Blog

March 2021

Fly Myths

Fly Myths Horse

As the days get longer and warmer, what is the one thing that ruins summer? FLIES! Whether you are going on a hack or just spending some extra time with your horse, flies have to come along and interrupt the fun. So we reach for the fly spray to help us and our equines to keep them at bay. Yet so many myths about different ingredients and formulations exist, it can be hard to tell which is best.
Here are 3 myths busted on all things fly spray related. Hopefully, this can help you find the spray best suited to your needs.

1. Fly sprays kill flies

A common misconception is that fly sprays work to kill flies. Although to an equine this would be an ideal scenario, flies play a vital role in pollination and as well as in the food chain. Flies don’t have eyes, they instead find horses through their bodily secretions – not the nicest thing to think about I know! These are things such as lactic acid from sweat and carbon dioxide that your horse breathes out. Therefore, fly repellents work to mask these smells so make the horse ‘ invisible’ to being detected by the fly.

 

Summer evening horse flies

 

2. The worse the fly spray smells, the better it will work

One of the best known fly repellent ingredients, is DEET. This is a synthetic compound that was originally made for soldiers trekking through the rain forest in 1946. It’s not so well known that it is nearly scentless. DEET has a fantastic action over midges – the pesky flies that cause Sweet Itch, among other flying and biting insects. While the true action of DEET on insects is still being debated, the compound works to confuse the flies receptors making it harder for the horse to be found and therefore bitten. So if you want a super strong fly repellent, choosing a DEET based fly spray is doesn’t mean you and your horse will have to smell toxic all summer long. Looking out for higher percentage of DEET content – normally found on the back of the bottle in the ingredients list, will ensure you pick one that will last a long time too.

Flygard Extra Strength from Carr & Day & Martin is currently the strongest DEET based fly spray on the UK market coming in at 20% DEET which could last up to 12 hours! Being HSE registered, you can trust it will work without smelling lethal!

Flygard Extra Strength

 

3. Natural fly sprays don’t work for a long time – or at all!

Natural fly sprays have a terrible reputation for not working. With so many different formulations it can be an expensive quest to find a natural but effective approach to fly control. Here we have to look at the ingredients, particularly the level of the active ingredients. Citronella has been used in fly control for generations in the equine industry. However in recent times, it has been deemed an ineffective fly repellent ingredient. This is due to the lack of scientific evidence to prove it has an effect on flies. This doesn’t mean citronella cannot be used in fly sprays. Under EU law, a natural fly spray must contain another active ingredient that has a proven action on flies to be classed as a fly repellent. This could be an ingredient such as lesser known Citriodiol. This is a completely natural compound that comes from eucalyptus oil. It has been proven to have a similar action over flies to DEET, making it an ideal natural alternative. So if you’re a fan of citronella, don’t fear! Just double check there is another ingredient listed on the back.
If you’re still sceptical about natural fly sprays working, pay close attention to the strength of the active ingredient which is normally displayed as a percentage on the back of the bottle. This can give an indication of how long the product will last, with the higher the concentration meaning the product will be longer lasting. Citromax from Carr & Day & Martin is currently the strongest Citriodiol based fly spray on the market, offering an effective natural option.

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