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How To Get Rid Of Bot Flies On Horses

How To Get Rid Of Bot Flies On Horses

Bot flies are a common nuisance for horses, causing discomfort and potential health issues. These pesky insects lay their eggs on the horse’s coat, which then hatch into larvae that burrow into the horse’s skin. If left untreated, bot flies can lead to skin infections and other complications. In this article, we will explore effective methods to get rid of bot flies on horses, ensuring the well-being and comfort of these magnificent animals.

Understanding Bot Flies

Before diving into the methods of eradication, it is essential to understand the life cycle and behavior of bot flies. Bot flies, scientifically known as Gasterophilus spp., are large, hairy flies that resemble bees. They are most active during the summer and fall months and are attracted to horses due to their body heat and sweat.

Female bot flies lay their eggs on the horse’s coat, typically around the legs, chest, and neck. These eggs are yellow or white and have a sticky texture, allowing them to adhere to the horse’s hair. Once the horse licks or bites at the eggs, they hatch into larvae, which then migrate to the mouth or stomach.

Inside the horse’s digestive system, the larvae attach themselves to the stomach lining and feed on the horse’s blood and nutrients. After several weeks or months, the larvae pass through the horse’s feces and pupate in the soil, completing their life cycle.

Methods to Get Rid of Bot Flies

Now that we understand the life cycle of bot flies, let’s explore effective methods to eliminate them from horses:

1. Regular Grooming

Grooming plays a crucial role in preventing and managing bot fly infestations. Regularly brushing your horse’s coat helps remove bot fly eggs before they have a chance to hatch. Use a stiff brush or a bot knife specifically designed to scrape off the eggs from the horse’s hair. Pay close attention to the legs, chest, and neck, as these are the areas where bot flies commonly lay their eggs.

2. Fly Sprays and Repellents

Using fly sprays and repellents can be an effective way to deter bot flies from landing on your horse. Look for products specifically formulated to repel bot flies and follow the instructions for application. Apply the spray or repellent to the horse’s coat, paying extra attention to the areas where bot flies are likely to lay their eggs.

3. Fly Sheets and Masks

Another preventive measure is to dress your horse in fly sheets and masks. These protective coverings create a physical barrier between the horse’s coat and the bot flies, preventing them from laying eggs. Fly sheets and masks are particularly useful during peak bot fly seasons when the infestation risk is higher.

4. Biological Control

Introducing natural predators of bot flies can help control their population. Certain wasps, known as parasitic wasps, lay their eggs on bot fly eggs, effectively destroying them. These wasps are harmless to horses and can be beneficial in reducing bot fly infestations. Consult with a local entomologist or agricultural extension office to determine if introducing parasitic wasps is a viable option for your area.

5. Larvicidal Treatments

Larvicidal treatments are designed to kill bot fly larvae before they can cause harm to the horse. These treatments are available in various forms, including oral pastes and feed additives. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable larvicidal treatment for your horse, taking into consideration factors such as age, health, and any existing medical conditions.

6. Environmental Management

Proper environmental management can significantly reduce the presence of bot flies. Regularly clean and remove manure from the horse’s living area, as this is where bot fly larvae pupate. Harrowing or tilling the soil can also disrupt the pupae, preventing them from completing their life cycle. Additionally, consider using fly traps or sticky tapes to capture adult bot flies and reduce their population.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How often should I groom my horse to prevent bot fly infestations?

Regular grooming is essential to prevent bot fly infestations. Aim to groom your horse at least once a day, paying close attention to the areas where bot flies commonly lay their eggs.

2. Can bot flies cause health issues in horses?

Yes, bot flies can cause health issues in horses if left untreated. The larvae can lead to skin infections, digestive problems, and even colic. It is crucial to take preventive measures and promptly treat any infestations.

3. Are there any natural remedies to repel bot flies?

While there are some natural remedies that may help repel bot flies, such as essential oils or herbal sprays, their effectiveness may vary. It is recommended to use commercially available fly sprays and repellents specifically formulated for horses.

4. Can bot flies infest other animals?

Bot flies primarily infest horses, but they can also affect other equines, such as donkeys and mules. However, they do not infest other common domestic animals, such as dogs or cats.

5. Can bot flies be harmful to humans?

No, bot flies do not pose a direct threat to humans. They are specific to equines and do not infest or harm humans.

6. Can bot flies be completely eradicated?

While it is challenging to completely eradicate bot flies, implementing preventive measures and regular treatments can significantly reduce their population and minimize the risk of infestations.


Bot flies can be a nuisance for horses, but with proper preventive measures and treatments, their impact can be minimized. Regular grooming, the use of fly sprays and protective coverings, biological control methods, larvicidal treatments, and environmental management all play a crucial role in getting rid of bot flies. By understanding the life cycle and behavior of bot flies, horse owners can effectively protect their animals from these pesky insects and ensure their well-being and comfort.