View Full Version : Flies and itching...must be spring!
7th May 2002, 03:04 PM
:rolleyes: Now it is getting warmer and the midges and flies are out in force, there are a couple of things you can try on your horses to ease the discomfort of itching and the constant nuisance of flies.
Many people make their own fly repellents and these can be very effective and safe BUT only if you use the right combination of oils in the correct and safe dose and mix it properly. Tea Tree, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon grass, citronella, Kanuka etc in a Neem oil base with water are all really good but if you don't add washing up liquid or mild soap to the mix then you run the risk of applying almost neat oil to your horses skin, however well you shake the bottle as oil and water just don't mix. Unfortunatly, soap and detergent have a habit of building up in the coat and making it either irritated or scurfy and so the best thing to use is a "surfactant" which emulsifies the oils so they disperse through the water and all you need to do is give it a shake for good measure just before applying! This is avaiable from specialist essential oils and aromatherapy suppliers.
For those of you with horses who are prone to the odd itchy session in summer without actually suffering from full blown sweet itch, or for horse fly bites on horses and people, lavender gel and chamomile cream are really excelent for soothing the pain and calming the irritation.Well worth keeping some in the grooming kit. I react to horsfly bites and they itch terribly for anything up to a week. I discovered that Yarrow essential oil, dropped onto the bite asap after it happens stops it in it's tracks and now I don't go out without it in summer when the horseflies are about. Unfortunatly,I forgot it when I went on holiday last year and itched my way round Cornwall !!! LOL
8th May 2002, 11:14 AM
Just a quick question. Is this economic?
I know that commercial fly spray are very expensive, but the prices that I see for essential oils are very high.
What sort of quantities, etc do you use?
By the way, surfactants are the main ingredient of most detergents. It may be possible to use a small quantity of something like non-bio washing liquid (with the oil before adding the water), but I've never tried this so don't blame me if it doesn't work! ;)
8th May 2002, 12:34 PM
Well it depends on the degree of problem you have and if you have more than one horse but in general yes it is a lot cheaper spread over the course of a season.
If you take one of the recipies in Caroline Ingrahams book "Aromatherpy for horses" which is basically 65-70 drops of oils in total in 200ml of water or a mixture of water and vinegar and add a teaspoon of surfactant such as Polysorbate 20 which is derived from lauric acid, or a dash of baby shampoo etc, the the total cost would work out at approx £1 for the oils and about 20p for the vinegar, approx 12p for 5ml of dispersant then even if you had to go out and buy a £1.99 plant spray bottle from the garden centre you are still going to save quite a lot of money in the long run.
Obviously you would have to buy whole bottles of oils at the begining of the season but a 10ml bottle of lavender oil at £2.65 would last you for 20 mixes as 10ml = 200 drops and you only need 10 drops in the mixture so compared to the price of natural repellent formulas the savings are considerable. Most essential oils will last for 2-5 years if kept in the cool and dark although citrus oils such as lemon and grapefruit tend to "go off" after approx. 6 months and it it best not to save repellents from one year to the next as they will have been stored in less than ideal conditons eg, in direct sunlight on the floor outside the stable if I'm anything to go by :0) and so they will lose their power pretty quickly.This is another reason to make your own as you can make up a little at a time and it won't go to waste.
The other way to make savings is for several people to get together and buy 100ml of each oil at a time and divide the cost between them and then the price really comes down.Worth thinking about if you are on a tight budget and/or don't want to use chemical based repellents.If anyone would like to know the "secret recipie" I use on my horses and me then please feel free to get in touch:rolleyes:
9th May 2002, 12:53 PM
I used to have a receipe which consisted of citronella oil, cold tea, washing up liquid and other ingredients I just can't remember. It seemed to work and our yard is plagued with flies at the moment. DOes anyone have an exact receipe of what will work as I need to make some as soon as possible!
9th May 2002, 03:54 PM
Well, this is my recipie...
20 drops each of Tea-Tree, Lavender and Eucalyptus oil. 10 of Geranium, and 5 of Lemon grass. 25ml of Neem oil (a base oil that is insecticidal and helpful for skin conditions) 5ml surfactant. Top up to 100ml with water and shake well.This makes the concentrate. Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed bottle.
As required, add 25-30ml to 200ml water and shake well before applying.You can use 2/3 water and 1/3 vinegar if you wish. Let me know if you need help sourcing any of the ingredients.
10th May 2002, 03:15 PM
that sounds as if it could be quite expensive, and she has quite sensitive skin, sounds really oily. I take it if I mix it with 2/3rds water it would be OK though. Where do I buy the ingredients from?
10th May 2002, 03:39 PM
Has anyone tried things like "spot on"? I know it's expensive but if it worked it would be worth it. Anybody have any experience with it, pro or con?
Trudy van Rijn
10th May 2002, 04:41 PM
The recipe I use is:
15 mnl.citronella oil
2 tablespoons meth.spirit
1 '' washing up liquid
4 '' vinegar
1 mug of cold, strong tea.
Top up to 2 litres with water.
It seems to work. Not 100% but even the most expensive repellents don't.
12th May 2002, 10:58 PM
Thanks folks. I might give it a try later on. I tend to keep most of those oils anyway.
13th May 2002, 12:44 PM
trudy - thats the receipe I had I think. I'll make some tonight, I just wasn't sure of the quantities.
14th May 2002, 07:23 AM
I'm excited, I found Neem a while ago and used it to bathe my cat that has bad flea allergies (even though we've used stuff from the vets for the last 6 months and have been given the all clear flea wise she still had scabbs and dry skin). It worked like a charm and I've only had to use it once!
Anyway, I got to thinking and have been adding it to my fly spray for Bebe. It's not neat neem oil though, it's Bug away from Natural Animal Health so I have only been using a very small amount in case of a reaction.
Do you stock Neem now? Any news on the 100ml bottles of oils for fly spray? I'm alright for the moment but have been roped into making fly spray for people on the yard so may need larger bottles of oils soon.
14th May 2002, 08:05 AM
Hi Amanda !
Yes, I have Neem oil...100ml up to 1 litre !!! I've been reading up on it since I was introduced to it and it is amazing. It comes from an Indian tree and is used for skin conditions, they pour it on the back of the animal for ticks, lice, flies, they even give it orally for internal parasites (don't try this though!!)It has an "unusual" smell, rather like baked beans that have caught on the bottom of the saucepan but it grows on you....really!
In India, they add a couple of drops of Sandalwood oil to sweeten the scent. Anyway, enough of the essnetial oils lecture.
I also have Tea Tree, Lavender, citronella and Eucalyptus in bulk for fly repellents and can add other oils in larger quantities to your spec. eg geranium.
If you are making up bulk ammounts then it will work out at probably under £1 per 250ml bottle which is a pretty good saving!" I'll e-mail you some prices as I don't want to offend the Moderator by using the site to advertise my special offers LOL but as a guide Tea Tree in 100ml quantities is the equivalent of 80p per 10ml as opposed to £2.90.
15th May 2002, 07:48 AM
Thanks Pauhla, looking forward to your email!
17th May 2002, 08:15 AM
Made some fly spray up at home today and used on Charlie and Zak, they were both happy to have it sprayed on, no citronella used as they both hate the smell.
We'll see how things go and how effective it is over the weekend.
20th May 2002, 01:32 PM
Yep it works, and what's more important the horses are quite happy to stand and be sprayed with this, whilst at liberty, something that we could just not do with the commercial citronella sprays as both boys hated the smell.
They really like the mix of lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus and dont even mind being sprayed around their heads and tummies.
So thank you very much for the idea and we will no longer have to buy those vastly exspensive commercial chemical based products.
20th May 2002, 01:50 PM
Hi Caroline. Good news! It's always worth trying different oils as some horses undoubtedly don't like some scents just as we don't.
31st May 2002, 09:00 PM
I feed garlic to my horses, and myself, it seems to work against flies.
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