Tips & Tricks

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies – Complete Guide

horse flies

Horse flies are a pesky nuisance for anyone who loves spending time outdoors. These large, biting flies can be not only annoying but also potentially dangerous, as they are known to transmit diseases to both humans and animals. Getting rid of horse flies can be a challenge, but there are several effective methods you can try.

What is a Horsefly

Horseflies are insects that belong to the Tabanidae family. They are large flies, ranging from ΒΌ inch to 1 inch in size, and have brightly colored eyes, stout bodies, and sharp mouthparts. The female horsefly feeds on the blood of mammals and birds, making it a major pest for livestock and people who enjoy outdoor activities.

Do horse flies bite?

Female horse flies feed on the blood of mammals, including horses, cattle, dogs, and humans. They use their sharp mandibles to cut through the skin and then use their proboscis to suck out the blood. Horsefly bites are painful, and the wound can take a long time to heal.

What does a horsefly look like?

Horseflies are large, stout-bodied flies that range in color from black to brown, gray, or green. They have large, brightly colored eyes, which help them to locate their prey. The wings of a horsefly are transparent and veined, and they have six legs.

What attracts horseflies?

Horseflies are attracted to a variety of things, including heat, movement, and carbon dioxide. They are also attracted to dark colors and shiny surfaces, such as the chrome on a car. Horseflies are more active during the hottest parts of the day, so they are often found near bodies of water or in open fields.

Where do horseflies live?

Horseflies can be found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. Horseflies are found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and grassy areas. They prefer warm, moist environments and are most active during the hottest parts of the day. Horseflies are often found near bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and ponds, as they use the water as a breeding ground.

Life Cycle of a Horsefly

Horseflies go through a complete metamorphosis, which includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female horseflies lay their eggs on vegetation near bodies of water, such as leaves or stems. The larvae hatch from the eggs and drop into the water, where they feed on small aquatic organisms. After several molts, the larvae move to the edge of the water and pupate. The adult horsefly emerges from the pupa and begins to feed on the blood of mammals.

How to Keep Horseflies Away from You

There are several things you can do to keep horseflies away from you, including:

  1. Wear light-colored clothing. Horseflies are attracted to dark colors, so wearing light-colored clothing can help to deter them.
  2. Use insect repellent. There are several types of insect repellents that are effective against horseflies, including DEET and picaridin.
  3. Cover up. Wearing long sleeves and pants can help to prevent horsefly bites.
  4. Use a fan. Horseflies have difficulty flying in windy conditions, so using a fan can help to keep them away.
  5. Avoid peak hours of activity. Horseflies are most active during the hottest parts of the day, so it’s best to avoid being outdoors during these times.

How to Keep Horse Flies off Horses

If you have a horsefly infestation, there are several things you can do to get rid of them, including:

Remove Standing Water

One of the most effective ways is to minimize standing water around horses. Horseflies are attracted to moisture, and standing water is a breeding ground for them. By eliminating or reducing sources of standing water, such as troughs, buckets, or puddles, you can greatly reduce the number of horseflies in the area.

Use Repellents

Using natural or commercial repellents can also help to repel horseflies. Commercial repellents, such as DEET, are widely available and effective at keeping horseflies away from you and your property. Natural repellents, such as essential oils, may be less effective but are still worth trying if you don’t want to use chemical repellents. Citronella, lavender, mint, and clove essential oils are all known to keep horseflies away. Making your own homemade repellent by mixing these essential oils with some water is an easy and inexpensive way to repel horseflies.

Encourage Natural Predators

If you have horseflies in your area, it is likely that there are also other organisms that eat them, such as birds and spiders. Encouraging these natural predators can help keep the population of horseflies under control. Planting trees and shrubs can provide a habitat for these animals and help them thrive in the area. You can also provide nesting boxes and food sources to attract more of these predators. By doing this, you will create a natural balance that helps keep horseflies at bay without having to use any chemical methods of control.

Use Traps

Another way to control horseflies is to set up fly traps. Here are some tips on how to use fly traps to control horseflies:

  • Choose the right type of trap: There are several types of fly traps available, such as sticky traps, bait traps, and light traps. Choose a trap that is designed to attract and capture horseflies.
  • Place the traps strategically: Place the traps in areas where horseflies are known to be active, such as near livestock, water sources, and garbage cans. Hang the traps at a height of about 4-6 feet above the ground, as horseflies tend to fly at this height.
  • Check the traps regularly: Check the traps daily to see if any horseflies have been caught. Dispose of the trapped insects according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Consider using homemade traps: You can make your own fly traps using materials like sticky tape, soda bottles, and vinegar. These homemade traps can be just as effective as store-bought traps and are often less expensive.

Cut Down Tall Grasses

Horseflies are attracted to tall grasses and other vegetation, as they use them for resting and breeding. Cutting down tall grasses and keeping your lawn well-maintained can help to reduce the number of horseflies around your home. 

Clean Yard 

Keeping a clean yard is another effective way to get rid of horseflies around horses. Horseflies are attracted to areas where there is an abundance of manure and other decaying organic matter. By cleaning up manure regularly and disposing of it properly, you can significantly reduce the number of horseflies in the area. Ideally, your manure pile should be as far away from your stables as possible. Additionally, regularly sweeping and raking the yard can help eliminate areas where horseflies can lay their eggs. By reducing the amount of organic matter in the area, you can create a less attractive environment for horseflies. A clean yard not only helps prevent horseflies, but it can also improve the overall health and hygiene of your horses.


Horseflies can be a nuisance, but with the right preventive measures and proactive approach, you can reduce their population in your yard and enjoy a pest-free outdoor area.


Do horse flies like vinegar?

Horseflies are not attracted to vinegar. In fact, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that vinegar can repel or attract horseflies. While vinegar has been shown to have some insecticidal properties, it is not a reliable or effective way to get rid of horseflies.

How long do horse flies live?

The lifespan of horseflies varies depending on the species and environmental conditions. In general, the adult stage of a horsefly can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Female horseflies require a blood meal to reproduce, and after feeding, they can lay up to 500 eggs in moist soil or vegetation near bodies of water.

Does garlic stop horse flies?

While garlic has been touted as a natural remedy to repel insects, including horseflies, there is little scientific evidence to support its effectiveness. Some studies suggest that consuming garlic may produce a slight odor in sweat and body fluids that may repel some insects, but the evidence is weak and inconsistent.

What smells do flies hate?

Flies are repelled by certain smells that humans find pleasant. Some of the smells that fly hate include Essential oils, Citrus, Vinegar, Herbs, and Cinnamon.

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