Shoo-Fly! 8 Methods for How to Get Rid of Horse Flies

Horse Fly in a branch

Insects: love them or hate them, are just part of life. We know the usual offenders, like the random spider on the wall, a bee buzzing around your flowered patio, ants at a picnic; and then those flies! Houseflies, as annoying as they are, are relatively harmless, you know… minus the regurgitating on your food. Horse flies are the stuff nightmares are made of. One you’ve got them, you’ll run through the town, ringing a bell and asking everyone you see how to get rid of horse flies.

What Is a Horse Fly?

Horse fly in a leaf

Image via unsplash

In short, this is a miniature, flying vampire. In a world full of many kinds of flies, it’s important to know which fly is in front of you so you know how much you should worry and what kind of effort to put in to getting rid of and prevent them. So, how many kinds of flies are there? 120,000 to be exact.

The Housefly

You know these guys. They can’t take a hint, and no matter how much you shoo or swat at them, they keep coming back and miraculously appear to multiply right in front of your eyes. They like to walk all over your food, and that’s gross enough. They’re not just taking fly-sized bites of your food, either. No, the only way for a housefly to ingest anything is to vomit on it. Yep. That starts breaking it down so they can sponge it back up.

As if that’s not bad enough, and it is, they can carry various diseases like:

  • E. coli
  • Staphylococcus
  • Salmonella
  • Typhoid fever
  • Cholera
  • Polio
  • Dysentery
  • Hepatitis

So, yeah. Doing everything you can to get these suckers out of your house and away from your food is a great thing.

Blow Flies

At least these guys look cool. They’re a bright metallic green or blue and like to hang around dumpsters and rotting flesh. They seek carcasses, and that’s where they lay their eggs. In a weird medical turn, the blow fly can lay its eggs in a wound and its larvae, i.e. maggots, can clean out a wound. Or you can get some Neosporin—it’s up to you.

Flower Flies

These little clones like to mimic a wasp, but if you get close enough, you’ll see their eyes and antennae are a dead giveaway. If you see these in your garden, rejoice! They’ll kill other insects that want to harm your plants. They don’t bite humans and won’t go after your food.

The Dreaded Horse Fly

First, we feel terrible for horses. They’ve been plagued so much by these monsters that we’ve named the fly after their victim. Horse flies are drawn to large dark objects, movement, and carbon dioxide—meaning, all warm-blooded mammals, and, for those of you who missed biology, that’s you.

We find them particularly near livestock and still or slow-moving bodies of water. They breed in moist soil near those bodies of water but can spread their wings and roam up to 30 miles away. Even the larvae start out as predators and resort to cannibalism when no other food source is found.

In adulthood, the males pose no threat to mammals. They’ll grandstand and pretend to bite, but they just don’t have a mouth made for biting, so they stick to nectar. Females need blood to lay their eggs, so if you encounter a hungry female horse fly, she’ll be aggressive, and if she bites you, you’ll know it.

Should You Get Rid of Horse Flies?

There is no environmental impact to killing the houseflies in and around your home. They’re not endangered, and you getting rid of the several hundred in your vicinity will not create a climate avalanche of destruction affecting generations to come. They have a place in the circle of life, but it will be ok if they’re just not on your land.

You definitely want to follow through on how to get rid of horse flies, and you’ll want to do it sooner rather than later.

Horse Fly Bites

Unlike a mosquito bite, horse fly bites really hurt. We’re not talking a small puncture wound like we get from most biting insects; these ladies have expanding saw-like jaws that jab and slice open your flesh. She adds her own anticoagulant, too, so your blood won’t clot, and then she goes to town. Yeah, that’s going to leave a mark.

You’ll not only know when one of these has bitten you, but so will everyone else. Almost everyone will get a raised, red mark around the itchy hole she left in you. Treat it like a wound: wash it and monitor it so it doesn’t get infected. Severe allergic reactions are rare, but get immediate medical attention if you exhibit symptoms of anaphylactic shock:

  • Swelling around the eyes or of the face, lips, hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking for breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Tongue or airway swelling

We’ve seen horse flies make grown men and women well up with tears and completely leave an area forever to prevent another horse fly bite. Keeping that in mind, we’ve done the research for you for how to get rid of horse flies.

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies: 8 Methods

Now you know why to do it, it’s time to learn how to get rid of horse flies. The first and easiest way is to target them at certain points in their life cycle, starting with bearing in mind how much they like water.

Remove Standing Water

If your kids leave the hose running all day and you live within 30 miles of a larger body of water, your wet soil could become a breeding ground for horse flies. Dry the areas that don’t need to be wet. If your kids have a wading pool they only use once a month, don’t leave it filled with gross water. Dump it and let it and the ground dry completely.

If you have a pool, hot tub, or fountain, remember to keep the proper levels of chemicals in it at all times so it doesn’t seem like stagnant water to flies.

Sticky Fly Paper

Yep, the good ol’ standby is popular for a reason. It works. Flies go to check it out and are trapped by the glue covering both sides of the tape. Because the blood sucking horse flies are attracted to mammals, keep these near you to grab the gals as they’re zipping toward your skin. Downside? You can see them flailing around while they’re trapped.

Pesticides

We know this sounds harsh, and most of you are already shaking your heads, but flies hate pesticides made with pyrethroids—natural and made from dried chrysanthemum plants. You can feel good using this around your pets and kids. While you’re at it, plant a bunch of mums around your yard. They repel many insects you don’t want around.

Bug Zappers

If a female horse fly has bitten you, this is the way to get rid of horse flies that will give you a sense of accomplishment and revenge because you hear the zap of horse flies bursting into flames. Just remember, it kills any insect that flies into it, so if you have a lot of honeybees, butterflies, or any other endangered, beautiful or helpful bugs, this may not be for you.

Odor Baits

If you want to one-two horse flies, place an odor bait right next to a zapper or fly strip. Try these odors to entice those penny sized vampires:

  • Acetone—yes, nail polish remover mimics the smell of cow saliva and flies will make a mad dash for it
  • Ammonia—if you can stand it or can put it on the outskirts of where you’ll be, the flies will think this is cow or horse urine
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking for breathing
  • Store-bought bait—you can do a search online and find packets of horse fly odor attractant to mix up and place next to your trap

Funnel Traps

Do you want to know how to get rid of horse flies in a sneaky way? Just buy a couple funnel traps. There’s a funnel at the top leading to a bag at the bottom. In the bag, you put bait food—a piece of meat, nail polish remover or use what comes with it. The flies fly in but the funnel only has one way doors so they can’t get back out. When it fills up, throw it out and get a new one.

Horse Fly Traps

So many people have asked how to get rid of horse flies, and they’re such a nuisance, that we have given them their own trap. Use it in direct sunlight because it’s got an inflatable black ball that absorbs light and makes the horse flies think it’s a mammal. The females flock to it, fly upwards looking for a place to bite for blood, and get trapped in a one-way funnel contraption.

Prevention

Our last trap is to not invite them to your space in the first place. Prevent horse flies by:

  • Burning citronella candles
  • Burning incense—they hate smoke
  • Keeping your yard mowed and trimmed
  • Coveing pools and hot tubs when not in use

Conclusion

Being bitten by a female horse fly is no joke and not something you’ll likely forget. When they swarm your property, you can get trapped inside your own home. Figure out how to get rid of horse flies that works best for you, sneak out under the cover of night and wait for the show to begin the next morning.

Featured Photo by MOHD AZRIEN AWANG BESAR on Unsplash

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