5 Different Types of Fly Bites on Horses – And How to Treat Them

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Fly Bites on Horses

Fly bites on Horses

Annoying, pestering flies are everywhere. They are so nosy and want to be in your personal space. It is stressful and not to mention the health hazards it can represent. So does your horse feel the same way? Of course, but since they can’t talk, it is challenging to let you know that these tiny flying insects are all up on their business. 

Take a break and learn about fly bites on horses and horsefly bites. Are they the same thing? Let’s find out while also pointing out types, causes, and treatments. 

What’s the deal with flies?

Well, did you know there are about 120,000 species throughout the world? That’s a lot. Many bite animals and humans for their blood, while others may transmit diseases through bites. 

Horsefly bites and fly bites on horses are not the same. Horseflies are considered true flies and members of the Insect Order Diptera (Deer flies are from this branch too). Meaning they are a type of fly. These can be mean creatures, especially the female horsefly, persistent on sucking sufficient blood as her meal. 

According to victims, a bite can be a real pain. These may heal after a few days with no intervention, but keep an eye out for infections to be safe! 

Flies are into warm weather, which is why during Spring and Summer, you see them boasting life. Wear insect repellent and avoid dark clothes to stir clear from those horseflies! 

Can a horsefly harm my horse? 

Yes, these pests enjoy daytime and can transfer blood-borne diseases from one animal to another. Infected horses may suffer from swamp fever (the equine infectious anemia virus). 

Horses that contract swamp fever often have a high fever and may also experience diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle weakness.

Types of fly bites on horses 

Fly bites on horses can cause a spectrum of symptoms, depending on the fly that attacked.

  1. Horn fly bites are the most common and cause an itchy, red bump on the horse's skin.
  2. Face fly bites can cause lesions around the horse's eyes and may lead to blindness if not treated.
  3. Stable fly bites provoke large open sores on the horse's skin, swelling, and inflammation.
  4. Bot fly bites are less common but are dangerous. They can cause extensive damage to the horse's flesh and may even be life-threatening.
  5. Deer fly bites are also rare but are painful and cause significant swelling.

How to treat fly bites on horses

Horn fly bites

 Apply a cold compress to the area to help reduce swelling and itching.

Face fly bites

Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the lesion to help it heal.

Stable fly bites

Clean the wound with soap and water, then apply a topical antibiotic ointment.

Bot fly bites

Apply a topical antibiotic ointment and try to remove the botfly larva from the wound.

Deer fly bites

Apply a topical insect repellent to the area.

How to prevent fly bites on horses 

There are a few things horse owners can do to help prevent fly bite damage on their horses.

Fly Bites on Horses
  • Keep horses stabled or in a fly-free area whenever available. 
  • Use fly screens or masks to keep flies from biting the horse's face.
  • Apply fly repellents to the horse's skin to discourage fly bites.
  • Make sure their living environment is as clean and sanitary as possible.


There is a vast spectrum of flies. The world is their kingdom, and we must live among them. Some are annoying, while others take it to the next level and become life-threatening. 

Maintaining the safety and health of your horse is vital. Prevent and strengthen the skin and coat with Aniviva

Our AniViva® Animal Serum has no harsh chemicals. Instead, it blends a concentration of cationic magnesium, zinc, copper, hydrogen, sulfur, ammine, and essential oils that helps to repel flies and other insects. It's safe for horses and it comes in a convenient spray bottle. 

Fly Bites on Horses

Learn more about us and our products. Our company focuses on skin health, with high-quality ingredients that give thriving results. 

Consult your veterinarian if you believe your horse has an infection from fly bites.

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