Gnats and horses – what you can do!
- Gnat is a very broad term for a tiny little fly. They hang out in groups, and they love to swarm around faces and generally be annoying and irritating. They can also cause severe allergic reactions in horses, leading to sweet itch. For more on sweet itch, this article’s for you.
Because there are so many types of gnat flies, this is very general info, but fairly applicable across all types of gnats and midges and no-see-ums.
The typical gnat swarm.
Gnats are really fond of tails and mane crests. Also, faces.
- First, body heat and moisture.
- They also love smells – from sunscreen, to wound sprays, to face cream, to perfume.
- You might be interested to know that two of their favorite scents are honey and vinegar. So all of those vinegar fly remedies might actually be bringing the gnats over.
Some fly sprays may help where the gnats like to swarm.
Gnats also love to live around damp areas, so the scenic creek is a great gnat magnet.
- Same for standing water, be it puddles, in buckets, in low lying areas. Think mosquito control techniques here. Incidentally, gnats and mosquitos are “cousins” in the flying bug world.
- However, gnats rarely eat as adults, and as larvae they tend to like fungi, algae, and plants.
Repelling gnats can line up nicely with fly control measures that you already have in place at the barn.
- Keep things dry (when you can), use fans, remove manure several times a day and provide shade or a dark stall/run-in shed.
- Use a fly repellent that is fatty acid-based to confuse the gnats and camouflage your horse.
Fly masks make for a gnat-free face.
- Fly masks are also super, as they provide a physical barrier between gnat and horse. A fly sheet with a tail cover will help keep the upper tail protected.
- If you have a horse that suffers from sweet itch, look for a special sweet itch sheet that covers the belly, neck, and face. These usually have velcro around the tops of the legs to create a seal.
Luckily, the gnat season is short. And they are little. And chock full of protein when you accidentally inhale several of them.
For the war on gnats, I suggest these great weapons. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which is zippo extra cost to you and a little commission to me. For which I’m eternally grateful!
Eco Vet Fly Spray – Funny smell, serious fly spray
Shires, Performance Fly Sheet – this goes up and over the neck and poll for max coverage for the horse with sweet itch.
Amigo Mio Fly sheet – I love this one, the extra long tail prevents bugs up the butt, and the neck piece is great. It’s also super light, which means it tears easily.