How to Get Rid of Horse Flies in Your Yard

DIY and commercial, all-natural and chemical ways of preventing and getting rid of horse flies.
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: August 31, 2023
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Horse flies are a very common problem for livestock and homeowners. Due to their scissor-like teeth, horseflies are infamous for their excruciatingly painful bites. Female horse flies are similar to female mosquitoes; they are interested in feeding on your blood. Male horse flies typically adhere to nectar. 

A horsefly bite will cause a loud “ouch!” as opposed to a mosquito bite, which may not be detected until it starts to itch. Such nasty problems in your field need to be urgently dealt with. In this article, we will look at how to get rid of horseflies, their distinguishable features, and prevention methods. This task could be quite challenging, but with our guide, it would be a walk in the park.

Identifying Horse Flies 

Although they are one of the biggest flies in the world, they can be challenging to deal with but are often very simple to detect. 

The US is home to approximately 160 species of horseflies, but despite their complete differences, most people still mistake them for huge houseflies. Horseflies are larger and can even reach a length of 1 inch (2.5 cm). The biggest difference, though, is in the way they act.

Horseflies hunt warm-blooded creatures, in particular, biting and sucking their blood. Houseflies, on the other hand, rarely sting people.

Remember that while male horseflies consume nectar and play an important role in pollinating many plant species, female horseflies suckle blood to reproduce.

Horseflies love the outdoors, especially in riverine areas. Therefore they are rarely found inside the home. For reproduction, they select moist soil near lakes and rivers.

To find out whether you have horse flies, look for these traits:

  • Size: Horse flies have exceptionally huge, sturdy bodies between 3/4 and 1-1/4 inches long.
  • Color: They come in several colors, including dark brown, grey, and black.
  • Eyes: They have big, either green or black eyes.
  • Antennae: The antennae of all horse flies are shorter than the head.

Inspection of Horse Flies

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies in Your Yard
Horses are typically the only animals affected by these attacks. This is because swamp fever, also known as equine infectious anemia, is spread by horseflies.

Horseflies rarely bite the head and neck regions of their host. Numerous mammals of practically all sizes, livestock, people, pets, and birds are among the hosts of horse flies. When a female horse fly is trying to feed, if she is interrupted, she will either resume feeding or move on to another host, where she will take a full blood meal.

There’s a good chance that you’ve experienced multiple horsefly bites. The bites are easily detected, and the symptoms are very conspicuous. 

If bitten, the following symptoms and bite reactions may occur after being bitten:

  • The area around the bite has localized edema and is red and itchy.
  • If the bite is not kept clean and disinfected, persistent itching and scratching of the wounds could result in secondary bacterial infections.
  • Horse flies spray saliva containing anticoagulants during blood feeding. Therefore individuals who are extremely allergic to the anticoagulant chemicals may experience some serious reactions. A body rash, wheezing, eye, and lip swelling, lightheadedness, or weakness are among the symptoms that can occur.

Horsefly bites often do not cause harm to humans except for the brief discomfort they produce.

However, horse flies can spread this potentially fatal illness when they bite an equestrian animal. A horse that is afflicted may become unwell overall and develop a fever. While some horses may not show signs, they might still spread the illness to other equines.

Getting Rid of Horse Flies 

Horseflies are a constant battle to get rid of, especially if you live near water or keep cattle in your home. The fresh ones always come back, no matter how often you kill and chase them away.

The only thing you can do is eradicate these ferocious insects from your property as soon as you discover them. There is no need to be concerned about the impact on the environment because of the increasing number of horse flies.

Although horse flies are notoriously challenging to eradicate, there are a few methods you can try, including physical traps, pesticides, and home cures.

The following recommendations will help you get rid of horse flies from your yard, pool, house, cattle, etc.

Use Insecticides for Animals Protection

In theory, horseflies can be controlled with insecticides. Since they are primarily found near rivers and streams, treating these insects in the larva stage is impossible because doing so would likely pollute the water. The only thing you can do is administer synergized pyrethrin, a natural insecticide, to your animals every day. Insect activity will be greatly decreased as a result.

Use Repellent

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies in Your Yard

  • Commercial Repellents

Spray a sizable area to shield numerous properties. Spraying a large region won’t take much time or work. The use of commercial repellants like Farnam SimpliFly and Pyranha Zero-Bite All Natural Fly Spray has been proven by experts to be very effective in getting rid of deer flies, horseflies, horn, house, and cluster flies.

To disperse the chemicals, use an airplane, loggers, hydraulic sprayers, or mist blowers. The chemical droplets will reach the fly habitat and kill the insects there.

  • Homemade Repellents

Horseflies detest particular scents. This knowledge can guide you in creating DIY repellents to get rid of these pests. These scents include white vinegar, light mineral oil, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, citronella oil, lavender oil, lemon juice, etc.

Set up fly traps to catch horse flies 

Purchase a commercial mechanical trap: 

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies in Your Yard

Areas with plenty of cattle, people, or significant flora are most suited for using nontoxic physical traps. Here are a few possibilities for physical traps that work well against horse flies:

  • Light traps (lamps): The light of these traps was specifically chosen to draw unwelcomed insects. Insects that land on the lights are either immediately zapped and killed or caught on glue cards.
  • Flypaper: This paper has an adhesive that draws house flies and horse flies while trapping them.
  • Fly-be-Gone Trap: Fly food is kept in this trap as bait in a plastic bag. The funnel is where the fly must enter the bag. The fly cannot leave the bag once it is inside.
  • Horse Pal fly zapper: These big traps are equipped with a target to draw primarily visual hunters like horse and deer flies. The flies are caught in the metal component of the trap when they approach the target and realize it is not prey. They die off from the sun’s heat on the trap.

 Set up Homemade Mechanical Traps

  • Suspend the stool or chair from the shed ceiling or another location where horse flies cluster.
  • Glue a rope into a medium-sized, dark-colored ball. So that the ball hangs down, fasten the rope to the seat or footrest of the chair or stool.
  • Incorporate Flypaper into the seat or stool’s base. Start the ball swinging every several hours. Horse flies will be drawn to the ball because they are drawn to dark colors and motion.
  • They will fly over and determine it is not fascinating, at which point they will go upward and become entangled in the paper.

Use Bug Zappers 

How to Get Rid of Horse Flies in Your Yard

A bug zapper, an electrical discharge insect control system, electric insect killer, or (insect) electrocution trap, is a tool used to draw and kill flying insects drawn to light. Insects are drawn to an electrical grid by a light source, where they touch two wires with a high voltage between them and are electrocuted.

Horseflies are drawn to the UV light in these traps, using electrical metal grids to destroy them. You may want to check our compilation of the best bug zappers to fight horse flies.

Preventing Horse Flies

  • Remove trash: Like other fly species, horse flies target trash to search for food. The lids of outdoor trash cans should fit tightly. You might notice fewer flies in your yard if you can put your trash in your garage.
  • Keep your pet quarters tidy: Clean up dung, used bedding, and feed that has leaked. If necessary, you might apply insecticide to your dung pile to prevent the development of larvae.
  • Remove any standing water close to your livestock: Remove buckets of standing water and install effective drainage systems. When horse fly season is at its worst, cover your pool or pond.
  • Cut down weeds and tall grasses: Tall grasses and weeds can provide horse flies with an ideal breeding environment that is cool, damp, and moist. Insects may seek refuge in shady vegetation during the day’s hottest hours, and maintain frequent weeding and grass trimming, especially near ditches, to prevent this.


Do deer flies bite? 

Two sets of the female deer fly’s mouthparts, or “blades,” are used in biting to sever the victim’s skin. Blood starts to flow after the skin is cut, and the female utilizes various parts of her lips to scoop up and consume the exposed blood. Deer flies prey on many species, including people, pets, animals, and deer. 

A host’s head or neck are frequently the insects’ primary targets. Horseflies, in contrast, feed in a variety of places but frequently go for the legs. In contrast, deer flies attack moving prey and frequently choose higher body parts like the head or neck.

What to do if you get bit by a deer fly?

Deer fly bites hurt and leave behind red lumps or welts. They spread rabbit fever, a rare bacterial disease (tularemia). Skin ulcers, fever, and headache are among the signs. Antibiotics can effectively treat tularemia but can also be lethal if left untreated.

Cleaning the area with soap and water will help to heal deer fly bites. To alleviate pain, you might apply ice to the area. You can also take antihistamines for allergies, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), to ease itching and lower the risk of secondary infection.

Final words 

Horse flies are common in northern America and difficult to get rid of. They do pose serious problems to humans aside from their painful bites. They pose a threat to horses too. Hence, you must know how to get rid of horse flies in your house.

Destroying pests’ nests, hives, and breeding grounds is usually the most effective remedy. Horseflies can be a nuisance because their breeding grounds are usually not far from your home. Additionally, they often procreate in protected regions, where it is unlawful to try to eradicate them.

A better prevention option is to clothe and protect exposed body parts to reduce the likelihood of horse fly bites.

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