Horseflies – The Bane of Horses

Horseflies – The Bane of Horses

Horse flies most likely bear such a name because they are often seen near horses. They are not however, merely harmless insects. Horse flies can cause horses real pain and can even bring about some forms of horse disease.


The Horse Fly

Horseflies are larger than common house flies. Their sizes typically vary between a little under and a little over an inch. They often have black bodies and clear wings. Female horse flies are really the ones to worry about because they feed on blood. They do this by using their sharp mandibles to wound horses and then lap up the blood from the wound. Despite their name, they do not just feed on the blood of horses. They can feed on the blood of any mammal, including cattle and humans.

Horse flies are said to live and thrive where there are forests or wooded areas nearby. They may lay their eggs in water, both stagnant and running, or on moist ground and plants. There seem to be more horse flies when the temperature is warm. This means horses and humans are more prone to horse bites in the summer.

There would have been no problem if horse fly bites were as harmless as a regular mosquito bite. For horses however, a horse fly bite can be a major source of discomfort. Flies that gather over horses can result in numerous bites. Horses that get repeatedly bitten may loose their appetite for food and activity.

In some cases, horse flies can also transmit Equine Infectious Anemia. Aside from the obvious depletion of blood in the system, this disease can also cause general weakness, heartbeat irregularities and swelling of the chest, stomach and legs. In its severe form, the disease can kill the infected horse. If infected horses are not isolated and treated, other horses could get infected. Foals can get it from their mothers or their mothers’ milk. While other horses may get it from sharing needles used for other treatment or maintenance medications.

What You Can Do

The problem with horse flies is that they cannot be dealt with decisively. If you decide to wipe out all the flies in sight, you may end up destroying environmental systems or harming other animals. Spraying pesticide for example over a large area could affect or even kill other animals and plants in the area. It is also physically impossible to remove all wet and moist areas where flies could be breeding. Even if this were possible for a group of horse owners, small environmental systems would be negatively affected.

Some homeowners resort to a variety of sticky fly traps. Since horse flies love movement, it is often a good idea to use attractive traps that can be moved around a pasture on a van or open cart. Horse flies normally do not live in stables but it wouldn’t hurt if you made sure that stables are always clean and dry.

Horse flies are indeed a bane to horses. They are however, even more of an inconvenience to horse owners who have to deal with irritated or sickly horses.

Scott Summers is an avid horse enthusiast. If you want to learn more about horses and horsemanship,

Source by: scott summers

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