Do It Yourself – Natural & Safe Equine Fly Spray
The fly sprays available through our favorite equine supply companies contain chemical substances meant to kill and repel insects that are constantly being reformulated to keep ahead of the resistance these buzzing buggers keep building. With increased potency of these synthetic components toxic chemical reactions occur in ourselves and our animals.
Did you know that most essential oils, by their very nature, have an insect repelling action?
‘Numerous studies are being conducted around the repellent and insecticidal properties of various essential oils. After all, the plant has developed its own means to deal with these predators. However, there are some that are more effective, and some excel at repelling, while others go straight for the kill. These studies found that while the essential oils were in deed quite effective at deterring landing/feeding on the host and/or killed the insect that came into contact with the oil, they tended to need reapplication (approximately every 2 to 4 hours)1, t. I’m completely okay with having to spray a really nice-smelling natural concoction more often if it means avoiding contact with nasty chemicals for both me and my horse.’
The list below covers many of the most popular and effective of the insect repellent essential oils and will give you the most well-rounded selection to choose from. You can then make your own “custom” insect spray based on your needs. Feel free to experiment with various combinations and concentrations based on your geographic location and the pests you’re dealing with PLUS what works well for you and your horse. Every individual is going to find different oils more or less effective and appealing. If one particular oil fails to get the job done, all is not lost! You may just need a different blend for the specific insect population in your area.
Single Essential Oils With Insect Repelling Properties
Citronella – flies, lice, mosquitoes
Eucalyptus – flies, fleas (radiata), lice (globulus), mosquitoes, gnats/midges (globulus)
Geranium – flies, ticks, lice, mosquitoes, gnats/midges
Idaho Blue Tansy – flies, ants, mosquitoes
Lavender – flies, lice, chiggers, mosquitoes
Lemongrass – flies, fleas, chiggers, mosquitoes
Melaleuca alternifolia – flies, fleas, ticks, lice, chiggers
Peppermint – spiders, flies, ticks, ants, mosquitoes, gnats/midges
Pine – fleas, lice
Essential Oil Blends With Insect Repelling Properties
Many of the individual essential oils that make up these blends are represented above. You may find it more convenient to use the blend and then add one or more individual oils to enhance where needed.
Longevity (contains Thyme, Orange, Clove and Frankincense) – when taken orally, may deter fleas
Purification (contains Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca alternifolia, Lavandin, Myrtle) – flies, fleas, ticks, chiggers, ants, mosquitoes
Thieves (contains Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus radiata, Rosemary) – flies, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes
A great fly spray starter combination is:
Purification (30 drops) + Melaleuca alternifolia (20 drops) + Peppermint (20 drops) + Citronella (20 drops) + 2 to 3 ounces of V-6 Vegetable Oil Complex + water in an 8 ounce spray bottle.
Add other singles to the mix like Blue Tansy, Lemongrass or Eucalyptus globulus when the flies or other pests are exceptionally bad.
Re-apply every couple of hours during peak fly season.
The higher the ratio of carrier oil, the more “staying power” the mixture will have – with that said, beware of build up over time. Witch Hazel can also be substituted in the place of carrier oil to eliminate the problem of oil buildup.
If you’ve already been playing around with making your OWN natural fly spray, do share!! Always love to hear what works for people!
1. Behavioural and electroantennogram responses of the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans L.) to plant essential oils and their mixtures with attractants – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23564737. Accessed on 1/23/14.