Barn Fly Remedies

| Modified on Sep 21, 2022
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Do you have a barn fly problem? Or are flies of any kind troubling your pets? There are natural steps you can take to persuade flies to find their meals elsewhere, without filling your animal's environment with harsh pesticides.

Simple steps can be taken around the barn, the dog house, or wherever your animals happen to be afflicted with flying pests. Sometimes, a small change or addition to your animal's diet can dissuade flies from pestering your animals. Certain essential oils or aromatic foods such as garlic or cayenne can be natural pest deterrents, whether eaten or applied topically (usually, in a dilution--be careful with applications directly on your animal's skin or fur).

Natural Remedies: Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is so far the most popular home remedy to shoo away barn flies, and it has a long tradition of such use. ACV can be used in a sprayer or can be added to your animals' water or feed. If spraying directly on your pet or animals, dilute 1:1 with water.

Apple Cider Vinegar

7 User Reviews
5 star (7) 

Posted by C Alesi (Lake Mathews, California USA) on 11/21/2008

I have been putting a cup of ACV in my horses water barrel since last spring. I noticed my gelding was drinking alot more water with ACV. A few weeks of ACV, my gelding peed out a calcium deposits the size of a walnut. It also helped with the biting flies. One of our mares would get terrible fly bites, but this year she was scab free.

Replied by Babytodd
(Cerro Gordo, Nc)

could you please tell me the ratio of Apple Cider Vinegar and water for your horses?

Replied by Deb
(Uintah, Utah)

How much ACV should I add to my 30 gal watering barrel for my horses?

Replied by Lynn
(Pearlington, Ms)

I don't know the ratio of ACV to water but I do remember reading that you start off with less and then gradually add more to get the horse used to it.

Replied by Swhit
(Los Angeles, Ca)

ACV also makes their coats/feathers shine. I put a few capfuls in my chooks water (5 gal container) and it does help keep the flies away from the chicken poop.

Replied by Swhit
(Los Angeles, Ca)

Forgot to mention I sprinkle Food Grade Diatomacious Earth in their coop and run also and that also helps besides keep insects/flies away. When I clean out the coop I always use full strength ACV and let it air dry before putting down new bedding.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Tangie (Jefferson City, MO) on 11/13/2008

I have a Chow German Shepard mix & a Lab both are outside dogs. In the summer months we had a problem with the biting flies, which causes bad sores on my dogs. I used (ACV/Water)1 cup of apple cidar vinear to 2 cups water sprayed my dogs every other day and it helped a lot. Don't spray on open wounds.

I also have 2 small dogs and a cat inside the home that have fleas I use 70-90% full strength rubbing alcohol put it in a spray bottle and spray the animals and their bedding (do not spray eyes, inside ears or genital areas) Spray the carpets and all cracks and crevices of floors (carpets and tile) not good on wood. Not good around birds, I saturate one room, close the door and then go to next room. Put birds in a room that isn't being treated. Do not stay in the sprayed rooms leave until carpet/floor dries. Once I had a flea my arm and ankle i spritz the area with the alcohol and the flea died instantly.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Erica (Merced, CA) on 10/19/2008

acv pinesole worked really good for the flies my poor dogs were infested with them and when we sprayed it all over the back yard they were all gone.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Deb (Brooklyn, Wisconsin) on 07/20/2007

I mix ACV with Avon Skin So Soft, Citronella and water to make a fly spray for my horses and mini donkeys. Have also tried it on my dogs and it smells great.

Replied by Debra
(Watford, Ontario Canada)

does this not sting or hurt their bites??? and is it safe, don't get into blood stream? I was considering SSS from Avon and have tried tea tree oil mixed with mild detergent/shampoo.

Please help, getting tons of small bites on her undersides and legs and throat... And around face etc.... Help, my yearlings are pretty blondes don't want them all chewed up! Debra

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Krissy (Plant Cirty, Fl.) on 05/10/2007

I was absoluetly amazed with the resuts after I started using ACV, pine sol and water as a spray on my horse,I also sprayed it in her stable and the flies are gone, You will still see a few but not near as many as there was,I mixed equal portions of ACV,skin so soft and waterand rubbed on her face careful not to get it in her eyes,she tilerated it ok not as good as sher normally is,but would you like the smell,the next day you can't hardly smell it at all.Her caot is so shinny and soft.I think I have discovered something, No more expensive fly spray.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Melissa (Gonzales, TX) on 12/10/2006

I have been using ACV on JR this past year and have seen a big difference in using this product then any of those commerical fly sprays. I give him around 1/2 cup per day with 2.5 lbs of grain. I also mix in corn oil around 1/2 cup and this has kept his coat looking shinny and flys to a minmum. Great Stuff!

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Sylvie (Langley, B.C) on 07/12/2006

I have a beautiful, 6yr old standard bred mare that i only bought about 6 weeks ago, who was very impressive looking when i first laid eyes on her, she was very healthy and strong, she stands 15.2 and now she has been under attack by flies and mosquitoes and you can just see her aggravation --she runs herself into a sweat and has even lost weight from it , she's not as pretty because she has tons of bumps all over her body. So i took it upon myself to look on the internet for a solution and found this site. I have now been using the acv and canola oil and have mixed it 60/40, more acv then oil. I think it's working so far because she is healing and seems happier. I'm now thinking of using it in her feed to see what results i get from there. thanks for this site, I'm confident this will be the best thing for her in the end.

Replied by Tonya
(Hill Country, Texas)

Be careful using canola oil internally. It's real name is Rape Seed Oil... It's a creation with its intended use being as an insecticide.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Ds Doyle (Aurora, Colorado) on 08/13/2009

Yea, ACV. We have a 15 yr old mare that was getting bitten by flies and bleeding from them. We used ACV and Garlic in her food daily and could really see the difference in her bites. When we had gone on vacation the care givers ran out of ACV and when we returned we saw more bite marks on her again. The ACV and garlic both really work. It also keeps the flies down in the corral and barn.

Replied by Charles
(Competa, Malaga, Spain)

Apple Cider Vinegar and Garlic? My horse is being driven crazy and so am I by his state! What mixtures do you use/quantities? My Gypsy Horse wont eat garlic although I put fresh garlic in all his feed bins he just leaves them behind. How do you get the garlic in the ACV? Is it fresh, granules or powder? I'm desperate for these answers. many thanks. Charles

Bot Fly Remedies

Posted by Nancie (Vernal, Ut) on 08/21/2020

I need help with what think are bot flies in my tiny dog. She's a mouser and chases chipmonks. What can I use on the tiny bumps to suffocate the larvae?

Replied by Sherri
(Seattle, Wa)

Many have had success using a thick paste of 70% sulfur, pine oil and vaseline (petroleum). There are several Veterinary or farm salves that have these ingredients (e.g., NuStock). This paste has been used successfully on farms and by Vets for over a hundred years in treating myiasis/fly larval wounds and many other types of wounds and skin issues.

Leave the paste on for 3 days and keep it moist by covering it with plastic wrap & tape or use a moisture proof bandage to keep it moist and tape the edges to prevent the removal of the bandage. You may need to apply more paste during the 3 day period to keep it moist.

You can wrap the covered area with stretchy tape or gauze to keep it in place.

Make sure the paste extends past the infected area by 2-3 inches so ensure than you are treating all of the infection and to prevent the infection from "running away" from the killing agents.

After 3 days, wipe off the paste and whatever has been drawn out of the skin. Then, rinse and pat dry.

Repeat the 3 day paste procedure until nothing more is drawn out of the skin.

Pine creosote, pine tar, 100% gum pine turpentine, etc.... have all been used in various forms to treat these types of conditions because pine creates an anaerobic environment which forces the larvae to surface to the skin where you must remove them. Sometimes you need to use tweezers or serrated forceps because some of them hold onto the skin for dear life. They can have suckers, barbs, etc....

There are many other solutions that can force the bugs to surface to be removed.

For example, some people apply a cloth soaked in turpentine over the area and cover that with something warm/hot for a couple hours which can cause them to surface. Or, a cloth filled with hot salt and then turpentine applied to the salt cloth and left on for as long as needed. Repeat as needed.

Another way to remove fly larvae is to rub in "real" Diatomaceous Earth into the area a couple times a day. Eventually, all of the bugs under the skin will surface to be removed. Continue until nothing else is drawn from the skin.

Some people have noted that if you apply the DE quite generously after rubbing it into the skin then, apply plastic over this and then a hot moist towel on top, leave it on for a day, 1/2 a day, will cause the buggers to surface. This method works best after the infection has already been "opened up".

I know some have successfully applied several essential oils neat or lightly diluted to the area every 2-4 hours for as long as it takes until all the larvae surface. Can be days or longer.

Doctors are known to lance the area and physically remove the larvae. And, they will often give an anti-larval drug after the procedure (e.g., moxidectin, ivermectin, etc...).

NOTE: be careful when purchasing pine products (turpentine, oil, tar, etc...) because pine oil is one of the most adulterated oils on the market and can be synthetic and toxic. Much of it comes from China.

NOTE: some people will add additional essential oils to the sulfur paste: e.g., lavender, gum turpentine, eucalyptus, peppermint, orange, etc... These essential oils are all anti larval. There are others.

Or, they will apply one or several of the oils to the area first (can dilute) and then cover it with the paste. Add more of the paste and these oils as needed.

Wish you the best in treating your dog

(Seattle, Wa)

Hello again,

I wanted to add a few other well known medical treatments for myiasis:

1. Apply an Ivermectin or Thiabendazole cream to the area 4 times a day. Rub it in very well. These drugs are anti-larval and will force the larvae to surface and kill them. Typically 1% Ivermectin or 15% Thiabendazole creams are used. Sometimes, the percentage of Ivermectin is increased to 1.5,2 or 3%. Often they will add DMSO to the cream to increase penetration or rub it on after the cream is applied to the skin; in which case, apply the cream twice. If the animal has sensitive skin they will use a VERSA base cream preparation.

Some animal treatments use Moxidectin both topically and/or orally.

Depending upon the depth of the infection and the species, it can take days to weeks or longer to entirely clear out all of the larvae. Some species lay more larvae than others and some parasitic fly species are very small and lay very small larvae. Bot fly larvae are generally larger and easier to remove manually.

A parasitic fly bite can look very benign but cause life threatening infections. Many fly bites look like small pimples which grow and worsen over time.

Myiasis wounds can vary radically in their presentations from a benign-looking bump or swelling on the skin which can enlarge & spread over time to something that is obvious in presentation such as a very large and painful lump with a puncture hole in the middle and exuding clear fluid or diluted bloody fluid (hallmark of many parasitic fly bites).

Many fly bites can develop a crust over the infected area.

Most myiasis infections will be painful to very painful if firmly pressed on.

The animals will feel like something is moving under their skin.

All insect bites should be promptly and adequately treated.

2. Large bot fly bites: clay or another strong & occlusive drawing salve is applied for a full day, 24 hours, to draw the organism to the surface and then pressure is applied to the sides to force the organism out. The problem with this method is remnants of the organism can remain to cause an infection or, there can be more than one organism in the wound. So, one must be thorough and monitor the area.

Good luck will clearing this infection!

Dog Fly Repellent

Posted by Wishapup (Southeastern Area, Ontario, Canada) on 05/13/2013

My dog is plagued by flies every year (especially her sensitive, floppy ears) and the only thing that's worked well so far is a strong chemical product that I apply to her ears and do not like using.

Last year, I compounded a homemade mixture, but I don't think it was quite strong enough. It deterred some of the flies but she suffered nonetheless.

This year, I want to try a mixture of:

2 cups water
2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Cayenne pepper
1 packet Avon Skin-So-Soft
10 drops spearmint oil
10 drops citronella oil

I plan to mix it in a spray bottle and mist it on her coat. Does this sound okay? Strong enough? Right proportions?

I'm determined to keep the flies off this time.

Eucalyptus Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Boomer (Toledo, ohio) on 07/04/2009

i just finished reading most of these posts, and remembered that i have some eucalyptus oil and water in a spray bottle for warding off fleas....tried it for flies on Boomer JUST NOW... working so far....

Lemon Dish Soap, Lemon Ammonia

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Dr Doc (dlcs) (U.S.A.) on 07/06/2009

Home Remedies Fly Control

i am crippled with parkinsons disease and have a small veg garden for a therapy. i use one cup of lemon scented dishwashing liquid and one cup of lemon scented amonia in a 20 gallon hose end sprayer. i fill the remainder of the sprayer bottle with water and it seems to work quit well for flies and other insects control. i apply about every third day or so. i also plan now to use your sites suggestions. Thanks, Dr Doc (dlcs)

Spearmint Oil

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Dawn (North Hollywood, CA) on 08/01/2006

You mix 15-20 drops of spearmint oil in a spray bottle with water, spray on fur and ears, careful not to get in eyes, you can spray dog houses, the outer perimeter of your home and the flies disappear almost instantly. my dogs are 7 and I have never found anything that worked until I tried this.

Spearmint Oil
Posted by Dawn (North Hollywood, CA) on 07/10/2006

I would like to tell you about something I discovered I did not see on your site. Dogs and Flies... My dogs were being eaten up by flies, a friend recommended spearmint oil and it worked. I have been using it over a week now and there has not been one fly around them since. IT WORKS.

Replied by Lb Gal
(Long Beach, Ca)

We moved homes and have a nice back yard now w/ shade. Our 2 lab mixes just started getting pestered by tiny flies all of a sudden (May-June-through now July). We wash them every week. They are indoor/outdoor dogs. Went to Whole foods to buy some essential spearmint oil to mix w/ h2o. Just sprayed our dogs... So far its working.. Hope it continues!! Thx for the easy and wholistic tip!

Replied by Lace_lael
(Midwest, Nd)

Dear People who post to this site: Please be specific when you post your remedies. example pet category: Flies: One post says 10-12 drops of spearment oil in a spray bottle.

This is not specific enough to be helpful. 10-12 drops in a 2 oz, 4 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz or 20 oz spray bottle... With water? with oil? with ???? I love that people share what has worked for them but I have a request for them that they be specific enough that we can repeat their success!! Do not post remedies that are not complete enough for them to be helpful or useable. TELL US WHAT YOU DID!! Thank you! Lace_ lael

Tea Tree Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Mama To Many (Tennessee) on 07/26/2014


A farmer my son knew had a sick calf that he didn't have time to deal with and gave it to my son, hoping he could nurse it back to health and then keep it. So this calf had some kind of parasite/bugs on the face. I mixed up tea tree essential oil and water (1 T. oil to 1.5 cups water) in a spray bottle. My son sprayed this on the calf in the face a couple of times a day. It did seem to rid her of the parasite. We also noticed that flies were no longer on her face. If we sprayed her whole body she would be fly free for hours. I guess this would be an expensive long term solution (and not very convenient)but for a sick animal who needs to be spared the further irritation of flies, it works.

By the way, my son has had the calf for 6 weeks or so by now. She is doing well. I think she is going to make it! She is very sweet and friendly and hangs out with our big cows.

~Mama to Many~

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