From West Nile virus to eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis to general irritation, mosquitos can cause a host of issues on your farm. Here are some prevention tips.
Mosquitoes are not just annoying; they pose a health risk for your horses. Mosquitoes spread several neurologic diseases: West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalomyelitis, and western equine encephalomyelitis. It is important to vaccinate your horse to protect against these diseases as well as take steps to manage the mosquito population on your farm. While some mosquitoes do fly in from long distances the majority of mosquitoes will stay in the area where they matured as long as there are water sources and animals to feed upon. Mosquitoes hatch and develop in any body of water without movement. They do well in weedy ponds and any area that collects stagnant water. It only takes a mosquito 4 to 14 days to mature.
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Tip 1: Eliminate stagnant water
You may be rolling your eyes because you’ve heard this tip so many times before, but it is the most important way to prevent mosquitoes on your property. Drain and clean your water tank often. Maintain areas that collect stagnant water by fixing leaks, inverting buckets and troughs not in use, filling in collection areas, drilling drainage holes, and cleaning and changing watering sources for pets. Areas to look out for include soda cans, old tires, flowerpots, birdbaths, clogged gutters, wheelbarrows, tarps that collect puddles, road ruts, potholes, and areas that stay muddy and worked up from horse traffic. It takes very little water for mosquitoes to grow, and hoof prints offer a breeding ground with no predators. Keep any ponds clear of weeds and overgrowth.
Tip 2: Circulate air
Install fans throughout the barn to keep air moving. You may already have this in place for the hot summer months. Moving air prevents mosquitos from circling and landing. Mosquitoes and other flying insects prefer still air and they avoid windy conditions. Unmoving air also traps moisture and allows the scent of manure to attract mosquitoes.
Tip 3: Apply fly sheets and fly spray
Fly sheets, fly masks, and fly masks with ear nets provide a barrier between your horse and mosquitoes. Apply fly spray according to label directions. If your horse is groomed often and fly spray is frequently applied, a shorter-acting fly spray may be enough. If your horse is turned out all the time, a longer-acting fly spray that is resistant to rain will be more effective. Be sure to read the labels and test on a small area of skin to make sure your horse does not have any adverse reactions.
Tip 4: Alter turnout schedule
Mosquitoes are often most active at sunrise and sunset, so try bringing your horse in during peak times if you notice a lot of mosquito activity.
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