of wintergreen. Shake well, and apply liberally to the swelling and surrounding areas. Apply standing bandage.
Vet’s View: Because the pain and swelling of a simple splint tend to be intermittent and resolve themselves over time, it probably doesn’t matter what (if anything) you put on the splint—it’ll «work!»

Flies
Problem: A plague of nasty flies are driving Julie and her horses crazy. She doesn’t think her fly spray is working—or it’s wearing off too quickly.
Reader Remedy: Julie finds a recipe online for homemade fly spray and decides to give it a try. The recipe mixes apple cider vinegar, dish detergent, salad oil, and citronella oil. But the reaction her horses have is less than favorable—the mixture seems to irritate the horses more than the flies.
Vet’s View: It’s not hard to figure out why this concoction didn’t result in a happy ending. The apple cider vinegar might be helpful because it’s acidic, and skin is generally happier (and better able to defend itself ) when it’s slightly acidic. However, if you’ve ever washed any of your own body parts with dish detergent, and left it on without rinsing it off, you know how irritating that can be. Salad oil is fly food, so that’s not a particularly good thing to add if you’re trying to discourage the pests. And although there are some documented insect-repellent properties of citronella essential oil, if there’s more than a drop or two of the oil in the concoction, it can be extremely irritating. And, if Julie used the kind of citronella oil sold for backyard torches, that stuff is pretty unrefined and even more likely to be irritating.

Proud Flesh
Problem: Melinda’s yearling Appaloosa filly, Mars, jumped into the side of a gate and ended up with a nasty cut along her cannon bone. Instead of healing cleanly, it’s filling with pink, fleshy tissue called «proud flesh.»
Reader Remedy: Melinda knows of two remedies for proud flesh: One is simply applying the human remedy, Preparation H; the other is applying a handful of dry, granulated white sugar. She’s wondering if both—or either—will help.
Vet’s View: There are three things you need to keep proud flesh from getting out of hand. One is cleanliness—the wound must be kept scrupulously clean. The second is lack of irritation—anything that irritates proud flesh tissue stimulates it to grow. The third requirement is light pressure, about the same amount of pressure applied by normal skin. The best home remedy for cleaning a wound is to gently irrigate it with a homemade saline solution of 1 teaspoon table salt dissolved in 1 cup of distilled water. Once it’s clean, Preparation H can be helpful. It contains mineral oil, petrolatum, and shark liver oil (all of which soothe and protect), and phenylephrine (which constricts superficial blood vessels and may slow the growth of the proud flesh). Preparation H is to be applied to a wound that’s already filled in with granulation tissue (which is what proud flesh is made of ), not to a fresh wound. Otherwise, petrolatum and mineral oil could seep down into the crevices in the open wound and interfere with healing. Although a handful of sugar will kill bacteria, it’s irritating to the tissues, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Depending on the wound I’m treating, after cleaning and soothing it, I might apply a bandage with just enough pressure to keep the proud flesh from growing and keep the wound bandaged (replacing it regularly) until skin grows over.

Cracked Hooves
Problem: Kim has a 5-year-old grade gelding named Bear with a vertical crack running up the front of his front hoof. She’s been trying to let the crack grow out, but it just inches up, and trimming isn’t taking care of it. She doesn’t show, and Bear doesn’t wear shoes, but her farrier wants to put shoes on him to help take care of the crack.
Reader Remedy: In hopes of not having to shoe Bear, Kim heads to the hardware store and picks up some Gorilla Glue. The crack is «open» but not deep enough to compromise any sensitive material. She fills it with glue. The next day, the crack is tightly closed.
Vet’s View: This could work, but there’s a potential problem if there’s any contamination in the crack. The glue will seal it in, and could cause a destructive infection. I think Kim should consult her veterinarian before taking this bull by the horns.

Colic
Problem: Bill’s 9-year-old Arabian, Jewel, colics mildly—but often. He wants to try adding a supplement to her diet in hopes of cutting down on her colic frequency.
Reader Remedy: With his vet’s approval, he feeds her 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice with her regular feed, morning and evening.
Vet’s View: Most colic home remedies worry me because the number one thing you have to do before you treat recurrent colic is to try and figure out why it’s happening and address that. Although aloe vera juice is reputed to soothe upset human tummies, horses that colic over and over usually have an underlying problem that’s not going to go away with aloe vera treatment

TRIED AND TRUE

Walk into just about any barn, and you’re likely to find these longtime, well-respected remedies still being used:

114 Years Old: Absorbine Liniment
In 1892, former piano salesman Wilbur Fenelon Young developed a formula of herbs and essential oils that helped reduce a horse’s discomfort and swelling without blistering. He and his wife, Mary Ida, created Absorbine Veterinary Liniment in a tub in their farmhouse kitchen.
Uses: Mild analgesic for sore muscles, antiseptic for minor cuts, antifungal body wash. Helps prevent hoof and sole infections.

107 Years Old: Bag Balm
In 1899 John L. Norris bought the formula for Bag Balm from its original creator in the little town of Wells River, Vt. The salve was created to soften cow udders. It soon found its way into the horseman’s tool kit (and eventually made its way to human medicine cabinets; reportedly, it’s a favorite of Shania Twain’s.)
Uses: Bag balm is a compound of petrolatum, lanolin, and a small amount of antiseptic. It’s a good emollient and protectant, but not for use on open wounds.

100 Years Old: Corona Ointment
Developed in 1906 outisde Kenton, Ohio, dairy farmers used Corona to protect their cows’ skin from the effects of the cold.
Uses: As the ointment grew in popularity, more people began using the medicine to treat saddle sores and hoof problems—and eventually, chapped and cracked hands.

68 Years Old: Shapley’s M-T-G
In 1938, a barber named Henry E. Shapley in Waterloo, Iowa, formulated a product for dandruff and psoriasis. Like a typical horse lover, his formula soon made its way to the barn—as Shapley’s Original M-T-G (Mane-Tail-Groom).
Uses: A leave-in conditioner/detangler; also a dermatitis treatment for a variety of skin problems including: fungus, rain rot, girth itch, scratches, dandruff, and tail rubbing. Always test a small area before applying it liberally over your horse’s coat.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Using the right remedy, at the right time, in the right way is critical. These treatments can be effective—or they can make things worse. Make sure you know how to use them correctly before you try them on your horse.

DMSO

Used for: Reducing swelling.

Caution: Should never be applied to fresh wounds or areas
that may develop a bruise or hematoma. While a wound is still fresh (and possibly weeping blood), DMSO can exacerbate the bleeding and result in expansion of the wound, turning a small bruise into an enormous hematoma. Also, because DMSO is rapidly absorbed through the skin and can «carry’ certain compounds with it, be very careful what you mix with DMSO, and only apply it to skin that has been cleaned of all liniments, blisters, etc., which can contain ingredients that would be toxic if taken internally.

Kopertox

Used for: Thrush

Caution: Some people put it on flesh wounds. Don’t! It’s toxic and irritating and will kill delicate tissues.

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How To Get Rid of Fruit Flies with a Homemade Fruit Fly Trap

How To Get Rid of Fruit Flies

At one point in your life, you have probably seen those gnats flying around in your kitchen — more specifically, around rotten fruits. Drosophila melanogaster, known as fruit flies, can be a problem year-round but are more common during summer. This is because fruits that are not in the fridge tend to get ripe faster when the weather is warm.

These insects can be found in homes, supermarkets, restaurants, and anywhere else where rotting or fermented food is present. Without a doubt, the sight of fruit flies is more than enough to make anyone feel annoyed and disgusted. But how exactly can you deal with fruit flies?

Read on to find out.

What are fruit flies?

Before you learn the tricks to rid your home of these pesky fruit flies, it’s crucial that you have a better understanding of what they are. Adult fruit flies measures around an eighth of an inch and is recognisable by their red eyes. The front portion of their bodies is tan while the rear end is usually black.

The entire lifecycle of a fruit fly, from egg to adulthood, can be completed in about a week. One overly ripe fruit may not be such a big deal but be warned. Female fruit flies are able to lay up to 500 eggs during their lifetime which means that by the time you discovered the source, it’s likely that there’s an infestation already.

Moreover, decaying fruits and anything sweet aren’t the only breeding grounds of fruit flies. They can also increase their numbers in drains, trash cans, cleaning rags, empty cans and bottles, and the list can go on and on. Basically, all they need to reproduce is a moist film of fermenting material.

This is what makes fruit flies very persistent creatures. Even if you’ve already found and removed the offending produce, they can still linger in your home if there are other damp areas present.

The dangers of fruit flies

Fruit flies don’t bite, so that’s one less thing for you to worry about. In fact, you wouldn’t get sick from accidentally ingesting a fruit fly although that’s going to be really disgusting. To be specific, there is not even a single illness out there that will result from ingesting fruit flies. You can get sick from eating spoiled food like fruits, but fruit flies are not to blame if ever that happens.

So does this mean it’s okay to let fruit flies roam around freely in your home?

Although they may be harmless, the primary concern with fruit flies are the things that they potentially carry with them. These winged insects can smell the sweet scents of rotted fruits from miles away. To make matters worse, you don’t know where they’ve been before finding their way into your home. Fruit flies could potentially transmit diseases if they flew into something that’s contaminated which puts you and your family at risk.

On a bigger scale, the spread of fruit flies has been attributed to fruits being transferred from one country to another. From this, one can assume that the possibility of fruit flies carrying viruses and bacteria is high. Once they’re inside your house, it gets dangerous when they find their way into things like plates, toothbrushes, cutlery, etc.

How fruit flies get into homes

Prevention is always better than cure.

That said, it is better to restrict fruit flies access to your home than have to deal with them when they’re already inside. There are two common ways fruit flies are able to get into your household. Knowing how they’re able to do so will give you a better idea on how to impede an infestation.

As mentioned earlier, fruit flies are attracted to the sweet scent that a rotting fruit produces. They have an excellent sense of smell that they are able to find that one overripe apple from miles away. Now, you might be asking how it’s possible when your doors and windows are always closed and here’s how they do so.

Unfortunately, even the tiniest of crevices around doors and windows are more than enough to provide entry for fruit flies. They can also fly right through your window screen! Once inside, they’ll feast on produce that’s about to go bad. In the process, the females will lay eggs which will hatch into larvae in just a few hours.

Fruit flies can also hitch a ride from the outside through the produce you bought from groceries. Even if fruit flies are not visibly present, it’s possible that there are already eggs on the skins of fruits and veggies in your shopping bag.

Gardening, despite its many benefits, can also cause fruit flies infestation. For instance, growing tomatoes at home is an excellent way to enjoy fresh produce any time of the day. Fruit flies are very likely to get their hands on your precious tomatoes if you allow them to become overly ripe before picking. This just goes to show why bad timing is one of the most common gardening mistakes.

In gardening, nothing beats having your own sustainably-created compost . After all, this allows you to not only fertilise your plans, but you also recycle food waste. And since your compost bin is where you’ll throw fruit peels, leftovers, and other organic matter in, this makes it a perfect breeding ground for fruit flies.

Try composting in a compost bin with a lid, rather than an open bin. The lid will help restrict fruit flies from getting to your composting leftovers.

You may also enjoy growing fruit trees in your garden. However, not pruning your fruit tree enough can be a massive mistake . It is inevitable that they will drop some of their fruit, and as the tree gets bigger, the fruit will fall closer to your home. Either keep on top of yearly pruning, or make sure to pick up any fruit as soon as it drops.

Homemade fruit fly trap

A homemade fruit fly trap is your best friend when dealing with these pests. They are so easy to make, and most of the materials that you’ll need are readily available in your home. What’s more, these traps have been proven to be effective.

So if you’re having problems with fruit flies, the next homemade fruit fly traps are worth trying out.

Apple cider vinegar trap

This is probably one of the most common homemade fruit fly trap there is, and rightly so. Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples so there’s no way that fruit flies will be able to resist its scent. And lucky you because fruit flies aren’t really that smart. Once this trap is set up, they’ll waste no time and dive right in.

  • A container (mason jar or something similar)
  • About half a cup of apple cider vinegar
  • Funnel (one that’s made out of paper should work just fine)
  • Dish soap
  • A piece of ripe or overripe fruit (optional)

Pour about half a cup of apple cider vinegar into the container. For better results, consider boiling the apple cider vinegar before making the trap to release more of its scent and increase the chance of attracting fruit flies. A piece of ripe or overripe fruit will also do an excellent job of making your trap more enticing.

Form a makeshift funnel by rolling a piece of paper and insert it into the mouth of the jar. Don’t forget to tape the funnel in place. Finally, add a drop of dish soap to break the surface tension of the liquid so the fruit flies will drown once inside.

Place the trap near the area where you suspect most of the fruit flies are (garbage can, compost bin, etc.). The fruit flies will try to get inside the jar but will not be able to figure out how to get out. You can reuse the trap for as many times as you want but be warned that the sight of it can be really disgusting.

Jar trap with fruit

Fruit flies are called fruit flies because they’re attracted to fruits. That is why it only makes sense to make a trap made from fruits. Anything that is sweet should do the trick. This is also an excellent way to take care of unconsumed produce.

  • Some very ripe or overripe produce (apples, bananas, tomatoes, etc.)
  • A glass jar
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber band
  • Toothpick
  • Bucket of soapy water

On the bottom of the glass jar, put some overripe fruits or even those that are already beginning to rot. Cover the glass jar with the plastic wrap and use a rubber band to secure it well. Create small holes in the wrap using a toothpick — this will serve as the entryways for the flies.

If you made multiple jar traps, be sure to place each of them strategically around the house. Ideally, you’d want them set up in areas where you think they are coming from or where they converge.

Similar to the apple cider vinegar trap, the fruit flies will undoubtedly be attracted to the scent of the fruits inside the jar. They’ll be able to get inside but will not be able to get out. Once you decide that the jar is full enough, submerge the container in a bucket of warm soapy water and leave it be for ten minutes. Discard its contents and repeat the process as many times as necessary.

Red wine catcher trap

It may sound silly, but fruit flies can get intoxicated just as humans do. Since red wine is made from fermented fruit, there’s no way that they’ll be able to resist this treat. In fact, you might have seen fruit flies congregate around a bottle of red wine that’s been left open — that’s how attracted these creatures are to its scent.

So if you enjoy drinking red wine, spare some of it to catch annoying fruit flies. What’s nice about this trap is that it’s so inexpensive, it doesn’t emit a strong odour, and it’s super easy to clean.

  • Any bottom shelf red wine
  • Dish soap (preferably unscented)
  • A small glass bowl

Start by adding a few drops of dish soap into the glass bowl. The reason why it’s advisable to use unscented dish soap is to not overpower the scent of the red wine. Pour red wine into the glass bowl but be careful not to pour directly on the dish soap to avoid creating suds.

Stir the solution gently until the dish soap is completely dissolved into the wine. Place the bowl on a hard flat surface, away from high traffic areas. You don’t want it to be accidentally spilt especially if there are already many fruit flies inside. Flush the contents of the bowl into the toilet once full and repeat the process until you no longer see any fruit fly around.

This trap will also work without the glass bowl. You can just leave a little bit of red wine on the bottle and let it sit out. This should also attract fruit flies though it may not be as effective when using a glass bowl.

Additional tips to get rid of fruit flies

Homemade fruit fly traps work, that’s a fact. But as mentioned earlier, prevention is better than cure. With that being the case, it’s very important not to have anything in your house that will attract fruit flies. Here are steps that you can take to do just that.

Take care of rotting fruits and veggies

If you’re new to growing your own, or you chose difficult vegetables to grow , there’s always the chance that some will go bad. Make it a habit of disposing of any produce that is beyond ripe, oozing liquid, and that has been cut or broken.

If you plan to eat it later on, be sure that you store it in the fridge or put it in an air-tight sealed container. If not, don’t waste time and take it to the trash. But before you do, make sure that you put it securely in the trash bag and clean up the mess that’s left behind.

Clean your dishes immediately

Don’t wait until the end of the day to clean your dishes especially if they have residues like jelly or wine. When you take the scraps off into the garbage, see to it that you take the trash outside promptly as well. If you’re using a dishwasher, rinse the dishes and load it, then run the load as soon as possible.

Thoroughly wash fruits and veggies

Since fruit flies can also come from the produce you’re buying from groceries, it’s very important that you clean them thoroughly. If you have to wash them twice or even thrice just to make sure that no traces of fruit fly eggs are left, do so. Additionally, fruits and veggies should be consumed immediately as soon as they are ripe.

Clean your kitchen extensively

Small cleaning jobs in the kitchen should be enough like mopping of floors, wiping stovetops, fridge, etc. But at the very least, your kitchen should go through extensive cleaning once a month. For all you know, there could be food bits underneath areas that are usually hard to reach which can potentially be breeding grounds of fruit flies.

Conclusion

If you think you’ve tried everything and yet you can still see fruit flies roaming around freely in your home, it might be an excellent indication to seek professional help. On the brighter side, a lot of people have vouched for the effectivity of homemade fruit fly traps mentioned here.

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