Summer means annoying flies! Learn more about how to get rid of biting summer flies.

This post will take a closer look at one of the most common biting flies, the horse fly. Horseflies are known to annoy livestock, dogs, horses and even humans! Keep reading to learn more about the horse fly.
Horsefly Sitting on Moss
The Obnoxious Biting Horse Fly

The horsefly is a large, bloodsucking fly with a stouter body and exceptionally large head. Since males have weaker mouthparts, they do not bite. They act as pollen and nectar collectors.

In contrast, the females can easily bite with a mouth that can pierce and cut the skin with scissor-like jaws and then lap up the blood flow to help them reproduce.

The horsefly is also referred to as the:  Horse Fly with green eyes on an orange background

  • Gadfly
  • Cleg (or Clegg
  • Breeze Flies
  • Bull Dog Flies (in Canada)
  • March Flies (in Australia)
  • Green-headed monster because of their prominent compound, iridescent eyes

Horse flies:

  • Are inactive at night.
  • Are most active in full daylight with no wind.
  • Are attracted to:
    • Movement;
    • Moisture; and
    • Carbon dioxide from their prey.
  • Will chase and attack dark moving objects.
  • Live in areas that are humid, warm and near bodies of water (for breeding) where livestock and other mammals graze.
  • Are mentioned in literature as far back as Ancient Greece in driving men mad with their single-minded persistence and tenacity!



The Life-Threatening Bite of the Horse Fly

Horse's head covered with flies in the pasture

Since the female horsefly feeds on the host’s blood, they can easily transfer blood-borne diseases and parasites from one animal to another one. This includes the Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) or Swamp Fever. This horse disease is caused by the EIA virus transmitted by biting and bloodsucking flies. Once EIA-positive, equines are infected for life.

While horse fly bites are painful for humans, they typically heal on their own with few side effects; serious and unusual reactions are not common.

Make Your Own DIY Fly Trap to Get Rid of Biting Summer Flies!

All you need is 4 simple items!

Protect Your Horse from Biting Summer Flies

Horse wearing a face mask in the pastureSo how do you get rid of these pesky, annoying – and even dangerous – horse flies to protect yourself, your horse, dog and livestock from their insidious bites?

Products like fly masks, ear nets, fly boots, fly mesh sheets and repellent tags, can help protect your horse from biting horse flies. A powerful fan in barns can also help discourage horse flies as they do not like the wind. Flytraps are also a common way to address the problem of horse flies.

Disposable fly traps work the best at trapping horse flies with the added attractant which gets activated by sunlight and water. The attractant lures them into the trap where they eventually drown. A single trap can effectively catch up to 20,000 flies over several weeks before they need to be replaced.

Another simple – yet effective – DIY trap for horse flies uses an empty coke bottle plus rotten meat!

  1. Take a coke bottle and cut off the top about 1/3 of the way down from the top with a knife.
  2. Drill a 1 cm hole in the bottle cap.
  3. Put some rotten meat with some water in the bottom part of the bottle and insert the cut upper part upside down into the bottom part of the bottle.
  4. Seal the edges with tape to seal and hang near infested areas.
  5. The smell of the rotten meat will attract the horse flies to enter through the hole in the bottle cap but they will not be able to escape.
DIY Tiles on Marble Table

Looking for other DIY trap ideas for getting rid of horse flies?

Click here to go to the Flies Only website!

Follow our blog …

for the second part of this important topic with a look at other biting summer flies and the natural repellents you can use.

The EquiGroomer Horse Kit

Regularly grooming your horse helps maintain their coat and gives you the opportunity to look for – and treat – fly bites.

 Our EquiGroomer tools make grooming your horse easier, stress-free AND pain-free! It’s the perfect gift for the horse lover and owner!

Order individual EquiGroomer tools or professional kits for your grooming shop, tack shop or barn, by calling 860-573-0604, sending us an email or visiting our website today!

Additional Reading:

Pest World: Horse Flies

Flies Only: How to Get Rid of Horse Flies – Facts & Control Techniques

The Horse: Flies and Bugs: Protect Your Horse

Horse Racing Sense: Horseflies: Facts You Need to Know? The Keys to Fly Control

The Royal Society: An Unexpected Advantage of Whiteness in Horses: The Most Horsefly-Proof Horse has a Depolarizing White Coat


Image Credits (In order shown):

Rihaij from Pixabay

Bruce Marlin – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5

Erik Karits from Pixabay 

Mabel Amber from Pixabay 

Manfred Richter from Pixabay 

Wiredsmartio from Pixabay 

Product Image Courtesy of EquiGroomer

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