Pest Away Tips

10 Natural and Chemical Ways to Control Horse Flies and Prevent Biting and Sickness

Horse flies, scientifically known as Tabanidae, are blood-sucking insects that belong to the order Diptera. These pests are found all over the world and, as their name suggests, they love to feed on horses.

However, they also target other animals and humans. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about horse flies, including how they look, where they live, and their behavior.

We will also discuss how to get rid of horse flies and keep them away naturally to prevent biting and sickness. What are Horse Flies?

Horse flies are considered some of the world’s most painful insects due to their blood-sucking abilities and sharp, serrated mouthparts for piercing the skin. They are large, approximately 1 inch in size, and have distinctive wings that are iridescent, colored, and veined.

Their eyes are also distinctively large and, in some cases, have distinctive colors such as green or brown. Horse flies are usually brown, black, or gray in color, and some species have colored stripes or markings on their bodies.

Female horse flies feed on blood to reproduce, while male horse flies feed on nectar. Horse flies are often mistaken for deer flies, which are similar in appearance, but smaller and have clear wings.

Are Horse Flies Parasites? Horse flies are considered external parasites because they feed on the blood of other animals or humans.

Although a few bites are not lethal to the host, continuous blood-sucking can cause anemia, weight loss, and sickness. Horse flies have also been known to transmit animal diseases such as equine infectious anemia.

This is a viral disease that can cause fever, weakness, blood loss, and even death in horses. Where Do Horse Flies Live?

Horse flies are usually found around streams, ponds, swamps, and forest soils, where they lay their eggs. They are aquatic insects that require water during their larval stage.

They prefer shallow freshwater sources with slow-moving water and shaded areas. Horse flies are also attracted to groundwater and sewage water, which provides them with a good breeding ground.

What is the Horse Fly’s Life Cycle? The horse fly life cycle consists of four stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult flies.

Female horse flies deposit their eggs on vegetation near water, and once hatched, the larvae drop into the water. The larvae feed on organic matter and other invertebrates, and after several molts, they move to the pupal stage.

Adult horse flies emerge from their pupal cases and locate a food source. Are Horse Flies Aggressive?

Horse flies are aggressive insects that inflict painful bites due to the cutting edges of their mouthparts. They will bite humans for a blood meal, but prefer large animals such as cows and horses.

When disturbed, horse flies persistently pursue their prey and continue biting to feed. What are Horse Flies Attracted to?

Horse flies are attracted to water sources and can detect their prey from more than 100 meters away. Dark-colored clothing also attracts horse flies.

However, they can be deterred by natural insect repellents such as water-based sprays, lavender sprays or oils, and vinegar sprays. Do Horse Flies Bite?

Yes, horse flies do bite, and their bites can cause redness, swelling, itching, and an allergic reaction in some people. Female horse flies cause bites, and their bites are usually more painful than males.

Horse fly bites can be painful, but they are not usually harmful, unless they become infected. Can Horse Flies Bite Through Clothing?

Female horse flies are strong and can bite through lightweight clothing. Therefore, it is important to wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers, and use bug repellant such as Farnam Endure Sweat-Resistant Fly Spray or Farnam Broncoe Equine Fly Spray with Citronella Scent.

How Do You Treat a Horse Fly Bite? If you are bitten by a horse fly, the first step is to clean the area with soap and water.

Apply an ice pack to the area for 10-15 minutes to reduce swelling and discomfort. If there is an open wound, apply an antiseptic and cover with a bandage.

If the bite becomes infected, see a doctor for antibiotics.

Getting Rid of Horse Flies

Bug Zappers:

One of the most effective ways to get rid of horse flies is by using bug zappers. Bug zappers attract horse flies with their light and kill them through electrocution.

They can be installed around your yard and are an excellent way to control horse flies. Dish Soap and Vinegar:

Horse flies are attracted to vinegar’s smell, and dish soap will help to trap them.

Mix equal parts of vinegar and dish soap in a bowl, and leave the bowl outside near your house or barn. The horse flies will be attracted to the smell of vinegar and become stuck in the soapy solution.

Disposable Fly Traps:

Disposable fly traps are specifically designed to attract and trap horse flies. These traps have an attractant that can lure thousands of flies to a specific area.

They can be hung around your yard, or near your barn or stable. Coke Bottle Trap with Rotten Meat:

A homemade trap can be made with a coke bottle and rotten meat.

Cut the top of the coke bottle off and fill it with rotten meat. Place the top of the bottle upside down into the bottle, so the flies are attracted to the meat smell and fly into the trap.

How do you keep horse flies away naturally? To keep horse flies away naturally, use repellent sprays such as water-based spray, lavender spray, or natural oils such as lemon eucalyptus, citronella, and peppermint.

Horse flies hate the smell of lavender, peppermint, and citronella, and these oils are natural insect repellents. What Eats Horse Flies?

Horse flies have a few natural predators, including birds such as swallows, ducks, and hawks. Spiders and dragonflies are also natural predators of horse flies.


Horse flies are not only a nuisance but can also be a health hazard for animals and humans due to their blood-sucking abilities. However, with various solutions, repellents, and traps, it is possible to control these pests and keep them away.

By following our tips on natural and chemical control methods, you can have a fly-free yard and keep your animals healthy and happy.

Horse Fly Behavior

Horse flies are active during the summer months and are usually found near water sources. These pests thrive in warm and wet conditions, which provide them with an ideal breeding ground.

Here are some commonly asked questions about horse fly behavior:

Why Do Horse Flies Like Pools? Horse flies are attracted to pools because of the warm and wet conditions.

While they do not breed in pools, they will use them as a source of water to hydrate. It is important to cover your pool when not in use to prevent horse flies from using it as a water source.

Where Do Horse Flies Go at Night? Horse flies need to rest during the night, and they usually seek shelter in trees, grass, and flat surfaces.

They are most active during the day, especially around feeding time. During the night, they are less active and can be found in groups, resting spots.

What Time Are Horse Flies Most Active? Horse flies are most active during the warmer parts of the day, especially three hours after sunrise and before sunset.

During this time, they will seek out sources of blood, and they become aggressive around animals. It is essential to avoid equine activities during this time to prevent horse fly attacks.

What Month Do Horse Flies Go Away? Horse flies are most active during the summer months and usually go away around the beginning of August.

This is because their life cycle is complete, and they have died off. Despite this, it is still important to take preventative measures, as horse flies can cause significant harm to animals and humans.

Additional Information

Horse Fly Life Cycle Diagram

The horse fly life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female horse flies lay their eggs near water sources, and the larvae hatch and feed on organic matter.

After several molts, the larvae move to the pupal stage and emerge as adult horse flies. Here is a diagram of the horse fly life cycle:

Equine Infectious Anemia

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a bloodborne viral infection that can be fatal to horses and cattle. Horse flies are the primary vector for this disease, and it is transmitted through their bites.

Symptoms include fever, weakness, weight loss, and anemia. It is important to regularly test for EIA and vaccinate animals to prevent an outbreak.

Additionally, taking preventative steps such as using insecticides, fly masks, and covering up horses during peak horse fly season can be beneficial in preventing the spread of EIA.


Horse flies can be a significant problem during the summer months, requiring a deeper understanding of their behavior. By understanding their attraction to water sources and their daily and seasonal patterns, it is possible to take preventive measures and protect horses and other animals from the harm caused by these pests.

It is also important to regularly test horses for EIA and vaccinate them to prevent outbreaks. With the right measures in place, horse flies can be controlled, and their harmful effects can be minimized.

In conclusion, the understanding of horse fly behavior is essential to mitigate the harm caused by these pests. We have learned that horse flies are external parasites that can target humans and animals for blood meals, causing anemia, weight loss, and sickness.

They are most active during the warmer parts of the day, especially three hours after sunrise and before sunset. To keep horse flies away, we discussed natural repellants such as lavender and peppermint and the effectiveness of chemical solutions such as Farnam Endure Sweat-Resistant Fly Spray.

It is also important to be aware of the potential spread of

Equine Infectious Anemia, a fatal bloodborne viral infection that can cause significant harm to horses and cattle. By utilizing effective control measures and being vigilant about preventive measures, it is possible to keep horse flies away and protect yourself, your animals, and your loved ones.

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