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Coastal 101 | Home & Garden

Controlling Flies on Your Property

June 16, 2017

Flies are a terrible nuisance, especially if you own livestock. This year is already shaping up to be exceptionally bad for barn (stable) flies as well as horse flies. To keep these irritating, biting, disease carrying insects from possibly sickening you and your animals, we’ll start with the basics.

Why Flies Bite

Like mosquitoes, biting flies suck blood for nourishment. These flies are attracted by exhaled breath, warmth, perspiration, and dark colors. You can see why horses and most livestock are targets for these voracious insects.


Unsure what kind of fly is bothering your livestock? Barn or stable flies are about a quarter-inch long with gray strips behind their head. They usually bite early morning and late afternoon. These flies lay their eggs in haystacks, grass clippings, and manure. Horse flies can be an inch long or more, laying their eggs in water and moist areas.

Controlling Flies

The best way to keep fly populations down is to kill them off in the larvae stage. While barn flies can travel several miles from their larval habitats to feed, eliminating small piles of decaying hay or straw as well as manure on your property can help. Check your compost pile too. Pesticides that contain Bacillus thuringiensis or methoprene can be used in some cases to inhibit larvae growth.

To really keep those flies away or repel them once they arrive, you have three basic options: sprays, dusts, and bait.

Sprays are designed to either kill on contact or repel for a short period of time. Sprays can last a few weeks or a few days depending on the active ingredient. Coastal carries UltraShield® EX Insecticide & Repellent, Pyranha InsecticideTM, as well as Farnam Endure Fly Spray that also repels gnats, mosquitoes and deer ticks. Also available are premises sprays that can be used on barn walls and other areas where flies land.

Dust works when you apply it directly to your animals and their bedding. Most dust is effective on cattle, horses, swine, and poultry. Our favorite brands include Python Insecticide Dust for its dual-action formula, and Prozap® Insectrin® Dust that comes in shaker packaging for individual applications or in bags you hang from trees, posts, or doorways, allow livestock to treat themselves.

Bait traps work great when used correctly. Everyone’s first instinct is to place them near the affected animals. However, bait traps are designed to attract flies, so all you’ll be doing is inviting more unwanted guests to the party. You want to place bait traps away from your animals and outside stable areas. Give Starbar Golden Malrin Fly Bait a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Coastal Has Your Fly Control

Swing by your nearby Coastal Farm & Ranch and tell us about your fly problems. We’ll guide you in the right direction and share some of our insights and ideas. While you’re shopping, be sure to check out our full line of feed, medications, and other supplies for your livestock, including a full line of horse tack.

Coastal Extra: Barn (Stable) Flies

  • Barn flies can be found near dog kennels as well as horse stables.
  • One of the best ways to control barn flies is by removing their habitat (decaying straw/hay, manure).
  • From egg to adult, barn flies can live for up to 45 days.
  • Flies generally feed in the early morning and late afternoon.
  • A single fly can lay up to 120 eggs.