Natural fly repellents, essential oils & more


Obviously with Jasper’s weeping sarcoids during the summer months keeping the flies at bay & Jasper happy as he lives out 24/7 becomes a big consideration.
He is very sensitive & can become quite agitated if they are bad, so there are several things that I do to try & help, if all else fails sometimes he has to come in for a bit during the day just so he can settle & relax.
Firstly I use a fly mask on him to keep them out of his eyes, if the flies are particularly active he also has a fly rug with a neck & wide belly strap which gives him a bit more protection, these will go on in the early morning & then come off in the late evening.
Another important consideration is keeping on top of your paddock management, collecting dung regularly & generally trying to make sure that there is nothing (or as little as possible) to attract flies in the first place & therefore reduce the number around the horses.
Most important for us is a good fly repellant, we tend to make our own now, using essential oils, as not only is it cheaper & more natural then the commercial ones on the market they also seem to be more effective.
From my time & travels in Africa & numerous battles with mosquitos, tsetse flies & various other biting flying nasties I know that what works in one area might not work in another so below I’ve included several that I hope you and your horses will find useful.
Caroline Ingraham’s recipes provide a good place to start:
1) This is the one we have used this year
20 drops Lavender
20 drops tea tree
20 drops eucalyptus
7 drops of garlic (this is pretty potent)
Add to 1 Litre of warm water (a drop of washing up liquid can help to infuse the oil & water as needed) place mixture in a spray bottle & apply as required, avoiding the eyes.
2) From her new Animal aromatics workbook
30 drops Peppermint
1-2ml Neem Oil (azadirachta indica)
For a spray add to 250 ml of watered down aloe vera gel (of a consistency that would spray). Shake well & apply, avoiding the eyes.
I haven’t tried this yet, but the idea of peppermint aroma seems far more appealing then the garlic.
A note of caution here, Neem oil alters the reproductive function of an insect, so apply caution or omit if using for breeding or pregnant animals.
3)I found this one on it incorporates vinegar & citronella that I remember my friends mum using on her ponies when we were children, although I haven’t used this particular recipe myself.
20 ml Citronella
20 ml tea tree
500 ml malt vinegar
500 ml cold strong tea
Pour into a 2 litre bottle, add a squirt of washing up liquid, top up to 2 litres with water & shake.
4) A old friend of mine swears by Avon’s “Skin-so-soft” which she uses as a fly repellent for both herself and her horses.
Hope this gives you a place to start, if anybody has any more natural fly sprays that they’ve had success with please leave a comment with the recipe.
With Love
Fiona & Jasper


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