It’s that time of year when we all crave a little freedom from flies. These tiny, winged critters are bothersome and difficult to beat during the summer months. Sometimes it feels as though the flies are winning the battle; we apply fly spray to find our horses are smothered within 10 minutes if us turning our backs. We know there are plenty of synthetic and chemical based fly spray ingredients but are they really worth the risk?

Chemical based products are rarely safe to apply as liberally and frequently as we may need, and if the directions tell us to ‘wear gloves’ when we apply, are they really the kind of products we want our horses ingesting as they groom themselves or each other? There are natural remedies, lotions and potions aplenty, so let’s take a look at the fly spray ingredients we can rely on to make a difference this summer without causing damage to our horses or the environment.

A Core Fly Spray Ingredient: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is renowned for its beneficial properties when added to feed and drinking water, but did you know it also make the perfect base for almost any fly spray?

Apple cider vinegar is one of the best fly spray ingredients because it is potent – its pungent odour is one which flies detest. When mixed with water, it stretches further making it the perfect fly spray ingredient for you to use as a base all summer long. Why not consider the many helpful properties of essential oils and choose one or two to add to your fly spray base?

Here is a list of oils which will help to deter flies making them perfect fly spray ingredients to add to your base:
– Bergamot
– Cedarwood
– Eucalyptus
– Lemongrass
– Lavender
– Orange
– Peppermint
– Rosemary
– Sage

The citrus, floral and earthy scents of Bergamot, Lemongrass, Lavender, Orange and Rosemary all help to either invigorate or relax, Whereas, Tea Tree, Aloe Vera and Eucalyptus have been renowned for years for their soothing and healing properties. Even amongst modern day concoctions, these three still hold their own when it comes to antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, ideal for helping to heal skin irritations or infections as well as being brilliant at helping to banish those flies.

How to make your own fly repellent:

Firstly, find a spray bottle. These can be picked up easily from a garden centre; spray bottles are often sold in the plant care section at supermarkets or garden centres and come with adjustable nozzles. Or, if you are looking online, you can find a whole range of sizes by simply typing in ‘hairdresser’s spray bottle’.

Next, gather your natural fly spray ingredients. And finally make your perfect fly fighting concoction, full to the brim of natural fly spray ingredients.

Here is a sample recipe to get you started
1 cup water
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
10-15 drops of horse-safe essential oils (Lavender, Eucalyptus, Citronella, Lemongrass, or Peppermint)
1 tablespoon Aloe Vera gel
1 teaspoon Vegetable Gycerin (optional)
Fresh or dried herbs (optional)

1. In your spray bottle, combine the water and Apple Cider Vinegar.

2. Add the essential oils of your choice. Always start with a smaller amount and adjust according to your horse’s tolerance and preference.

3. Add the Aloe Vera gel and Vegetable Glycerin, if you choose to use these, and shake well to mix. Using either or both of these will help your fly spray stick to the horse’s coat a little better.

TIP: If using fresh or dried herbs, you can either infuse them in the water before mixing or add a few drops of their essential oils to enhance the repellent’s potency.

4. Shake the bottle well before each use to ensure all fly spray ingredients are well combined.

5. Be sure to patch test on a small area first to ensure your horse is comfortable with the spray and not sensitive to any of your chosen fly spray ingredients before applying all over.

If you have any concerns at all, it is always best to consult your vet.

You can either spray the mixture directly onto your horse’s coat or apply it using a sponge. Either way, avoid applying liberally to sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, and mouth.

As all you fly spray ingredients are natural, you can reapply as needed, especially after exercise when your horse is likely to sweat!

eqwax horse fly repellent
eqwax lemongrass fly repellent

Try Our Natural Fly Spays

If all of this feels like a bit of a faff, you could always give our EqWax Lemongrass Fly Repellent a go. Using only natural ingredients and soy wax as a base, the lemongrass zing will repel flies and the wax will help your repellent stay put for longer. You simply brush or sponge onto your horse’s coat. We stock EqWax with Eucalyptus and Lavender too; However, if you would prefer a spray, perhaps give our Fly Off Repellent a go.

Combining the superpowers of Bog Myrtle to repel midges with Cedarwood, Lemon Eucalyptus and Peppermint oils, this combination makes Fly Off an excellent formula for daily use. It comes in a range of sizes and is a water based, easy-to-apply spray which also contains the healing properties of Aloe Vera.

A Word Of Warning…

A word of warning: During fly season we often despair and turn to desperate measures to banish the flies when they are at their most troublesome. There are a couple of well-known products which are likely to come up when searching the web for a solution and, although they do have fly repelling qualities, horses have been known to be reactive or have adverse reactions.

Easy to acquire products such as Citronella and Dettol have both become popular and problematic and we would advise you to stick to more gentle fly spray ingredients when it comes to horse care.

While citronella is a prevalent ingredient in many commercial fly sprays, its use comes with a word of caution. Some individuals might experience skin irritation, and citronella’s stimulating nature could exacerbate anxiety in horses. For a safer alternative, consider exploring products like those from EqWax, which provide effective fly protection without the potential downsides of citronella.

More recently, one name that surfaces often in discussions on social media about fly control is Dettol. However, it’s important to be informed about its composition. Dettol contains Chloroxylenol, a chemical that is toxic to cats if ingested through grooming.

While research on its effects on horses is limited, given the communal grooming behaviours frequently exhibited by horses, the risks associated with using such products remain considerable.

Banish Flies From Your Home

Flies are not only a problem around horses, they are equally annoying in the house. Here is our top-tip for banishing flies in and around the house.

This charming yet powerful anti-fly remedy is a simple lemon clove mixture. All you need to do is cut a lemon in half and stud it with cloves. This simple yet elegant solution emits a scent that repels flies, making it an excellent addition in the kitchen or to your outdoor seating areas and windowsills. When enjoying a meal outdoors, the lemon-clove combination can be your culinary ally against bothersome flies. Stepping outdoors, you can let nature become your comrade in the battle against flies. Herbs like basil, mint, and rosemary, along with fragrant plants like lavender, are all natural fly repellents. Placing these plants near seating areas not only adds a touch of greenery but also forms an invisible barrier that keeps flies at bay.

In your quest to repel flies and enjoy a harmonious environment, the power of fly spray ingredients cannot be underestimated. From the versatile apple cider vinegar base to the aromatic embrace of essential oils, the soothing touch of aloe vera, and the protective presence of natural plants, each element plays a pivotal role. As you venture into the realm of fly control, remember to choose ingredients that align with your values, prioritise safety, and honour the intricate ecosystems we share as we enjoy our horses and nature itself.