Deer flies, greenheads and dive bombers

Doe s anything repel them? I am not talking all day. I just need something that works for 10 or 15 minutes while I lunge the horse. What about the mesh covers that the horse wears over its hind end like a quarter sheet? They are not getting on her head as much as they are attacking from behind.

I tried the U of Florida deer fly trap. I painted a flower pot blue, covered it in Tanglefoot, mounted it on a long stick and attached it onto the back of my tractor. The movement and color blue is supposed to attract deerflies and they stick to the Tanglefoot when they swarm in to feed. Well I guess Alabama deerflies are smarter than Florida deerflies because none of them appeared and I guess they can distinguish between a horse and a tractor. When I take the horse into the arena in a matter of minutes I have more than a dozen swarming her. I will try this method and attach it to a riding mower to see if the smaller vehicle fools them.

I just use a fly mask with ears, and soak the fabric ears and the fleece over the poll with flyspray. I use a fly whisk to brush any flies that land on her upper neck (but this obvs only works when riding).
To increase the coverage area on the horse’s upper neck area, you could add a DIY “cape” that covers the poll and the 8-12" behind the ears. I bet you could securely attach it to the throat latch and browband with ties. Use a material with some heft, like upholstery fabric, so they can’t bite through. And maybe add a “spine” of some sort down the middle so it’ll stay on the neck and not flap around in a breeze.

There are more on the back half of the horse and on the legs. I lunged with Shoo Fly wraps but there was a whole herd of them chasing the horse.

Hmm interesting. Around here, the deer flies all focus on the highest point of their target, and just hover around there hoping to land a bite. I’ll literally walk around with one hand up in the air, and they leave my face alone.


I put one of these and a neck cover over my horse (+ fly mask) when we go out on trail rides in the worst of summer. We look ridiculous but my horse is happier.

If they are only getting on the hindquarters the mesh fly quarter sheet is an excellent solution.


I don’t know how this would work for lunging, but back in the era before fly masks with ears, when I was trail riding a lot, I used to break off a short leafy piece from a tree (maybe 6-8" long?) and tuck the stem end into the headstall so that the leaves were sort of sticking up between my horse’s ears. The leaves would wave around with each head bob, which worked pretty well to keep deerflies away from his ears and poll area, and also even helped dissuade flies from getting on the upper portion of his face. I would also carry a leafy “crop” to use for brushing flies off the neck, shoulders, hindquarters, etc.

My method was surprisingly effective most of the time. The only downside was getting the horse used to having something waving around up there by his/her ears, but it usually didn’t take too long for them to realize it wasn’t a giant fly. :smile:


I’ll never forget arriving at the barn 9n summers day at 3pm. I’d never heard horses screaming before. They were all running the fence line, foaming in sweat and screaming. As they saw me, one literally jumped the fence to get up to the barn. I ran to the gate and let the all out and they raced into the barn, about 12 horses. I the. Saw huge, golf ball sized horse flies all over them, especially on their spines. Inside the barn the flies left them but the horse were heaving. Never say horses breathing so fast. I started taking them out one by one and other people arrived and helped I hosed them down but the flies attacked again once outside. We ended up throwing g buckets of water on the horses intheir stalls to cool th down. When the sun set we could give them a proper bath.

These flies wouldn’t dislodge if you swatted them, and they didn’t die either. You couldn’t get them off the horses. My God how they screamed.

My horse was stung on the eyeball. It was a hitchcockian nightmare.


That’s awful!! Where did this happen? What geographical area? In northern Michigan we get a very few of those HUGE flies late in the summer. They are also very slow, so easy to kill, but they have huge proboscis shaped like an arrowhead. Poor horses!


I’ve not had much luck with covers (sheets etc) protecting horses from those sight flies. They just bite right through the fly sheets. I’ve got soft ones, stiff ones, zebra print, none work on sight hunting flies here. My horses are in the barn from about noon to dusk by their own volition if I don’t have them “stalled”. The sight flies decrease in number the later we get into summer in my area. This is the worst month for them for us.

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This is my literal nightmare. We didn’t have horseflies much in California and I am terrorized by them thusly here in NJ. Until this year, the horse and deer flies seemed to be an August thing, but I am seeing some of them out already. Ick. Luckily ours are slow and I can kill them. In other news… how do flies find human ears? That’s been my challenge lately. Human ear flies and gnats. I feel like Pig Pen.


I don’t remember them being this bad in years past but we had a lot of rain in early spring and four days of it about a week ago. I am trying to keep going with this mare but this is ridiculous. By the time I lead her out to the arena I have 2 or 3 dive bombers, 5 or 7 greenheads, 4or 5 yellow flies around her legs, and gnats. Nobody cares about gnats anymore. Fly spray makes no difference.

And she doesn’t do flies at all. She has her stall door open so she comes in as soon as the sun comes up and doesn’t go outside until it gets dark, This has helped her grass consumption though! I had to drag her outside today to lunge for 5 minutes. But the really nasty thing about the flies - I do not put shavings in her stall since her door is always open and I want her to pee outside… But she has decided that she will pee on her bare mats and let it splash all over here rather than go out for a minute to pee. ICK!!! I love shoveling up the lake everyday.

Good to know about the fly covers. I probably wasn’t going to make an expensive purchase but would try to make something, It doesn’t sound like that would be a good use of my time. The blue flower pot does not attract deer flies at all. I will try the large blue balls to see if they work. And maybe I can rig up some version of the black ball trap for the dive bombers close to the arena, She needs to do something this summer besides eating hay under a fan.

I remember swimming as a kid and coming out of the water and being bitten by a dive bomber. Those things hurt!


The bites do hurt. Bad!

Early morning is the best here for avoiding flies. Bonus it’s less hot.

I have been trying 8AM but that really isn’t early morning. I need to try earlier to see if that works. I HATE summer.


Nothing I know actually helps with the big flies. I went to Ocala National Forest one year in May. I had 26 fly bites on me by the time I left. We were swarmed. Had to gallop back. They will bite right through your pants, t-shirt, etc. There were not any flies out on the dirt roads. We took a ride in the hot sun, rather than get attacked by bugs.

For some strange reason, the bugs were not bad this year at all. Maybe drier weather? But there are a ton of ponds, so you would think they would be terrible.

i was working in one of the corrals today and deer flies where pretty bad. I wore thick cotton turtleneck with too long arms that covered half of my hands, and a ragged old flannel shirt over that to protect my bakc and shoulders. A big brimmed floppy straw hat.

My horses have become nocturnal already. I have big giant floor fans in all the barns.

Our sheep get sheared on 13-15 and they will be given access to barns with horses until their fleece grows back (about a month or so). Cattle are Highlands, so they do pretty well with deer flies and the green eyes, but the big black ones that come later cover their toplines.

Yes. Summer is the hard season.

530 am is tolerable.

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I will have to see if the bugs are still asleep at 5:30. I am retired so I can always take a noonday nap when it is hot.


I have used a Kensington fly sheet (these are sort of stiff sheets) and it helped reduce sight fly bites.

My husband bought me a Horse Pal Fly Trap last Christmas and it has been getting a workout here for the last month or so. It works great and it has significantly reduced the horse fly and deer fly population at my place.


If you can set up a high power fan, that may be the most effective way to keep the flies away. A more long term plan is investing in an H-trap. They are expensive but I have seen a reduction in the population of biting flies after having one set up for 3 years.


I’ve had an H-trap for a few years and didn’t catch much last year. Just went to the website again and found out you can buy bait … the testing indicates a huge increase in the number of flies caught using bait so I am excited!