By far, my favorite commercial fly spray is the Eqyss' natural Marigold. It works quite well, smells fantastic! and it's all natural - safe for your horse - and you! (I spray it on my hat and on my bare legs and biting flies and gnats buzz off!) However, at around $20 bucks a bottle, (that I can go through in a week or so), unless I hit the million dollar lotto or Oprah decides to share the wealth with me, I just cannot justify spending that much cash on pesky varmints like flies and gnats. There must be a better way!
I'm all in favor of homemade fly sprays. They can work just as efficiently (or close) but the best part is they can be much safer than most commercial fly sprays (if you use common sense) and as a big added bonus: they can save you a lot of money!
There are dozens of recipes for homemade fly spray on the internet. Some are good, some not so good and some are just downright toxic and dangerous. I've seen and heard of unbelievable things people put on their horses. NEVER use things like Raid Insect Killer on your horse or harsh detergents like Pine Sol. These are just not safe. While they may not hurt your horse immediately, many are poison to their bodies and will have negative effects on your horses health. Some can cause cancer or other diseases and can affect internal organs, which can shorten the lifespan of your horse. Many affect the neurological system - in simpler terms, they can damage your horses brain and/or thought processes. They are just not worth the risk.
When making homemade fly spray, if the recipe calls for citronella oil, you MUST BUY 100% PURE citronella oil. Check health food stores or online. DO NOT use the citronella oil you find at department stores or home improvement stores that goes into bug lanterns, tiki torches and other products for outdoor pest control! It's petroleum based and it's a fuel meant for burning. Not only is it flammable and will absorb the heat from the sun, which will burn your horses skin, it is toxic to the body.
Please read labels on the ingredients you're going to use when making homemade recipes. If the label on any product has warnings about being poisonous to humans and animals, then please - don't put it in your fly spray or on your horses' skin! Whatever goes on the skin goes directly into the bloodstream. Skin is the biggest organ of the body and the skin absorbs whatever is on it. (This is why nicotine patches and birth control patches work) Toxic chemicals may not kill them or make them sick immediately but that doesn't mean its not hurting them, (or you when you breathe it in or get it on your skin)
Here is a basic recipe for a safe, homemade fly spray that I'm currently using (and you can use it on yourself, too!) I've played around with the measurements on this one and what I've listed below WORKS!! I been using this recipe for a couple of months and I just recently noticed another exciting benefit: I haven't seen one single bot egg on my horses' body this summer! Not one! I think that's amazing!
In a clean, empty spray bottle, (mine is 28oz.) mix together:
- 4 ounces of Avons' Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil
- 1 cup of vinegar (either white or apple cider vinegar will work)
- 30 -40 drops of 100% pure citronella essential oil
- Fill the bottle the rest of the way up with water
Shake well each time before applying it to your horse and since the oil will quickly separate, it's best to shake periodically while using it, to keep it well mixed.
I spray this on the horses twice a day - morning and evening and it works!
If it's not strong enough, slightly increase the Skin So Soft and add 10 more drops of citronella.
Flies, gnats and ticks hate the smell of the Skin So Soft. We know they hate citronella and apparently, the vinegar is not their favorite smell either (Vinegar also kills germs and bacteria and can help prevent and treat many bacterial skin conditions such as rain rot)
This fly spray is better and safer than the store bought varieties that have all of the "danger" and "poisonous" warnings and cheaper, too!
If you'd like to see a larger assortment of recipes to choose from, check out this website: http://www.moniteausaddleclub.com/flyspray_recipes.htm