Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring -- the Good and the Ugly by Alison Hart

I love spring. I am a gardener, so I totally enjoy  the early bulbs and flowering bushes. My violas and pansies wintered over despite the cold and snow, surprising me with early bounty and beauty.  The daffodils were short-lived because of the rain, but bright and cheery.  I've planted peas, spinach and lettuce, and seeded the lawn. I moved the horses into a smaller pasture so there is no foundering (a problem for our mare). Still there is enough lush grass so they are ignoring their flakes of hay and pigging out, but not getting too fat. The rains have been gentle and perfect for everything growing in Virginia, All good, right?

But after the rains came the mud. And after the mud came the warm sun and the FLIES.  Blissfully ignorant, the dogs and I headed to the barn to feed and BAM, there they were, swarming in mass around Belle's and Relish's heads. They arrived as fully-formed adults as if there was no life cycle.  Fortunately the horses roll daily (especially after being brushed) in the mud, so the flies can't penetrate the thick coating of dirt (which my curry combs are having trouble penetrating as well.) And their coats and ears are still fuzzy, so the flies aren't too annoying except for around the horses's eyes where they are relentless. Truth be told, the person they are really annoying is ME.  
Good Old Virginia Mud



The ugly side of spring
Despite the advanced technology and civilization of humans, we--I --  can not eradicate them. Flies not only ignore my efforts, they stick up their little middle fingers at me. Has anyone found a repellent or insecticide that actually works? I tried the feed pellets that kills the larvae in the manure, but the dairy farmer across the street does little in the way of fly management, so my attempts at squelching the population went unnoticed (and the additive is super-expensive.) I use fly masks, only when the horses roll in the spring mud, the masks get caked, too. Spray seems to be effective for short bursts but too much makes Belle's hair fall out around her face. I try not to keep a manure pile, clean the barn every day, and use fans in the summer. Still, the flies are winning.

Horse owners -- we need to band together! The first step is sharing anything that you have found effective against flies. Please!

And as always, enjoy the lovely side of spring.



6 comments:

CG said...

I've been using fly predators for about 6-7 years. I do think they help. I also have neighbors that don't help with their 5 horses next door, but the neighbor on the other side mentioned he noticed there were more flies the one year I didn't use them...

Laura Crum said...

I use fly traps. If I put them out early (like now) they really do seem to help. I have been meaning to try fly predators, too.

Alison said...

Laura, do the fly traps 'attract' flies though? That was my one experience when we had "Big Stinky".

CG - Linda has posted before about using fly predators and I could never get around to ordering them at the right time. My fault! With a dairy farm near by, do you think they would make a dent?

Francesca Prescott said...

I have no idea! I think I've tried everything! Garlic is supposed to help but it didn't do much when I tried it, and none of my horses have ever seemed to think it's the best thing since sliced carrots...

Laura Crum said...

Well, yes, the fly traps attract flies. I put them by the chicken coop, by the compost pile, by the garbage...etc.Anywhere that I don't hang out and where flies will be attracted anyway. I put them at the back of the corrals. They attract the flies and trap them and kill them so overall there are less flies. They do stink.

Breathe said...

I used predators and they help but the flies are still ridiculous. They do make a dent even if you have a non-predator next door. Flies don't really like long treks, so it can help.

But I haven't found a spray that works very well. Lily's tails remains the best swatter.