Insect & Pest Control

This list is a compilation of home remedies, advice and web sites to help with a variety of approaches to insect control. If you have something to contribute, please send it to me at - if you have pictures I'll use them too!

              Thanks, Linda

Dawn Dish Washing Detergent & Baby Oil Fly Spray

Looking for an echo friendly fly spray that actually works? In a one gallon container mix:

1 Quart white vinegar
4 Ounces baby oil
2 Caps full of Dawn dish washing detergent (or a healthy squirt. If it's too sudsy, cut back on the next batch. It doesn't take much so start low and add.)

Skin So Soft & Listerine Fly Spray

In a spray bottle mix:

8 ozs. white vinegar
8 ozs. Listerine
2 ozs. Avon Skin So Soft  (dial 1-800-for-avon or go to
1 ozs eucalyptus oil

Generously spray solution on your horses entire body each day
Added Bonus: Listerine helps your horse from getting fungal infections.

Skin So Soft, Eucalyptus & Walmart Mouthwash Fly Spray

From WholeHorseHealth Yahoo group member,Marilyn from Placerville, CA

6 ounces of Skin so Soft;
2 ounces of Eucalyptus Oil (I get mine from Nutrition  and
fill the rest of the 32 ounce spray container with Walmart Mint Mouthwash

You can add apple cider vinegar, (don't use the flavored stuff), but I don't.  This concoction makes 32 ounces and costs about  1/3 of the commercial fly sprays.  Works well for my boys.  Doesn't last as long as the commercial stuff, but doesn't have the chemicals either.

Skin So Soft, Eucalyptus & White Vinegar Fly Spray

4 16-ounce bottles Avon "Skin So Soft" bath oil
1cup of Listerine
40 cc (about 5 tablespoons) pure eucalyptus oil
enough white vinegar to make up one gallon

Works for Mosquitos too

Carmon Deyo's Fly Spray

We started making a homemade spray primarily to treat fly allergies and discovered it works pretty well for horse and deer flies. Plus, it's pennies to make and completely non-toxic. You have to spray several times during the day to keep the horse flies off but it does no harm and really soothes their skin from the bites. My rescue TB gets huge welts from the darned things.

1 part mineral oil
1 part old formula Listerine (generic version works great)
4 parts apple cider vinegar
6 parts water
10 drops tea tree oil

You have to get a good quality plant sprayer because the mineral oil makes it thick and it will clog up a cheap sprayer. If you really soak the midline, back legs and any place where they are having skin greeblies or itchies, it will clear it right up.

Noxzema (Original or Generic)

My horses LOVE Noxzema!

It's great for those itchy bellies, and the files and no-seeums hate it! I use it instead of Swat to cover the skit around sheaths, at the top and sides of tails, on superficial wounds, on bellies and at the base of itchy manes.

The horses also love Noxzema's medicated tingly feeling, and point to where the want it with their nose! Or turn-tail and back up hopefully...

I look for the Original on sale, and if I get desperate I get the Generic brand.

Ummmm.... don't rise out cheap hair conditioner???

From WholeHorseHealth Yahoo group member, Debbie F.

Several years ago I had a stunning white gelding that would get manure stains and I would wash him with horse shampoo and then smear human hair conditioner on his coat and leave him in the wash rack for awhile for it to soak in before rinsing him off.

I noticed that without the conditioner the flies would be all over him when left in the wash rack. I bought the cheapest conditioner, sometimes $0.99 for a big bottle, and started letting it dry on his coat and leaving it without rinsing. The flies hated the stuff and it lasted for days and his skin and coat were great. Might work on your horses. Article on Catnip Oil

Catnip, makes a good fly repellent and it doesn't harm the horses or cows. However as soon as the Catnip odor wears off the flies will
come back. The article is here

"Zhu's recent study indicates that catnip oil offers livestock handlers a safe, direct way to combat these pests. Not only does the oil repel stable flies, it also poses no risk to horses or other livestock and has the additional benefit of being a "green technology." Since the repellent would be derived from the catnip plant, it could be used by organic farmers who don't want to contaminate their products with unnatural chemicals. In addition, the oil has been shown to destroy stable fly larvae, effectively addressing this problem at its source." excerpt from article

Great glop-on fly protection...

From a clever WholeHorseHealth Yahoo group member, Brenda from Maine

I started using clay poultice, smear it on all the sensitive spots, especially on lower legs where the small biting flies take advantage of thin skin. The clay heal the bites already there, & prevents them from biting for days, until it begins to flake off. Specifically I use Ice Tight clay, it's already mixed, cheap, and commonly found in feed stores. Great for hoof rehabbing too! Think elephants rolling in mud...

Fly Salves

Vicks vapor rub, Noxema, Zinc Oxide Ointment applied to pasterns, navel, belly lines and sores works well for keeping gnats and flies away.

Scarlet Oil

Scarlet Oil is a good fly repellent but some horses are sensitive to it. It is particularly good for Pigeon Fever abscesses and wounds. I use Scarlet Oil sprayed on their midlines and it keeps flies away for 3 to 5 days and medicates their wounds. Some horses are sensitive to it, so I test it on a small patch first. The scarlet oil is bright pink… that’s turns some folks off.  - Linda

Fly Traps

I saw this fly trap sitting in a friends stable yard and had to take pictures. Its a build-it-yourself model made of a strip of a heavy duty durable metal screen for the side and regular metal window screen for the lid and internal cone.

If you don't have time to build your own, you can buy them at Arbico Organics


This friend has one trap for each horse on the property and they do a great job of controlling flies.

This model is riveted together and has an aluminum band on the top and simple aluminum legs that are screwed to the base.

There is a plastic bowl in the bottom that is used to hold attractant, and the flies go from the attractant up into the cone and the top of the trap. After the trap starts filling up, the dead flies attract more flies.

The trap is emptied by unscrewing the base and pulling the edge of the cone with a hook to dump the flies out the bottom, or the lid can be made so that it can be removed for emptying.

NZI Fly Trap

From WholeHorseHealth Yahoo group member  Terri from CT

"I've made two of these traps and cannot believe how effective they are!! "



This wonderful web site has all the directions on how to build, maintain and bait these fly traps... this isn't the first time I've had people rave about them!

Green Head Fly Traps

From WholeHorseHealth Yahoo group member Susan in NJ

Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service / Cook College
Elton J. Hansens, Research Professor of Entomology and Economic Zoology
Stuart R. Race, Extension Specialist in Entomology
Illustrations by Aline Hansens Videos of Greenhead Fly Traps:

Video 1
Video 2

For a number of years Rutgers research has been directed toward control of the salt marsh greenhead in southern New Jersey. Now we can recommend a trap which will greatly reduce greenhead annoyance in many areas. Further research is planned to develop even better controls which are effective and have no harmful side effects.

Umbrella Horse Fly Trap

This is a great site for fly control! Here's an example with details on their site:

Right, The umbrella-type horse fly trap in operation. Note how the center post holds the canopy off the ground, and how the guy lines are used like tent ropes to hold it up. The black-painted beach ball hangs just below the canopy itself.






Left, The "trap" portion of the umbrella-type horse fly trap. Fasten a jar lid upside down on a wooden base plate. Cut a hole through the base plate and lid, and glue a plastic cone inside the lid. Replace the jar.

Deer Fly Traps - great directions on building deer fly traps... can't extract a picture of it, but it's worth checking out!

Fly Predators

Various Providers used by Whole Horse Health List Members Green lacewings keep a handle on the gnats & no-seeums

Horse Fly Information

There are specialist predators such as the Horse guard wasp, a type of Sand wasp that preferentially attacks horse flies.

Muscovy Ducks

Muscovy Ducks are great for all sorts of flies "My fly population was decimated, they spread the manure in the pastures, (by the time they have gone through it looking for bits of hay, grain, or maggots, it is spread finer than with the best harrow), they are a hoot to watch diving and bathing in their wading pool, and they even gave us lots of delicious eggs to eat for breakfast.  I've been told that they are also a very tasty eating bird (not greasy like other breeds of duck) but mine are my pets, so aren't subject to being served up on the dinner table." "Since you specifically mentioned horse flies, I have watched my Muscovys leap into the air to snap horseflies right out of mid flight.  I've also seen day old ducklings snap stable flies out of the air, so obviously this behavior is bred right into them.

Mosquito Dunks

Quick Kill

These are the ones I use, but I get them locally in 6-packs.

Woks on: Flies, Nuisance Flies, and Mosquitoes
Contents: Bacillus Thuringiensis Subspecies Israelensis solids, Spores and Insecticidal Toxins
Mosquito Dunks may be used in all types of mosquito breeding areas. Mosquito Dunks float on water and will keep on working for 30 days or longer under typical environmental conditions. While floating, they slowly release a long-term, biological mosquito larvicide at the waters surface. This larvicide gradually settles in the water where it is eaten by mosquito larvae growing there. Mosquito Dunks may be used in all standing water sites where mosquito larvae grow. Alternate wetting and drying will not reduce their effectiveness.

Olive or Vegetable Oil

A tbs of olive or vegetable oil in tanks once a week will help control mosquito populations by smothering larvae and trapping adults trying to land on the water.

Aquabac Mosquito Larvae Control - Bti

Aquabac Mosquito Larvae Control - Bti is a bacteria that controls mosquito and black flies in their larval filter feeding stage of development. The mosquito larvae die after consuming the bacteria that causes a disease specific to them but are harmless to all other forms of wildlife.

Broadcast Aquabac granular at 2.5-10 lbs/acre, depending upon organic properties of the water: black, murky water needs more than clear water. Bti larvicide kills mosquitoes for 30 days or longer when placed in standing water outdoors.

Bti Aquabac granules can be broadcast easily to water gardens, flower pots, rain barrels, bird baths, tree holes, unused swimming pools, old automobile tires and wait for nature to take its course.

There is a bacteria in the BT class that is very effective but you have to put a teaspoon in every average size tank every 10-14 days. 

Barley Straw

Barley Straw works like Mosquito Dunks and keeps ponds and talks algae free

For the horse tank, I fill a small netted vegtable bag with barley straw. You can sink it with a brick or let it float... my horses don't bother it after its soaked an hour.

Ticks and Tick Removal


Ticked Off Tick Spoon

My favorite "tick removal tool" is a Ticked Off Tick Spoon, available online and in many stores for about $10. I've made my own in an emergency using a plastic spoon and a hot knife (not too hot!)

Tick Wraps?

One Whole Horse Health poster mentioned that when she rides with fleecy polo wraps on her horses pasterns, the ticks get stopped at the fleece! Removing them after a trail ride, placing them in a large Zip Lock bag in the sun usually kills all the ticks by the next ride!

Tick Key
Google "Tick Key" and they are everywhere... I got one of these in green at REI but should buy a dozen online because they are cheap and easy to use!


Use Soap For Tick Removal? NOPE Better Luck Next Time!!
I got this from FB and it looks great but Snopes says it doesn't work!!

"I had a pediatrician tell me what she believes is the best way to remove a tick. This is great because it works in  those places where it's sometimes difficult to get to with tweezers: between toes, in the middle of a head full of  dark hair, etc." 

"Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20); the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away. If you just pull a tick off, their heads sometimes break off and are left under the skin so this is much safer.