Keeping Bugs Away

Keeping Bugs Away

Winter is finally over, and mud season only lasts a couple of weeks. Next on the calendar is the bug season and it can make riding or walking in the woods unpleasant. Below are some suggestions to try to make the bugs more tolerable. Hope some of them work for you!

First, of course, you need to make sure your yard, barn, and turnouts are all dry and manure free. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Puddles that don’t dry up or water tubs that are never cleaned are great breeding grounds for these pesky and disease carrying bugs. Use some fill to level out the dips in the ground and empty, scrub and refill water bowls, tubs and buckets regularly.

The reported number of tick born diseases, such as Lyme, grow each year in the Northeast and are spreading across the country. If you are walking in the woods, wear light colored clothing, so you can see the ticks easier. Tuck your pants into your socks so there is a better barrier to your skin. Try to stay on the trails and not brush against shrubs. Try to keep your dog out of the brush and on the trails. There are many all natural wipes you can use on your dog before you go into the woods, if you don’t want to use the monthly chemical products from the vet. Or, even if you do, an all natural, human food grade wipe can’t hurt! A great idea for the horse is to apply a grooming product which adds shine to the coat, to his legs from the knees down. A tick can’t grab onto a slippery surface.

They make a lot of noise, but Guinea Fowl in your yard are known for eating bugs and ticks in particular. They make great watch birds also. No one will be sneaking up on you with guinea birds around!

The white footed mouse is the biggest host for growing ticks. If you dip cotton balls, or cotton sheeting into a strong bug repellent, and put them along the forest edge, they will take the cotton to their nests and the ticks will die before they are large enough to be a problem for dogs, horses or humans. Make sure you place the cotton outside of any animal or children’s reach.

According to the University of IL and KS State University, placing a dryer sheet under your crown of your bridle, in the collar of the dog or in your top pocket will help repel bugs. Linalool is a chemical in the sheet that is released and the bugs don’t like it.

Of course, a bug repellent is a given. There are many on the market, some of which are all natural. There are also many home made recipes easily found on the web. Most of them seem to start with a base of apple cider vinegar and essential oils, water, sometimes dish soap, etc. They probably won’t be as effective as those made with chemicals; they made need to be applied several times a day.

Fly masks have become the norm on horses turned out during fly season. Make sure they don’t rub, and check them at least every day. Many people also put fly sheets on their horses during turnout.

The last things we need to make sure we mention are fly predators. Biological flycontrol is a proven method of eliminating flies without the use of pesticides. These harmless, gnat-sized fly parasites are a natural enemy of flies. They deposit eggs in the fly pupa and destroy the immobilized fly during its pupal stage, before it before it becomes an adult biting insect. They work!

Hopefully the above suggestions will help you lower the level of biting insects in your world this summer and get you out into the barn, ring and woods more often!