Monday, April 7, 2008

No! Not Gnats!


After a day and a half of cold, gloomy weather, the sun brought out some unexpected little devils this afternoon. The horses were suddenly under attack by gnats in the pasture. Siete spun in circles, shaking her head like crazy. Silk rubbed her ears against the fence post. At first, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. As I came closer, I couldn’t believe that there were flying insects already attacking my horses less than an hour after the temperature crawled up to 60 degrees.

I raced to the tack room and dug out the almost empty bottle of fly spray. Fortunately, it seemed to discourage the gnats for at least a half an hour. Both horses stood at the gate, practically begging me to let them go back inside the barn. I felt really bad, since the sun was shining and the air was so warm. As the gnats began dive bombing their ears again, I gave in and led the girls to safety.

Mysteriously, there were no gnats in the stalls, only fresh pine shavings and an early dinner. I’m taking this as a warning that I should double my order of fly predators and stock up on more fly spray tomorrow.

14 comments:

billie said...

Victoria, I got fly masks out this week during just such a sunny day's surprise.

The pony takes his off w/in about 30 seconds so we no longer put it on, and Cody will generally get his off in the first hour, but Keil Bay and Salina love the masks and keep them on until bedtime when those nasty gnats are gone.

I have been told that a very thin layer of petroleum (or the un-petro kind) rubbed lightly on the hair right inside the ear (not deep) will keep the gnats out. Since we use the masks, I've never tried the jelly treatment.

Our fly predators are here but not hatched out enough to disperse yet!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Do the girls have fly masks with ears from last year. That might help in the meantime. Just a thought. Although the gnats might not even be there tomorrow. Nasty little things aren't they.

Horse Gal said...

Poor Silk and Siete!! Good idea with the fly spray. :-)

Bill Evertson said...

During winter we beg for spring. We have this lovely forgiving memory that protects us from the insects, and allergies. I'm glad you are there for Silk and Siete. Thank you for the great poems and posts of late. I wish you the best with your girls as the weather turns for the better.

Rising Rainbow said...

Gnats! Yuck and the season is just getting started. Do fly predators work on gnats too? I'm not well versed in their dining habits. lol

Sure hope this isn't a sign of things to come. It's not been warm enough here to hatch much of anything yet.

Callie said...

Just waiting for my first order of fly predator to arrive. Can't wait. A little creeped out about the process of releasing them, but looking forward to if they work!

AnnL said...

No, the fly predators do not help with gnats. I hate those nasty little critters. I discovered a few years ago that the gnats hatch in running (not still) water, which is why there are no biological controls for them. Argh! It also explains why they are worse after a snowy winter--more running water from the snow melt.

I've also not found any fly sprays that work on them. What do you use?

Ann

Lynda said...

Nothing helps completely. I use a concoction of 1/2 Skin So Soft and 1/2 Pyrhana Fly Spray. Usually I'll spray some on a small sponge and wipe it on their face and in their ears. My farrier told me about it - he uses it all the time to help horses stand still while he's working. Then I spray myself with Skin So Soft if I'm going to ride along the creek. I also vowed never to clip the inside of my horse's ears - they need that furry protection. I've seen show horses with the smooth inner ear just go crazy constantly tossing their head. Mine simply flick their ears a lot.

Victoria Cummings said...

I've been using Repel X, which is harsh stuff- it's all I had. Normally, I try to go organic with the fly spray, but we had the worst black flies last fall so my neighbor brought me the Repel X. And it works on the gnats. I will try Skin So Soft - I have some of that too. And I'm going to get something more natural at the feed store this afternoon. My horses will tolerate fly masks, but they don't like 'em. So it's usually a last resort around here. I love these fly spray tips and recipes - please tell me more!

billie said...

I have heard very good things about the Flicks spray but haven't tried it yet as I can't find it locally.

I also have a recipe somewhere around here for making your own with essential oils, etc. - supposedly works well but is messy due to the oil you have to use to keep it all together and on the horse. Haven't yet tried it.

We don't clip ears (actually we don't clip at all) so ours aren't driven crazy by the gnats, but they will come to the barn during the late afternoon if the gnats get bad. It's too bad the girls don't like fly masks b/c the ones with ears do take care of the problem. Keil Bay shoves his head right into his.

Maybe you could try the crocheted ear things that people usually use in shows? Covers just the ears and if you leave halters on in the pasture, that would help keep them on securely.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Hi Victoria
You have been selected to receive an award, please stop by and pick it up when you get the chance.
Arlene

Grey Horse Matters said...

p.s. I just thought of something that might help. If the girls don't care for fly masks, we have these ear covers that just fit over the ears not the whole face, with a little crocheted piece that goes between the ears. I don't know what they are called but they work when we are riding and can be used with the bridle.

Victoria Cummings said...

Funny thing, I thought about those little horse hats too - the ones that make them look like Egyptian princesses - I will try that tomorrow when I turn them out - although the gnats weren't as fierce today since the air stayed cool.

Pony Girl said...

I've noticed the same problem the past few days, and it's barely been 50 degrees here! The little buggers are just flocking to my horse after I lounge him. They smell that sweaty winter horse fuzz and think dinner, or something!
Victoria, I just wanted to say that your blog keeps me so grounded! I really enjoy reading your insight, it's like having a warm mug of cocoa every day! You are one of the inspirations for me starting my own blog. I love your cute mares and I am dying to see a picture of them under saddle....
Take care!