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Identi-Fly! Pictorial of the 6 Most Common Pests

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 Few things are more annoying to a horse than the pests that descend on the barn and pasture this time of year.  Beyond the stable fly, there are actually other flies lurking in your barn. 

Identifying the right product to prevent and kill flies starts with identifying the flies themselves.  We won't quiz you! But, here is a pictorial of the most common species of flying pests.  Lucky for you, our Pro-Force Fly Spay and Opti-Force spray repels all of these pests to give your horse complete protection. 


Stable Fly You are probably most familiar with these biting flies.  They are dark gray in color with four dark stripes on the thorax. The stable fly measures 5-8mm in length and generally lives around livestock facilities.  Adult female stable flies will lay up to 50 eggs in decaying animal or plant waste.  

Horse Fly (a/k/a deer fly).  One of the world's largest flies, horse flies are noisy during flight and well known for their vicious and painful bites.  They feed (often for several minutes at a time) on the blood of horses and other warm blooded animals.  You may be able to tell your horse has been bitten by a horse fly by the drop or two of blood that is usually left behind on the wound.

Face Fly The face fly averages 7-8mm in length, is gray in color with 4 dark stripes on the thorax and a grey-black patterned abdomen. In male face flies, the eyes almost touch when viewed from above. Adults come out of winter hibernation in March and April to feed on manure and plant juices, as well as on the secretions of the eyes, mouths, and nostrils of horses and cattle.  They will also feed on the blood exposed by horse fly bites.

Horn Fly Horn flies are smaller than most, measuring about half the size of the common house fly, and are the smallest of the biting flies.  They are gray in color, with dark reddish-brown eyes, and have slender, black, piercing mouthparts that project from the bottom of the head.  

House Fly  The most common of all domestic flies, adult house flies are 8-12mm long, with a gray thorax and four dark lines on the back.  The entire body of the house fly is covered with hair-like projections.  Females lay eggs in batches of 75-150. House flies have a tendency to aggregrate, and can carry dangerous pathogens.  Although, they don't bite.   They are usually confined to human habitations, but can fly several miles from their breeding home.

Midges These are a group of insects that include many kinds of small flies.  They are found mainly in coastal regions as they lay their eggs in wet places like sand.  Biting midges measure less than 1/4 of an inch, which is why they are commonly refered to as No-See-Ums!  they actually look like a dainty mosquito.  The saliva from the midges cause a very bad itchy reaction for horses called sweet itch usually around the horse's ears and tail. Manna Pro's Pro-Force Fly Spray is actually proven to repel midges! 

It is super important to limit your horse’s exposure to these bugs and the diseases they may carry.  The Force Fly Control line is specifically designed to repel a broad spectrum of insects.

  • The Pro-Force ® Fly Spray is a powerful spray that repels and kills more than 70 species of insects. You will notice a floral scent, compared to the pungent scent of most fly sprays.  The Pro-Force Fly Spray Gallon can actually be used as a premise spray too! 
  • Opti-Force ® Fly Spray for horses is truly top of the line. It is a 14 day weather and sweat resistant spray for many uses: Riding, in the pasture, in the barn.   It is great if you are not able to spray your horse for a few days, as this spray provides long lasting protection.
  • The Nature’s Force ® Fly Spray has a blend of 5 oils and other ingredients that are safe around children and pets, while still offering 24 hour protection. A lot of natural sprays get a bad rap because they don’t work, but this spray offers 24 hour protection and is organic.
  • Finally nothing is more irritating to your horse than those nasty critters gathering around their eyes while they are trying to graze. The Insect Shield ® Repellent Gear from Opti-Force ® is a fly mask with a built-in invisible and odorless insect protectant and comes in both horse and XL sizes!
  • Now a BIG TIP…any time a new horse arrives or a new spray, make sure you test it on a one square foot area on the flank or rump. Give it 12 to 24 hours and make sure the horse is not allergic.

Remember, multiple products give more results. A fly spray and a mask will give better results than just one product alone. Good luck!

Jennifer Serot

Jennifer Serot

Jennifer is the newest member of the Manna Pro Equine Team. She has been riding and showing dressage for 20 years and enjoys spending time with her Connemara pony. Jennifer graduated with her BSBA and MBA in Marketing from Washington University in St. Louis.


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