March 5, 2024

Horse Fly Traps: At Home Remedies for Flies

Horse flies thrive in moist areas rife with suitable hosts, and you can even find hoards of these insects creeping around grassy spots in your yard. If you have any large animals like cows or horses on your property, there’s a good chance you’ll spot these pests flitting around their eyes.

If you have a horse fly infestation around your home or pastures, consider utilizing horse fly traps to decrease their populations. Here are the best resources for creating or purchasing effective horse fly traps!

Why do Horse Flies Bite?

While horse flies spend most of their time pestering large animals, their diet does not solely consist of blood. Horse flies primarily consume plant nectar and materials. 

Like mosquitoes, horse flies rely on a mammal’s blood to support reproduction. Without a horse’s, cow’s, or even a human’s blood, a female horse fly would not have enough energy to sustain egg production. 

Close up of a horse fly

You may not notice a mosquito as it lands on you to feed, but you’ll immediately become aware of a horse fly trying to take a bite! A horse fly's mouth consists of two sharp blade-like appendages that can cut the skin to reach an animal’s blood. 

We can easily swat away these pesky flies when they deliver painful bites, but other animals aren’t as lucky. If you’ve ever observed groups of horses, you may spot them frequently flicking their tails upwards or shuddering to remove the flies on their body.

Can Horse Flies Infest my Home?

Horse flies prefer to frequent outdoor spaces, but they can still accidentally make their way indoors. If you have livestock or other large animals, horse flies could migrate from those areas into your home. 

If you spot a horse fly inside, don’t worry! It isn’t likely that there is more buzzing about, and you can quickly dispose of the pests. 

Horse flies primarily stay outdoors, so you should be more concerned if you see copious amounts of these insects flying around your yard.

If you have tall grass, a pool, or a pond, horse flies can fly around your yard and land on you for a quick bite. Female horse flies prefer to lay their eggs in damp locations and may congregate around these areas. In the summer, rainy regions in Washington may also see an uptick in horse fly populations!

According to the Washington State Department of Health, you can prevent horse flies by removing debris from your yard like straw, tree limbs, hay, or grass clippings and mowing your lawn. These pests tend to group together in dense grassy areas. 

Do Horse Flies Carry Diseases? 

During the hot summer months, mosquitoes come out in full force, and many regions contend with an increase of cases like West Nile virus or malaria. Fortunately, horse flies cannot transfer similar diseases when they bite humans. 

However, horse flies can easily transmit blood-borne diseases, like swamp fever, to new animals. If one has the illness, the next animal could contract the sickness as the horse fly feeds. 

Horse with covering over it's eyes

When bitten by an infected horse fly, a horse will begin to experience anemia, low blood pressure, and general malaise. Because of the quick onset of this illness, some horses could die without expressing any troubling symptoms. 

There are no medically preventative measures for this disease, so keeping horse flies away from your livestock and animals is key to keeping them safe. While they may not spread anything to humans, their painful bite can cause an uncomfortable reaction. 

Ready to Use Horse Fly Traps

We recommend utilizing horse fly traps to protect your property from these blood-sucking insects.

Many pest manufacturers offer pre-made traps that you can place in your yard or pasture. Some horse fly traps electrify the pests as they fly too close. Some contain bait that entices the bugs to fall in and drown.

You should pick the best trap for your specific needs. If you have flies around your porch, an electric trap could quickly dispel many of these painful pests. However, this option might not be feasible in damp or rainy areas. 

A bagged bait trap can catch some flies around your pool or in fields, but the flies may not climb into the traps with other nutritional sources nearby. Warmth and carbon dioxide attract horse flies, so they may not pass up a hot meal for a baited trap.

Some specialized horse fly traps contain a device that heats up with the sun and mimics the appearance of a warm body. A horse fly will approach the trap and attempt to feed, becoming trapped as they try to exit out of the top.

While this solution is more foolproof, you may have some difficulty trapping large amounts of flies during overcast days. All traps can get the job done, so shop around to see what works for you!

Homemade Horse Fly Traps

When you’re creating a DIY horse fly trap, the choices are limitless! Whether you want to mimic the design of a purchasable option or make something entirely new, we can help you figure out the right alternative.

Umbrella Horse Style Trap

The University of Missouri recommends using an umbrella-style or “Manitoba-type" trap to ensnare these biting insects. To make a similar trap, you’ll need:

  • Plastic or glass jar
  • Soda bottle
  • Wooden plank
  • Mosquito netting or plastic sheets
  • A black ball of your choosing
  • Grommets
  • Ropes/Strings/Cords
  • Ground stakes 

To construct your own horse fly trap, follow these steps:

  • Form the outside panels of the trap with the sheets or netting
  • Combine the panels into a tent shape by stapling, sewing, or gluing the sides together
  • Attach a pole to the center of your tent-like contraption
  • Affix a black ball (any of your choosing) onto the pole with a cord
  • Use a grommet to attach rope or string to the edges of the tent
  • Stake the rope or string into the ground to flare out

After forming the outside sheeting, grab a jar and a soda bottle. Cut the bottom part of the bottle off, leaving behind the top. Glue this to the lid of your jar, and staple, glue, or nail the jar lid to the wooden plank. Cut a small hole through the plank and the lid.

You can now attach the jar lid to the rest of your trap. As the flies flock to the ball, they will fly upwards to the top of the soda bottle and into the jar. The flies can’t exit back out of the trap, and you can easily unscrew the jar and deposit the flies elsewhere. 

Check out the University of Missouri’s article for more information!

Utility Tub House Fly Trap

While this method will require some construction, you can frequently reuse this sturdy trap. Plus, if you’re a crafty individual, you can knock out this project over the weekend!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two 2x4 planks
  • Two 1x3 planks
  • 1 28’’x30’’ acrylic sheet
  • Black paint
  • Black utility tub

Spray your wooden pieces with the black paint and place your glass sheet centered on one of the 2x4 planks. On top, line up the other 2x4 with the one below the glass.

Fasten the wood pieces together with a screw to both ends. With a torch, warp the underside of the glass into a v-shape that rests on both sides of the wood. Screw the other two wooden pieces to the sides of the top 2x4. 

If you want to secure this to your tub, you can drill the wooden 2x4s into the top of the container. After this, fill the tub with water and dish soap and place it out in the sun. 

The sun will heat the painted wooden pieces as the sun reflects off the glass. The flies will fall into the water as they attempt to feed on the dark wood. The soapy water will make it impossible for the flies to crawl out.

Here’s a video that better illustrates the steps and how well it holds up against horse flies!

Horse flies are difficult pests to beat, and their sting can leave you wincing in pain. Zunex knows how annoying these pests can be, and we want to help prevent them from landing on your property. 

Whenever you struggle with horseflies (and the traps aren't cutting it), contact us today!

By Allison Clayton 

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