Fight on-Trail Pests
Keep springtime bugs at bay with this rundown of common biting insects and a pest-fighting arsenal.
When they bite: In the daytime and nighttime, from spring until after the year’s first killing frost. Where they bite: Anywhere they can reach, especially the base of your horse’s mane and tail, to the insides of his ears, and to his inner thighs. Fight them with: Constant awareness (inspect your horse closely, several times per day), prevention through the use of insect repellents (ticks remain active long after fly season ends), and prompt, careful removal. Disease they carry: Lyme disease, a multisystem inflammatory disease caused by a bacterial infection. Both you and your horse are vulnerable to this disease.
When they bite: Some will bite all day long, some are most active at sunup and sundown, and many feed in the cooler hours between dusk and dawn. Where they bite: Anywhere they can reach. Fight them with: Effective fly-control products formulated specifically for horses. Disease they carry: West Nile virus (WNV), a potentially fatal disease that multiplies in an affected horse’s blood system and infects the brain, where it interferes with the central nervous system. Fortunately, you can now vaccinate your horse against this virus, but the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective; mosquito repellents and good mosquito management are still recommended.
Sand Flies/Black Flies
When they bite: In the daytime. Where they bite: Anywhere they can reach. Fight them with: Products containing DEET or citronella oil, plus a coating of petroleum jelly inside your horse’s ears. Disease they carry: Vesicular stomatitis, a viral disease that affects both horses and humans. Equine symptoms are fever, mouth sores, and face-rubbing; humans typically develop flu-like symptoms.
Horseflies/Deer Flies/ Stable Flies
When they bite: In the daytime. Where they bite: Anywhere they can reach — and they can bite through fly sheets and stable sheets. Painful bites can cause your normally calm horse to go out of control. Fight them with: Your hand or a flat leather “popper.” Fly repellents don’t seem to impress them much. Disease they carry: Equine infectious anemia (EIA), also known as swamp fever, a chronic degenerative disease caused by a retrovirus similar to the one that causes HIV in humans. Biting flies can transfer EIA from horse to horse.
ANNIE KENNEDY ILLUSTRATIONS