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Thu Aug 5, 2021, 01:58 PM


I donít have a college degree with which to render me a credible resource on this topic so I am reaching out to anyone on DU that is willing to share information known to them. Often times, knowledge gained from others is greater than knowledge gained from a book.

Taking care of horses is a 24/7/365 job, one which I have been doing for 30+ years. While I canít discuss climate change with scientists I know that it is real because I see the changes in our environment that are occurring now and the changes that have occurred leading up to this now. For example, and the purpose of this post, thirty years ago I used two or three 16-oz cans of fly spray per fly season for about 10 horses, applying a light application once per day. At that time the summer heat and fly season was generally June through August. The summer heat and fly season now is generally April through November.

Thus far, during this 2021 heat/fly season, I have used in excess of six GALLONS of fly spray for 3 horses. I began to wonder whether this increasingly excessive amount of fly spray was due to the ineffectiveness of the chemicals in the fly spray once the outside temperature reaches or exceeds a certain temperature, and set about doing some research. Turns out there are scientists who believe this, as well.

According to one study, fly sprays containing pyrethrins tested against mosquitos is most effective up to 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 F) and practically ineffective against mosquitos at 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 F) and above. The average first 90-degree day in Phoenix is March 31. This year (2021), the temperature reached 95 degrees on that day and has been steadily climbing. According to that study and temperature records, where I live, the use of fly sprays (containing pyrethrins) would be ineffective in the fight against mosquitos and mosquito-caused West Nile virus during the entire heat/fly season.

I donít remember there being an issue with horses and culicoides (no-see-ums) thirty years ago here in the Southwest. However, for the past fifteen years or so the no-see-um season has become an annual springtime event --- until 2020. In 2020 the culicoides made their appearance in mid-September, likely because the temperatures were still above 105 F. Culicoides donít care if they bite human or animal and each bite produces a histamine reaction. There can be dozens of bites on a horseís body at one time. Hence the attempt with fly spray to keep the culicoides at bay.

I donít mind spending money on my horses to make them comfortable, but this new-found knowledge that some (or all) of the chemical ingredients in fly sprays become ineffective above a certain temperature must be known to fly spray manufacturers, yet these corporations are silent about this issue. Is corporate profit the reason for their silence? A one-gallon jug of fly spray in my area is $50 plus tax.

Years ago I tried a feed-thru fly insecticide for horses. I wonder if it wasnít effective because a healthy horseís internal temperature is generally 95 degrees and above?

In my research I also read a study on cats and fleas. A common ingredient in these sprays is Piperonyl butoxide. The temperature range for this chemical is most effective up to 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 F) and is rendered essentially ineffective at 35 degrees Celsius (95 F) and above.

The scientists authoring the studies I read all warned that climate change is causing a negative effect globally on the insecticides and pesticides used to control insects, and my personal experience agrees. Is anyone else living in areas with warming summer seasons experiencing a lack of efficiency with any fly sprays they are using? Clearly climate change affects everything. While each of us is adapting individually to these changes, we must continue to push our elected representatives --- at all levels of government, to recognize this and make it a top priority to reverse it now, not later.

I have tried the natural fly sprays but found that on our hot days of summer they are just as ineffective as sprays containing chemicals. Years ago I fed my trail horse garlic for fly control. I donít remember how effective the garlic was for fly control, I only remember meeting other riders on the trail saying he smelled like an Italian restaurant. There is one horse on property who refuses to wear a fly mask and, of course, flies and other insects gravitate towards his eyes and ears. In an attempt to provide him relief I combine zinc ointment and lavender oil which I apply daily around his eyes (not ears). This has been 95+% effective in repelling flies around his eyes.

Iíd like to know if you are experiencing increasing ineffectiveness using fly spray on hot summer days and read what your suggestions are for anything that you think can be substituted for chemical fly control.

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Response to in2herbs (Original post)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 07:44 PM

1. Am glad I read that, because I think you do a good job of getting the info on what you're doing ...

... have you talked to the ag extension in your county? Maybe tried talking to a large animal vet or the ag dept at a local college?

Really good questions!

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Response to marble falls (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 08:26 PM

2. I have an excellent relationship with my equine vet and we often share ideas

about horse health, often times making for lively, in-depth discussions as she is conventional med and I am alternative med. I will contact her and ask her who she thinks would be someone to contact and go from there. Thnx.

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Response to in2herbs (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 08:41 PM

3. My sister was a ranked English Hunt Rider in Ohio. I have more experience as a stable hand ...

... I've dealt with more, cribbing, colic, and pure out and out horse-headedness, like being crowded and leaned on against a wall than I care to remember. I used to be a western trail rider, I never rode the quality of horses my sister did. Horses can be so loving and then so contrary a minute later. Still love looking at them, but I don't ride anymore. My sister is leaving law and has been certified for horse therapy for children now that she's in her early sixties.

Good luck, you sure seem intent on good treatment for your string!

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Response to marble falls (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 8, 2021, 11:20 AM

4. Sorry for the delayed response but I want to say that your sister is a special kind of person.

If she is anywhere near a mounted police department tell her that getting them involved and holding desensitization clinics for riders and their horses (non-therapy) is a great fund raiser. Otherwise, if she will have access to a large arena (preferably covered due to weather) the same sort of obstacles that the cops use to desensitize their police horses can be put up to challenge rider and horse. It really is a money-maker for non-profits and fun, but it is a lot of work to put on.

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