How can I make my own horse fly spray?
When it comes to picking a fly product for your horse, you have dozens of options at the store. You also have the option of concocting your own fly spray. But where do you start? The internet is chock full of recipes, how do you know what’s best? I’m here to tell you that I don’t have an answer for this one. Not even close. I’ve often by fascinated by the simple ingredients and the “friendly” nature of making your own fly spray, but for ME, the reality is that I like the convenience of picking up a bottle of fly spray at my feed store. There. I said it.
However, in the name of learning, having an open mind, and even being a bit more “green”, I have compiled some information about ingredients to home made fly sprays. This will hopefully be informative and highly entertaining.
-Avon’s Skin So Soft. This is the holy grail of fly spray ingredients for the do it yourselfer. This is a product designed as a mineral oil based moisturizer for humans, and it does contain chemical ingredients. The entire line of products now includes some bug repelling specific lotions, as well.
-Citronella oil. There are two kinds of citronella oil - the highly concentrated pure essential oil and the highly dangerous flammable type used to make tiki torches burn. Go for the first type! Use these in a heavily diluted mixture, a little bit goes a very long way. For more information on essential oils and horses, you can ready these amazing guest blogs, part one and part two.
Citronella oil is effective at repelling mosquitos and also stable flies, as well as having a nice smell.
-Eucalyptus oil is another choice, although it hard to tell from the lack of research what this oil repels. Lemon eucalyptus oil is an ingredient that is actually EPA registered for mosquito repelling.
As with Citronella oil, eucalyptus oil is highly concentrated.
-Dish soap. Many of the recipes for home made fly sprays contain dish soap. I have seen recipes with just about every brand of dish soap. This is used as an emulsifier, so that the oils and water in your concoction can mix together, and stay mixed together.
-Vinegar. About half of the homemade recipes out there specify white vinegar, the others say apple cider vinegar. Perhaps it depends on the smell that you prefer? I was also unable to find any research on what types of bugs that vinegar repels, although there are tons of stories about vinegar as a bug repellent. I also found lots of references to apple cider vinegar used as a topical treatment for insect bites.
Vinegar used topically can also create a great sheen on your horse.
There is a new game in town for fly sprays - EcoVet uses fatty acids instead of chemicals to camoflauge your horse from flies. It works like a charm, and it's not something you could duplicate. The more options to battle flies, the better.
To make a dent in fly populations, and therefore help your horse be more comfortable, it’s important to attack all stages of the fly’s life cycle. When choosing a fly spray for your horse, you have zillions of choices. If you do decide to go the homemade route, here are a few thoughts when it comes to being the chef:
-Try a very diluted product first, lots of water, tiny amounts of oils. Oils (and any ingredient) can cause reactions.
-Test on a small area. Don’t take your first batch and soak your horse!
-Use in combination with fly sheets, fly masks, and fly boots.
-Attack all areas of the farm, working to eradicate all stages of the fly life cycle!
If you have a tried and true recipe, please share on the website comments below so it can be easily referenced!