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Thu Aug 5, 2021, 02:01 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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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
in2herbs Aug 2021 OP
tirebiter Aug 2021 #1
Random Boomer Aug 2021 #3
MuseRider Aug 2021 #2
Duppers Aug 2021 #4
in2herbs Aug 2021 #5
Duppers Aug 2021 #6

Response to tirebiter (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 05:30 PM

3. Not funny

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Response to in2herbs (Original post)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 02:51 PM

2. I don't have time to read all of this before I have to leave

but I saw the part about fly spray and your horses. It is the same here. I had the discussion with my farrier just a week ago when the horses were stomping and moving around and it did not help, the flies were all over. My stall spray helps a bit still but not a lot. I will read the rest when I return. I am glad (well not really glad but..) to know that it is not just here.

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Response to in2herbs (Original post)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 06:18 PM

4. Jeepers!

That's awful. Sorry, I've no advice.

I've used spray Permethrin on my clothing before going out at night. (Used drug store cans & ordered a big bottle of concentrate to kill mites & fleas in our lawn. I'm sure you know about this.)

However, here on the eastcoast we're seeing less and less insects this year & a decrease in bird populations. Now, we can walk every night without being bitten by mosquitoes. And we've not seen a housefly all summer.
And I've been getting emails like this (which sure doesn't apply to your part of the country)...
The insect apocalypse: ĎOur world will grind to a halt without themí: Insects have declined by 75% in the past 50 years Ė and the consequences may soon be catastrophic.

It's not decreasing the fly populations where you are.

Good luck, in2herbs. Wish I had some advice.

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Response to Duppers (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 08:28 PM

5. How many days a year would you say the temp is over 95 degrees where you live? nt

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Response to in2herbs (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 5, 2021, 10:06 PM

6. With heat index factored in, I'd say 20 this Year.

But in real thermometer temps, it's 0 this yr. It's been cooler for some reason.

A decade ago, it would have been up to 10days in real temps. As most of the country has been overheating, our little neck of woods here on the southern Virginia coast has been a few degrees cooler.

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