If you’re a horse owner, thinking about becoming one, or just a horse lover in general, you know that with the joy of horses comes the responsibility of caring for them.
One of your biggest challenges as a horse owner is getting rid of bothersome, disease-carrying flying insects.
In this article, we'll cover:
- How fly spray works for your horses
- How to find the best sprays for your horses
- How to use fly sprays for horses
- Our #1 top fly spray for horses
- Other top fly sprays for all use cases
Horseflies as well as other biting, stinging insects like beetles, gnats, lice, mites, mosquitoes, ticks, and other types of flies carry diseases like swamp fever (equine infectious anemia) that can lay your horse low or even kill them if you don’t catch it in time.
So we’re going to walk you through some of the best ways to stop flies from hurting your equine friends.
Pyranha Wipe N’ Spray
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Farnam Endure Sweat Resistant Fly Spray for Horses
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Absorbine UltraShield Ex
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Farnam Tri-Tec 14 Fly Repellent Spray for Horses
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Ecovet Fly Repellent
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Absorbine UltraShield Green
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
(updated as of 11/20/2019)
Horse owners have been using this on their horses for years. Spray it on your horses and wipe them down. It gives a nice sheen to their coats, contains citronella and has a nice citronella scent to it, and is very effective against horseflies and other insects.
It is a pyrethrin-based insecticide that is an effective repellent fly repellent against any horse fly that tries to land on your horse(s).
Top 6 Best Fly Spray for Horses
Are you short on time or just want a quick answer?Check out our list below for a summary of our results. Keep on reading to learn more about fly sprays for horses.
What Are Fly Sprays for Horses?
Fly spray is the generic appellation for any fly protectant mixture of chemicals, oils, or acids that are intended to be sprayed on horses to either kill or repel flies.
It can also refer to any mixture intended to treat horses, whether it is sprayed or not. Any sort of liquid intended for fly control can be considered a horse fly spray.
The same “common usage” standard applies to the use of fly sprays or fly treatments for equines.
As long as the intended purpose of any product is to protect horses from gnats, horseflies, house flies, stable flies, deer flies, etc., then we’ll use that phrasing to refer to it.
How Do Fly Sprays for Horses Work?
There are several kinds of horse spray for each type of flies. Many affect more than one type. Some kill the flies, some repel them, and others interrupt their breeding cycle and prevent them from reproducing.
The best fly spray will combine one or more of those actions.
Kill The Flies
Insecticides are sprays that actually kill the flies. Some of them, depending on the active ingredients, may also repel flies, gnats, and other insects. However, their primary mode of action is to kill the bugs.
This means the flies will have to land on the horse before the insecticide begins to work.
Repel The Flies
Repellents are sprays that repel the flies. Instead of killing flies and other insects, repellents emit an odor that flies find repulsive or distasteful. When they encounter it, they turn around and fly away.
Repellents are less than 100% effective so there will always be a certain percentage of flies that will ignore them and attack your horses anyway.
Read more: These are the top 5 best fly repellents
Combination Kill and Repel
The best fly spray for horses will one that combines an insecticide with a repellent. It will repel many flies, gnats, and other insects, but those that ignore the repellent and land anyway will be killed by the insecticide in the spray.
How Do You Find The Best Fly Spray for Horses?
Our staff is composed of licensed pest control technicians with years of real-world experience killing bugs for customers of all kinds. We’ve used and tested insecticides and repellents, day in and day out.
We know which ones live up to the manufacturer’s claims and which ones don’t. If you want to know which is the best fly spray for your horses, you read articles like this one and learn from our experience.
We’ll give you the straight skinny on these methods of fly control and you can choose from the options we offer you. They’ll all have something to recommend them to one degree or another.
Are Fly Sprays for Horses Effective?
The short answer is a definite maybe. They may be effective if and only if you use them correctly according to the instructions on the label. We’ll explain.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strictly regulates all pesticides. This means pesticides are not only safe, but they’re also super safe. In order for them to be useful against pests, you have to follow the instructions on the label to the letter.
The label on pesticides is a regulated, legal document that details the lawful method of using the pesticide. The label is the law. If you don’t follow the label you’re violating federal law.
Why does this matter? Well, fly spray is a pesticide.So, if and only if you follow all the instructions on the label, you’ll be obeying the law and receiving the maximum benefit from the pesticide.
How To Use a Fly Spray for Horses
Follow the legal instructions on the label. Each product will be different. Don’t assume you know what will work with one just because you used another one. Read the label each and every time.
This video demonstrates the safest way to spray a horse with fly repellent.
A fly spray typically needs to be sprayed from a certain distance; too far and the mist won’t cover the horse, too close and the mist will only affect a small spot.
Some horses are sensitive to the sound or feel of a spray. Start slowly, at the legs, and then work your way up. Opt for a roll-on repellent for the head.
Because some fly sprays are insecticides and others are repellents, from years of field experience, we urge you to use two or more of them in combination. That will provide the best fly control.
Are Fly Sprays for Horses Safe Around My Pets And Children?
That depends entirely on the spray in question. Those based on essential oils or fatty acids (see below) will be almost 100% safe. Some people have natural allergies, which is why we say “almost”.
For the most part, though, those sprays won’t hurt the vast majority of people. You can use them around your children and pets with impunity.
Any fly spray that contains strange-looking, hard-to-pronounce words as the active ingredients are insecticides that may not be safe.
When in doubt, play it safe and don’t use them around children.
Pets are a different matter. Since these sprays are intended for horses, they will almost always be safe to use around your pets too.
If the spray gets in your child’s eyes or mouth, rinse immediately with water and follow the directions on the bottle listed for situations like that.
Fly Sprays for Horses Reviewed
As a quick recap, here are the six fly sprays we looked at.
- Pyranha Wipe N’ Spray
- Farnam Endure Sweat Resistant Fly Spray for Horses
- Absorbine UltraShield Ex
- Farnam Tri-Tec 14 Fly Repellent Spray for Horses
- Ecovet Fly Repellent
- Absorbine UltraShield Green
Our top pick is Pyranha Wipe N' Spray, but the other sprays on the list are effective as well, and shouldn't be overlooked.
Pyranha is an effective fly spray method for providing lasting protection from flies of all kinds. It can be wiped on your horses with a rag or sprayed on them from a spray bottle.
Because it’s a pyrethrum-based formula, you should wear disposable latex gloves when you’re wiping it on by hand. This formula also contains useful permethrins.
It kills flies for up to 24 hours after each application, so it requires a daily application for greatest effectiveness. It’s easy to use and the best time to apply it is early in the morning before the flies have started moving around.
Farnam Endure Sweat Resistant Fly Spray comes premixed in a 32-ounce pump spray bottle. The active ingredients are cypermethrin, 0.15%, pyrethrins, 0.20%, piperonyl butoxide, 1.60%, and butoxypolypropylene glycol, 5.00%. Like the Pyranha spray, this formula contains permethrins.
One of the nice things about this spray is that it lasts for up to 14 days before you have to reapply it. It accomplishes this through the use of a RepeLock® conditioner that binds itself to the shaft of the horse’s hair.
This also allows it to resist being washed away by the horse’s sweat. Ounce for ounce this product is a bit expensive compared to others, it’s but well worth it.
Absorbine UltraShield Ex has many of the same active ingredients as Farnam Endure. It works in wet conditions which makes it an excellent sweat-resistant fly spray.
UltraShield Ex contains a coat conditioner which adheres to the hair shaft to make your horse’s coat shine in addition to killing and repelling flies.This spray also has a sunscreen added to protect your horses. It claims to deliver protection that will last for up to 17 days. It comes premixed in a 32-ounce spray bottle that is easy to use.
However, you should wear disposable latex gloves while applying it.
Farnam Tri-Tec 14 is a 50-ounce jug of horse fly repellent spray for face flies, horseflies, stable flies, and more. The active ingredients in Tri-Tec are cypermethrin, pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, and butoxypolypropylene glycol.
It is a water-based formula that has a fast knockdown, but you’ll have to get a 32-ounce spray bottle in order to apply it. The formula is premixed so all you have to do is pour it in the spray bottle and you’re ready to go. That makes it easy to use on multiple horses.
It lasts for up to 14 days after application.
Ecovet Fly Repellent is made from natural fly repellents known as fatty acids. The USDA partnered with private industry and universities to develop a new line of insect repellents that don’t use essential oils. Ecovet is one of them.
It contains octanioc acid, nonanoic acid, and decanoic acid. They combine to form an effective barrier that repels flies of all kinds. It is safe for the horses and for the people using it. You won’t need any gloves when you’re applying it.
This is still a relatively new product and while the laboratory results are good, the real test is in the everyday world.
Absorbine UltraShield Green uses essential oils to repel flies. It can be safely used on horses, foals, ponies, and dogs. It is a natural fly repellent containing citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, cedarwood, lavender, and tea tree essential oils.
It comes premixed in a 32-ounce spray bottle and works for up to 8 hours, so it requires a daily application in order to protect your horses. It smells great and helps your horse have a shiny, good looking coat.
Because it contains only natural ingredients, it is safe for you as well as your horses. This makes this the best fly spray for your house as well.
Our Top Pick: Pyranha Wipe N’ Spray
There are a lot of fly sprays for horses on the market. Some repel, some kill flies, and some do both. The best choice is whatever best fits your needs.
However, our top pick is Pyranha Wipe N' Spray.
- Ready-to-use formula
- Sprays directly on to the horse
- Citronella scented
- Contains lanolin for coat conditioning
This product also has been a reliable horse fly spray for years.
Final Thoughts On Fly Sprays for Horses
There is no such thing as a fly spray, insecticide or repellent, that is 100% effective on everything. From our years of experience, we recommend using two or more sprays in combination to receive the full benefit of both an insecticide and repellent.
A pesticide, repellent, and IGR combination is the most effective pest control method you can use.
Other Fly Spray Guides
Curious about other fly products and guides? Check out our other detailed articles to help you deal with your pest problems.