Mosquito control for horses
Many moons ago, I associated mosquitos with summer. Long days, warm nights, and bug bites. As an almost-grown-up, I still associate mosquitos with summer, but also with diseases, allergies, and gross standing water. Ugh.
At the barn, it’s important to remember that mosquitos transmit diseases to humans and horses.
- Most of the mosquito-borne diseases that affect horses attack the central nervous system and can be deadly.
- Luckily, there are a few things we can do to prevent these diseases (like West Nile and Equine Encephalomyelitis). Vaccinate regularly for your particular region and take matters into your own hands by discouraging mosquitos in your area. For more awesome info on mosquito diseases, read this jewel of an article.
We know that mosquitos like to grow up in standing water.
- The larvae can take four to 14 days to mature in water, which means if you have continual standing water (like a water trough), you should be cleaning it every four days. You can always check with your local agricultural extension service to find out what mosquitoes live in your area and what their life cycle is like.
Here’s a list of some areas of standing water that you will need to empty at the farm:
- Tree holes/tree stumps
- Bird baths
- Troughs and the “spill zone” around them
- Septic system field
- Wash rack area
- Leaky faucets
- You will need to get creative to manage some of these areas. You may need to re-organize some covered shelter or inside storage, clean troughs and birdbaths more frequently, and create ditches for drainage or unclog some existing drains.
Clean the water troughs often!
How to get the mosquitos eaten
- Install bat boxes around the farm. Bats love bugs! These super sleek boxes give your neighborhood bats a place to hang out (get it?) and take care of the bugs on your farm. And, they are amazing to watch at dusk.
- For larger bodies of water, like ponds and holding tanks, you may be able to add gambusia fish to eat the larvae. Check with your local ag service to be sure they are allowed, in some areas they are non-native and therefore not allowed. For more on adding fish to your horse’s trough, read this article.
- You can also add pellets or tablets of Bti or Bs bacteria to your surroundings. This is also a case in which working closely with your neighbors will help, too.
For your horses, you can do a few things to help them become less “tasty” to mosquitos.
- Try and avoid dawn and dusk turnouts if you can, this is when mosquitos like to feed.
- Consider using fly sheets and masks, and maybe even screen in your stalls. It seems extreme, but this will also keep other bugs at bay.
- Fans will help, too, as will a mosquito control spray for horses at your local tack shop.
Bat boxes! Hello, Dracula!
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This style is great for riding!