Last Updated on March 18, 2022 by Allison Price
Although mosquitoes can be a problem for horses, they can also spread disease-causing pathogens like West Nile virus, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus. Our goal as horse owners is to reduce our horses’ exposure and risk of being bit by mosquitoes. Although it can feel like losing the battle, tackling these insects from multiple angles can make a huge difference to your horse’s health.
Reducing the number of mosquitoes
The famous saying “an ounce prevention is worth a thousand cures” is true. Therefore, the barn is the best place to eliminate mosquito exposure.
Eliminate Potential Mosquito Breeding Areas
Eliminating larval development areas on your property is a good way to manage mosquitoes. For their larval development, mosquitoes need stagnant water. This is why it’s a good idea to address areas that have stagnant or slow moving water. A fountain or filter can be added to a pond to keep it moving. Koi fish can also be introduced to the water to kill mosquito larvae. You can get fish from your local mosquito control program for free or very low cost. Check with your cooperative extension. To reduce mosquito larvae, you can dispose of water buckets and tubs every three days. Also, get rid of any tires or other debris that may be holding water. Position your drainage system so water doesn’t collect anywhere.
Plant Repellent Shrubbery
Although plants can’t kill mosquitoes and mosquito larvae, they might repel them by emitting odorous oils. Some plants, such as marigolds and basil, have odors that repel mosquitoes. To keep mosquito traffic down, plant them in window boxes near your barn or doorways.
Utilize Screens and Fans
Fans and screens can be used to control mosquitoes in barns by blowing them away or blocking their entry. Although screens are not practical for all barn setups, fans can be strategically placed on stalls or in aisles to aid airflow and blow away mosquitoes.
Chemical and Biological Controls
Larvicides are another way to reduce your mosquito population. You can treat areas of standing water with products that contain a bacterium, Bacillus Thauriiensis israelensis (Bti), or S-methoprene (an invert growth regulator), such as PreStrike(r). Larvicicide Tablets. These insecticides kill and attack mosquito larvae. S-methoprene and Bti won’t cause any harm to humans, animals, or plants if used as directed. These products are available in a variety of forms at your local garden and home store.
If West Nile virus or EEE cases start to appear, many towns will spray mosquito insecticides in the summer. Horses are considered sentinel animals and are often the first to know if West Nile or EEE are present. Therefore, towns won’t usually take any action until the horse has been infected.
Reduce Horse Exposure
It’s important that your horse has minimal contact with mosquitoes, in addition to the environmental aspects of mosquito control. It can help to keep your horse indoors during the most active hours of mosquito activity, such as dawn and dusk.
You can also use insect repellents to protect your horse from mosquito bites. According to a University of Tennessee study, pyrethrins (and pyrethroids) are the best repellent chemicals. Permethrin is one example. Pyrethroids can be synthesized to mimic the insecticidal properties naturally found in plant chemicals. They can also be combined with a synergist such as piperonylbutoxide (PBO). PBO stops flies from detoxifying pyrethrins or pyrethroids, which prevents knocked down mosquitoes later recovering.
Pick a repellent spray that suits your horse’s daily life. You may not want to wash your horse every day if you do daily work outs. You may choose to use a product with a sunscreen or coat conditioner to protect your horse’s skin.
Fly sheets, fly masks and fly wraps can also be effective barriers to repel mosquitoes and flies from horses. There are many types of masks available, including sun protection, nose protection and ear protection. Make sure you choose the right mask for your horse. Some of these products may contain chemical repellents that deter pests.
Natural Feed Additives
Horse owners also claim to have had success repelling insects using natural ingredients in their horse’s diet. These include garlic and apple cider vinegar. These products aren’t subject to any regulations so buyers should be cautious.
Although it is almost impossible to keep your horse mosquito-free in the summer, there are ways to reduce their numbers.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!