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How to Get Rid of Horse Flies

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies

Are you waging a relentless battle against horse flies? These pesky insects don’t just spoil your summer afternoons. They also bring a host of discomforts to your four-legged friends. 

If the buzz and bite of these unwelcome guests are driving you up the wall, you’re not alone. Whether you’re tending to your garden, enjoying a picnic, or caring for your horses, it’s high time we show these aerial annoyances the exit door. 

Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into some foolproof strategies to reclaim your space and sanity from the tyranny of horse flies.

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies: Key Takeaway

The key to ridding your space of horse flies lies in proactive measures. Use traps, repellents, and natural methods to combat these pests. Maintaining a clean, water-free environment reduces breeding sites, enhancing effectiveness. Embrace various strategies to find the best fit and enjoy a horse fly-free outdoor experience.

How Do Horse Flies Look Like?

Ever wondered what those pesky horse flies look like? 

They’re bigger than your average housefly and quite a bit more menacing. With their hefty, dark bodies and large, bright eyes that almost seem to glow, they’re hard to miss. 

These flies are not just big, they’re fast fliers too, making them a real challenge to swat away. And watch out—those females pack a bite that’s far from friendly, all thanks to their scissor-like mouthparts. 

So next time one zooms by, you’ll know exactly who you’re dealing with.

Lifecycle of a Horse Fly

Explore the horse fly’s life cycle: from egg to adult, a fascinating journey of transformation.

Egg stage

It all starts when the female horsefly lays her eggs, often right on the edge of water or on plants near water. These eggs are tiny, dark, and stick together in masses.

Larval stage

Once the eggs hatch, out come the larvae. These aren’t your typical wriggly worms; they’re more robust and can live in wet environments, even muddy or marshy areas. 

Here, they feast on organic matter, growing bigger and sometimes even preying on other small invertebrates.

Pupal stage

These larvae enter the pupal stage after they’ve had their fill and grown enough. This is a transition phase during which they don’t eat but instead transform. 

They find a dry spot on the ground, bury themselves, and start the process of turning into adults. Depending on the environment, this can take a few weeks to several months.

Adult stage

Finally, the adult horsefly emerges from the pupa. 

Ready to fly, the males generally feed on nectar, while the females, needing blood to develop their eggs, start looking for hosts, including humans and animals.

Lifecycle of a Horse Fly

Horse Fly Behavior and Habits

Horse flies are quite the characters when it comes to their behavior and habits. 

First off, these insects are aggressive biters. It’s the female that does the biting, because she needs blood to help her eggs develop. 

She’s not picky about where it comes from—cattle, horses, humans, you name it. Meanwhile, the males stick to sipping nectar from flowers.

These flies are most active during the day, especially sunny days. They aren’t just buzzing around aimlessly. 

They’re quite good at spotting movement and will zero in on anything that moves. You might find horse flies particularly bothersome when hiking or working in your yard.

When it comes to their hangout spots, horse flies love being near water or in wet areas, where the females lay their eggs. The larvae then grow up in these moist environments, feeding on organic material until they emerge as adults.

So, next time you’re swatting away at a horse fly, remember—it’s all part of their natural hustle to survive and thrive.

How Do You Get Rid of Horse Flies?

To actively get rid of horse flies that have already become a nuisance, you can use a combination of direct removal methods and traps. 

Here’s how you can effectively tackle an existing horse fly problem

Burn candles and torches

Using candles and torches that emit smoke or have insect-repellent properties can help keep horse flies at bay. The smoke confuses horse flies, and certain scents like citronella can actively repel them. 

Set up these candles or torches around the perimeter of your outdoor areas, where you spend time to create a bug-repellent barrier.

Using insecticides

If the infestation is severe, insecticides can be an effective solution. Choose insecticides formulated to target flies and apply them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Be mindful of where you spray, especially around areas where children and pets play. For best results, target areas where horse flies are seen most frequently or where they might breed.

Use of chemical sprays

For immediate relief from horse flies, consider using chemical sprays designed to kill on contact. These sprays can be applied directly to horse flies or areas where they are frequently seen.

Follow the product instructions closely to ensure safe and effective use. Make sure to use these sprays outdoors and away from food, pets, and children.

Setting up horse fly traps

Horse fly traps are an effective way to catch and kill these pests. There are several types of traps, including sticky traps, bait traps, and UV light traps.

Sticky traps use a sticky surface to catch flies that land on them, while bait traps lure flies in with an attractant and trap them inside. UV light traps attract horse flies with light and then trap or electrocute them.

Position these traps around your property, particularly near breeding sites.

Water and dish soap trap

A simple homemade trap can be made using a large bowl filled with water and dish soap. The water attracts the flies, and the soap decreases the water’s surface tension, causing the flies to sink and drown when they attempt to land.

Place the bowl in a sunny spot to increase its effectiveness.

Electronic swatters

For areas where horse flies are a constant annoyance, electronic swatters can be a practical solution. These handheld devices kill flies on contact with an electric charge.

They are especially useful for immediate relief when spending time outdoors.

Professional pest control

If the horse fly problem is extensive or if DIY methods fail to control the population, it might be time to call in professional pest control services.

They can provide more powerful solutions and targeted treatments to reduce the horse fly population.

How to Get Rid of House Flies

How to Prevent Horseflies

Preventing horse flies from becoming a nuisance involves creating an environment that’s less attractive to them. Here’s how to effectively keep horse flies at bay using various preventive measures:

Maintain your yard

Keeping your yard well-maintained is key. Mow the lawn regularly, trim back bushes, and clear out any brush or tall weeds where horse flies might like to rest. 

This reduces the shady, cool areas they favor and limits their hiding spots. Remember, a tidy yard is less attractive to these flies because it provides fewer places to breed or shelter.

Remove garbage

Garbage can attract horse flies as it often contains food scraps or is located near areas where these flies breed. Ensure your garbage cans have tightly fitting lids and are emptied and cleaned regularly. 

Keep them as far away from your home and outdoor living spaces as possible. Minimizing odors and potential breeding sites decreases the chances of horse flies hanging around.

Clean up after pets

Pet waste is a big attractant for many pests, including horse flies. Cleaning up after your pets immediately ensures that horse flies won’t be drawn to your yard looking for easy breeding grounds or food sources. 

Regularly dispose of pet waste and ensure that areas where your pets spend a lot of time are kept clean.

Use horsefly repellents

Applying horse fly repellents is a straightforward way to keep these pests away. Look for repellents that are specifically formulated to deter horse flies. 

These can be applied directly to your skin or clothing when spending time outdoors. For animals, especially horses, there are repellents available that can be applied to their coats to protect them from bites.

Horsefly traps

Installing horse fly traps around your property can reduce their population. These traps work by mimicking the heat and movement of animals, attracting horse flies and then trapping them. 

Place the traps in sunny areas where horse flies are active. Put them away from the areas where people and animals frequent, as the traps attract more flies.

Essential oils

Many essential oils are natural deterrents for horse flies. Oils such as citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender have repelling properties. 

You can use these oils by applying them to your skin after diluting them with a carrier oil or by using diffusers in outdoor areas to create a protective barrier against horse flies.

Use horse blankets

For horse owners, using specially designed horse blankets can provide a physical barrier that protects your animals from horse fly bites. 

These blankets are made from a fine mesh that allows air to circulate while keeping flies out. They cover the major parts of the horse’s body where flies bite.

Using fine mesh screens

Installing fine mesh screens on windows, doors, and other openings can help prevent horse flies from entering your home or barn. 

These screens are particularly useful during the horse fly season and in areas where these flies are prevalent. Ensure the mesh is fine enough to keep out even the smaller insects.

Where Do Horse Flies Live?

Horse flies are not too picky about where they live, but they do have a preference for wet and humid environments. You’ll often find them near ponds, streams, and marshes where they can lay their eggs. 

They’re also common in wooded areas and fields, thriving in places with plenty of moisture and warmth. 

So, if you’re near water or a lush green area, there’s a good chance horse flies are lurking around, especially during the warmer months.

where Do Horse Flies Live?

Do Horse Flies Bite?

Yes, horse flies do bite. Only the females bite because they need blood to help their eggs develop. These bites can be painful because the female horse fly cuts into the skin with her sharp mouthparts. 

She then laps up the blood that comes out. So, if you feel a sharp pinch while outside, especially near water or wooded areas, it might just be a horse fly.

When is the Worst Time of the Year for Horse Flies?

The worst time of the year for horse flies is usually the hot summer months. These pests thrive in warm weather, so as the temperatures rise, does their activity. 

You’ll often find them buzzing around from late spring through to early fall. This is when they’re out looking for blood meals to help them reproduce. 

So, if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors during these months, be prepared to face these biting flies. 

Remember that horse flies are especially active on sunny days with little wind. This can make those perfect summer days a bit more challenging if you’re trying to avoid their bites.

What is the Best Fly Spray for Horses?

Fly Bye Plus is hands-down the best fly spray you can get for your horse. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s worth every penny. 

This spray uses advanced soybean technology to tackle flies at a molecular level. What’s cool? Flies sense it and fly away, or they die if they don’t. 

It’s a smart, effective way to keep flies, mosquitoes, and gnats off your horse. Plus, it’s non-toxic and 100% biodegradable. Safe for your horse, safe for you, and safe for the planet. 

Fly Bye Plus isn’t just a fly spray; it’s peace of mind in a bottle.

Check out our article, “Best Fly Sprays for Horses” to discover the most effective options for keeping your equine friends comfortable and fly-free.

Types of Fly Sprays

Several types of fly sprays are available that cater to different needs and preferences. Here’s a list of common types:

Chemical-based sprays. These sprays contain synthetic insecticides like permethrin, pyrethrin, or DEET, which are effective at quickly killing or repelling flies.

Natural or organic sprays. Made from natural ingredients such as essential oils, these sprays are the best to avoid synthetic chemicals. They are safer for use around children and pets but may need more frequent application.

Water-based sprays. These are less oily than alcohol-based sprays and are less likely to irritate the skin or damage surfaces where they are sprayed. They can be a good choice for sensitive skin.

Oil-based sprays. These have a longer-lasting effect as the oil helps to hold the active ingredients on the skin or surface longer. However, they can feel greasier and may stain fabrics.

Alcohol-based sprays. These types of sprays dry quickly and are effective at dispersing the active ingredients over a large area. They can be harsher on the skin and flammable.

Automatic dispensers. For continual fly control, these devices release a mist of fly spray at set intervals. They are ideal for stable setups, barns, or large indoor spaces.

Wipe-on products. While not sprays, these are worth mentioning as an alternative application method. They are great for precise application in sensitive areas, particularly on animals.


Whether you choose traps, repellents, or natural methods, staying proactive is key. Remember, keeping your surroundings clean and water-free cuts down their breeding spots. 

Try different strategies and find what works best for you. Here’s to enjoying a horse fly-free environment, making your outdoor moments more enjoyable. 

Stay vigilant and prepared.

Picture of Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq, a seasoned veterinarian with a DVM from ARID University and an MPhil in Animal Nutrition from UVAS, specializes in equine health. His deep passion for horse nutrition and well-being drives his work, offering invaluable advice for horse owners. Dr. Tariq's expertise ensures horses lead vibrant, healthy lives.
You can read my full bio here

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How to Get Rid of Horse Flies