April showers bring May flowers and flies. That’s how that goes, right? It’s an equestrian’s most dreaded part of the warmer months. But luckily, we have developed many lines of defense to arm ourselves (aka our horses) against the pesky insects. There is now an overwhelming amount of fly sprays on the market, each boasting its own list of benefits. So how do you know which one is best for your horse?

Ingredient Breakdown

Not all fly sprays are created equal. But you probably already know that and that’s why you’re reading this now. Understanding what exactly is in your fly spray will help you better choose which one is right for you. The active ingredients on the bottle will fall into these categories:

  • Pyrethrins are what provide instant relief by killing insects quickly. However, pyrethrins break down easily in sunlight. To avoid this, synergists are often added to boost the effectiveness of a pyrethrin formula.
  • Pyrethroids are synthetic forms of pyrethrins. Pyrethroids last a bit longer since they are not as easily broken down by sunlight.
  • Synergists, as touched on above, are chemical agents used in conjunction with other active ingredients. They enhance both the killing power and the lasting effectiveness of the formula.

When comparing fly sprays, look at the percentages of each category in the formula. Brands with a higher percentage of active ingredients will likely have a higher price tag but will be more effective. Depending on your area, the amount of time exposed to the elements, and your horse’s reaction to formulas and the flies, you can use this information to narrow down your choices.

Oil Based Insecticides

Typically when you reach for fly spray, it will be one of these formulas. Oil-based fly spray boasts long-lasting benefits and can even have coat conditioning and added shine results for your horse. Insecticides contain pyrethrins and pyrethroids to repel and kill insects, making these sprays a tough defense against pests. It is important to note, however, although these sprays claim conditioning benefits, in the long run, they can dry out your horse’s skin. Additionally, they leave behind an oily residue that will collect dirt and dust. But this “residue” is part of what gives the long-lasting benefits. If you see Petroleum Distillate on the ingredients list, you will know that fly spray has an oil base.

Pyranha Aerosol Spray Fly Spray available at FarmVet

Pyranha Aerosol Spray and Wipe N’ Spray are some of the most popular fly sprays in this category. Each contains lanolin as a coat conditioner and repels and kills a wide variety of insects.

Water Based Insecticides

A water-based formula can still be long-lasting, but will not be as resistant against sweat, rain, or even the sun. It is, however, often gentler on horses’ skin. If oil-based sprays cause dry skin or irritation for your horse, these are a good alternative. They will also leave less residue behind, but again this might mean they don’t provide insect protection for as long. A good water-based spray should also contain synergists in the formula to keep them from breaking down in environmental conditions and help them last longer.

Absorbine UltraShield EX Fly Spray available at FarmVet

Absorbine UltraShield EX is one of the best water-based fly sprays you will find. It contains coat conditioners as well as sunscreen to keep your horse protected against weather elements in addition to its top-tier insect protection. This water-based spray does indeed contain synergist ingredients, creating a long-lasting, non-irritating insecticide.

Farnam Repel-X Fly Spray available at FarmVet

Farnam Repel-X is another water-based option at a lower price.

All Natural Alternatives

If you’re looking for a non-toxic, environmentally friendly option that still provides some insect relief for your horse, then this is the category to stick with. These formulas contain natural oils such as citronella, geraniol, eucalyptus, thyme, cedar oil, lemongrass, rosemary oil, and clove oil. Natural fly sprays contain no insecticides. Therefore, they can only repel not kill insects. These formulas will also not be as long-lasting, so be sure to reapply often.

The Infused Equestrian Swat Fly Spray available at FarmVet

The Infused Equestrian swät. has become a favorite all-natural alternative to traditional fly spray. The formula is DEET-free and smells good too. Each essential oil repels different insects, including flies, fleas, mosquitoes, gnats, and more.

Seasonal Fly Formulas

At some point in the season, usually late summer, you may feel like there is a decrease in the effectiveness of your fly spray. This could just be because flies are at their worst, or it may be time to switch up your formula.

Absorbine UltraShield Red Fly Spray available at FarmVet

Ultrashield Red is specially formulated to beat those later-season insects. Utilizing five different active ingredients, UltraShield Red kills a wide array of irritating or dangerous insects. It is a great option to switch to for a strong summer formula, or when you just feel like you need to change it up.

Shop Now

Shop more options for fly spray here. Or, you can shop all our products at FarmVet.com 24/7. You can also call one of our friendly Sales Associates at 1-888-837-3626 or email your order to info@farmvet.com.

Learn More

Looking for alternatives to fly spray this summer? Check out four ways to gear up for fly season here.

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