Sunday, April 20, 2008

Year of the Gnat

Everything feels slightly off-kilter today. It’s all the gnats fault, I think. They’re so bad that I might have to start wearing that extra fly mask I’ve got in the tack room. Silk hates to wear a fly mask. She usually rips it off with lightening speed. This morning, she bent down her head and offered her ears to me, desperate for some relief. Does anyone have any non-toxic remedies to get rid of gnats?

I think the horses look super-heroes. Who is that masked horse?

16 comments:

Pony Girl said...

Oh, that is such a great picture!! Do your girls know you put it on the internet?? I have never used the masks with the ear covers before. No ideas for gnat control, I'm eager to hear if others do. As soon as this hail and snow stops, I'm sure ours will come around in full force!

Grey Horse Matters said...

The gnats ARE awful this year. We just use the fly masks with the ears, they seem to help a lot.

detroit dog said...

They can see through the netting?

Hmmm.... Have you tried one of those bug zappers? I heard also that bowls of apple cider vinegar will draw the gnats (indoors). We had them around here - a lot - a couple of summers ago. Fortunately, we had a couple of bats in the garage that seemed to take care of the gnats. I planted garlic around the plants, and that seemed to keep them off there.

Alien Thoughts said...

Dear Victoria
For a long term strategy, grow lavender around the horse yards and pyrethrum daisies. These are natural deterrents to insects of all types. Peppermints can also be put into the mix.
Meanwhile a few drops of Citronella oil in warm water can be sprayed onto the horses' bodies and deter all insects. You can wipe diluted citronella gently and carefully on their faces. This will eliminate the need for the veils if your mare really hates it.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, AT - I love lavender and peppermint - and I'll see if I can find some of those kind of daisies. The organic fly spray that I use - Nature's Defense - has the citronella in it. It just doesn't last very long - I've been spraying them every couple of hours.

billie said...

You might try a garlic-based supplement - I've been thinking about trying Horse Tech's Buggoz, which has garlic, apple cider vinegar, several B vits, grapeseed, and DE among a few other ingredients I'm forgetting. They say you can see a difference in 2 weeks.

It's not cheap, which is why I haven't tried it yet, and I'm also not sure about the DE and how it might affect the fly predators. I keep meaning to email and ask that question.

I love their products though - they are doing a custom Glanzen blend for me that's tailored exactly to what I need, and it's only a little more expensive than the regular Glanzen.

Great people to work with, overall.

Bill Evertson said...

This is so strange - Karen and I were off to Block Island (RI) the last four days and when we arrived back here in CT. the gnats were out. I went to the drug store to buy some OFF or something and they told me the day before there was a run and there was non to buy. Either we wait for a restock or you tell us where we can buy human masks like you gave to Silk and Siete. Really - we don't mind looking like super hero's

Rising Rainbow said...

All the things I know of have been mentioned already. I hope you get if figured out soon for the horse's sake. I guess the bugs is one reason we can be happy it's still snowing. It's definitely going to mess up their season some.

Anonymous said...

Lee Valley has fly netting. I have some and it's the only relief I get from the gnats at this time of year. I hate to wear bug repellant and I don't find that it works against them, anyway. The netting can get warm, but it allows me to get my gardening done without being eaten alive. Here's a link. I hope it works.

http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=2&p=10292&cat=2,42407,33240

Ann

Heidi the Hick said...

Mine wear fly masks pretty much all summer, but they don't mind. Copper tends to have kind of runny eyes (many appaloosas do) and she'll practically put her head right into the mask.

We used to call Champ, my ol gelding, The Masked Avenger in his superhero mask! Also we've had some of Dad's garage customers become very concerned over these poor blind horses with their eyes all bandaged. It takes some explaining.

Anyways... all of my ideas for bug control have been covered here, and then some! Good advice!

Cassi said...

Love the picture of the Super Horses... I'm sure they truely are heroes in to you... and you to them.

I am writing to you now in a desperate plea ... I know that you have many readers in the blogging world - and they are horse lovers and would love for their own chance to be a hero.
I mentioned to you before about Refuge Farms - a rescue farm for horses in Wisconsin. Well, being a non profit - they are having difficulty raising funds for hay. And we all know - that without hay - no horses. They estimate that it will take $15,000 to cover the cost for hay alone for the farm for this upcoming winter.
Would you possibly consider posting a blog to alert your friends of this challenge? The link directly to the 2nd Annual Hay Challenge for Refuge Farms is http://www.refugefarms.org/hay_fund2.html On that page - you find out more about the farm, and their mighty need. The main page is www.refugefarms.org

Just so you know - I am not affilated with Refuge Farms ... I just stumbled across their website much the same as I stumbled across yours... just trying to network and see if I can help to bring the 2 worlds together... Thanks for your consideration in this Victoria...

Night Owl said...

I don't think I can add any more, my mare will be back in her mask soon, I noticed the midges were out today.

Trail Riding Cowgirl said...

Hi Victoria

A few years back I had a Norwegian Fjord pony and he was bothered badly by the midges. I used Neem oil on his crusty ears and it seemed to do the trick. I can't remember where I got it..... hmmmn.
I will have to do some research. I use my own concoction of skin so soft , vinager and water for my repellent. good luck

Victoria Cummings said...

Thank you all for these great suggestions! I am eager to check them out.

Cassi - I went to the website of Refuge Farms and also to Sandy's blog, refugefarms.blogspot.com. I think she sounds like a wonderful person and I encourage everyone to check out what she is doing and make a contribution if you are so inclined. Thanks for the link and for your concern about saving horses.

Anonymous said...

My horse either manages to slip out of his fly mask or one of the other horses in the pasture will "help" him out by yanking it off. Two things you can do to prevent this:
1. Trim the velcro straps on the fly mask so they are just long enough to close; extra "overhang" just provides an easy handle for other horses to grab on and yank.
2. Put the fly mask on first and then put the halter over the fly mask, comfortable but snug. Many fly masks have that little loop on the crown and you can also run the halter crown strap through this loop for added security.

When we ride (here in SC it's been gnat season for almost two months), I use a crocheted fly bonnet with tassels and ear pieces. I spray the bonnet with fly spray before I tack up my horse and the flies and gnats leave HIM alone. Gonna have to start putting that stuff on me, too!

Sharon Miner said...

When our show horses developed skin irritations last year from the Florida black sand in the soil and fire ants (we live in Virginia and winter in Ocala) our vet suggested a 50/50 vinegar/water rinse on their whole body. Just don't get it in the eyes! We found that the flies and other bugs also stayed away - a bonus!