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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Why Bot Flies Are So Harmful For Horses!

What do bot flies do to horses? 

Bot flies are a frequent occurrence with horses.  Every year bot flies lays between 150 and 1000 eggs onto the horse.  The eggs are attached by the fly to the horse's legs, neck, face and belly and a small and yellow in colour.  You will see them easily on dark horses but they might go undetected.  The larvae then will either make their way to the horse's mouth or the horse will lick the eggs and ingest them.   
The eggs will stay in the mouth for up to four weeks before moving to the digestive system.  They will stay in the horse's system for 8-10 weeks and attach to the gastric lining by their mouth.  After the 8-10 weeks that are mature enough to pass through the horse and burrow into the ground where they stay until they are adults.   
This takes place once a year usually and will start in the spring and end in the autumn in most cases.  This becomes a normal occurrence from horse owners but it can be damaging to your horse's health!  

What are the symptoms? 

 There are three main types of bot flies which are as follows -  
  • Intestinalis  
  • Haemorrhoidalis (black eggs) 
  • Nasalis 
There are a few symptoms that the horse may show if they have a bot fly infestation but they may not show any signs at all.  It is therefore important for the horse owner to look for eggs, use a bot fly comb and use lots of fly spray to control bot flies.   
  • Patches of eggs on the legs, belly, face and neck  
  • Horse licking and biting the patches where eggs are found 
  • Rubbing or itching  
  • Ulcers around the mouth or inside the mouth 
  • Colic  
  • Damage to gums or teeth  
  • Sinus infections  
  • Stomach or digestive system problems  
  • Weight loss 
  • Decrease in coat and appetite 
  • Starting new vices such are cribbing  

How to treat bot flies in horses  

Treatment for bot flies is up to the horse owner.  If you notice bot fly eggs on your horse there are some steps you should take -  
  1. Deworm your horse  
  1. Buy a bot knife and use it to scrape the eggs off of the horse's body.  This should be done every day even in seasons when eggs are not likely to be laid just to be sure.  
  1. Buy and use fly spray and gel.  Coat the usual bot fly areas with a thick coat of fly gel to offer the most protection then use fly spray on the rest on the body.   
This should be done with every horse on your property to cut down the effects of bot flies as much as possible.  Some deworming products can be used every season which is great to kill botfly larvae if they have made it to the horse's stomach.   
It is also a great idea to poo pick every day so if the larvae have not yet left the horses faeces, you can remove them to avoid them burrowing into the ground.  This stops another cycle for happening for each bot fly that does not make into the ground.  Also, insure stables are cleaned out often and the muck heap on the yard should be located far from where the horses live.   
These steps can cut down the chances for bot flies to start are a new cycle and help to increase your horse's health.   


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