Fight on-Trail Pests

Trail Rider - - SEASONAL GUIDE -

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.


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