Skip to Content

Homemade Horse Fly Spray: Will They Work on Your Horses?

Any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks in advance – I really appreciate it!


As the temperature rises, a familiar menace rears its head in horse stables everywhere – the persistent and pesky horse flies. These seemingly insatiable insects not only make life uncomfortable for our equine friends, but they also pose a risk to their health. The question lingers: How can we protect our horses effectively without breaking the bank on commercial sprays?

Enter the realm of homemade horse fly sprays, a DIY solution that’s gaining popularity. Promising an affordable, customizable, and often more natural way to combat these bothersome insects, these sprays offer an appealing alternative to off-the-shelf products. But in the face of stubborn horse flies, do these homemade concoctions truly hold their ground?

In this blog post, we’re going to dive deep into the world of homemade horse fly sprays. We’ll explore the ingredients and recipes and, most importantly, put them to the test. Do these sprays actually work? Let’s find out together.

Why Consider Homemade Horse Fly Sprays?

Horse fly sprays are a necessity for many horse owners. These pesky flies can not only irritate your horse but can also lead to health issues. But when you stroll down the aisle of your local pet store, you’ll find a variety of commercial fly sprays, all promising to do the job. So why would you consider making your own horse fly spray at home? Let’s dive into the reasons.

Concerns with Commercial Products (e.g., Chemicals)

Commercial horse fly sprays often contain a cocktail of chemicals. While these chemicals may be effective in warding off flies, they can also lead to concerns:

  1. Allergies and Sensitivities: Some horses might have a reaction to these chemicals, causing skin irritation or even more severe health problems.
  2. Environmental Impact: The chemicals in these sprays can harm other insects and the surrounding ecosystem.
  3. Long-Term Effects: There’s still much that we don’t know about the long-term effects of these chemicals on a horse’s overall well-being.

Benefits of Homemade Options

With the concerns around commercial products in mind, here’s why a homemade horse fly spray might be a better choice for you and your equine friend:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness:
    • Save Money: Homemade fly sprays are often made from household items or affordable natural ingredients. Compared to the price tags on store-bought sprays, you can save a significant amount.
    • Less Waste: You can make the exact amount you need and even recycle a spray bottle, reducing waste.
  2. Natural Ingredients:
    • Gentler on Your Horse: By using natural ingredients like essential oils, you know exactly what’s going on your horse’s skin. This can be reassuring, especially if your horse has sensitive skin.
    • Eco-Friendly: Natural ingredients tend to be more environmentally friendly, aligning with a more sustainable way of living.
  3. Customizability:
    • Tailor to Your Needs: Every horse is unique, and with a homemade spray, you can adjust the formula to suit your horse’s specific needs and preferences.
    • Experiment and Innovate: You can try different ingredients and concentrations to see what works best for your situation. This freedom to customize sets homemade sprays apart from the one-size-fits-all commercial products.

While commercial horse fly sprays may be convenient, the benefits of creating your own spray at home are significant. It allows for a more personalized, eco-friendly, and cost-effective approach, without the unknowns that come with chemical-laden products. If you care for your horse’s health and your wallet, it might be time to consider the homemade route!

Picture of a group of young horses in a pasture where horseflies are prevalent.

DIY Horse Fly Spray Recipes

Tired of spending money on expensive commercial horse fly sprays that may contain harsh chemicals? The DIY approach is not just for home improvement projects; you can also craft your own horse fly spray right at home. Here’s how you can create effective and natural sprays to keep those pesky flies at bay.

Introduction to DIY Approach

The do-it-yourself (DIY) method for creating horse fly spray is both fun and practical. It allows you to be in control of what goes into the spray, ensuring it’s safe for your horse and the environment. Plus, it’s a creative way to engage with the care of your horse and connect with nature through the use of natural ingredients.

Ingredients Required

Before we dive into the recipes, let’s gather the common ingredients you might need. Many of these are likely already in your kitchen or easily found at a local store:

  • Essential oils (e.g., citronella, tea tree, lavender)
  • White vinegar
  • Liquid soap (preferably unscented or mild)
  • Water
  • Spray bottle

Step-by-step Instructions for Various Recipes

  1. Essential Oil-Based Spray: a. Fill a spray bottle with one cup of water. b. Add 5-10 drops each of citronella, tea tree, and lavender essential oils. c. Shake well before each use to mix the oils with the water. d. Spray lightly on your horse, avoiding the eyes.
  2. Vinegar-Based Spray: a. Mix one cup of white vinegar with one cup of water in a spray bottle. b. If desired, add 5 drops of an essential oil like citronella for added fragrance. c. Shake well and apply as needed.
  3. Soap-Based Spray: a. Combine one quart of water with a tablespoon of liquid soap in a spray bottle. b. Add a few drops of essential oils if desired. c. Shake well before applying, making sure to rinse it off after a while to avoid any residue.

Tips for Storage and Application

  • Shake Well Before Use: As many natural ingredients can separate, always shake the bottle well before spraying.
  • Avoid Sensitive Areas: Be mindful of your horse’s eyes, nose, and mouth when applying.
  • Test a Small Area First: Since every horse is unique, test a small area for any reaction before applying the spray all over.
  • Store Properly: Keep your homemade fly sprays in a cool, dark place. If you used essential oils, using a dark-colored bottle can help preserve the oils’ potency.
  • Reapply as Needed: Depending on the ingredients and the level of fly activity, you may need to reapply the spray throughout the day.

Creating your DIY horse fly spray can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. By understanding your horse’s needs and experimenting with these recipes, you can develop a perfect solution that is both effective and safe. Happy mixing.

Note: For horse owners interested in making their fly sprays, it would be best to consult with a veterinarian or equine care specialist who is knowledgeable about natural remedies. They can provide guidance on safe and effective ingredients for the specific needs and sensitivities of your horse.

Picture of essential oils used to make homemade horse fly sprays.

My Go-To Apple Cider Vinegar Spray


Pour the components into a spray bottle and shake to mix the ingredients. Before each use, shake the bottle to ensure the ingredients are well-mixed. Spray lightly on your horse, avoiding the eyes and mouth.

This recipe is quick and easy. You can add a teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing soap or swap out white vinegar for apple cider vinegar. You may also want to try different essential oils, such as citronella, instead of Eucalyptus oil.

This simple horse spray works effectively for roughly an hour before you will need to apply it to your horse again. The need to reapply after an hour is consistent with most commercial-grade sprays.

Picture of a young thoroughbred stallion.

Testing Our Horses Homemade Fly Spray

To figure out how well our homemade horse fly spray works, we set up a simple but solid test. We picked two healthy horses of about the same size. We sprayed our homemade mix on the first horse while the second horse got a dose of a widely-used store-bought spray.

For the next four hours, we kept an eye on both horses, noting how many flies were buzzing around each one and how often the horses showed signs of being bothered, like shaking their heads or swishing their tails.

The results were pretty clear. The horse with the homemade spray had far fewer flies bothering it and seemed much less irritated. On the other hand, the horse with the store-bought spray still had a fair number of flies around it and seemed more troubled by them.

So, based on our test, the homemade horse fly spray works really well – even better than the store-bought kind. This means that making your own spray could be a great way to save some money and keep your horse happy at the same time.

Natural Horse Fly Spray Options

Natural remedies have been a part of human history for thousands of years, and this wisdom extends to the care of our equine friends as well. When it comes to keeping flies away from horses, natural horse fly sprays can offer a gentle yet effective solution. Let’s explore what these natural options entail and why they might be worth considering.

Definition and Importance of Natural Ingredients

Natural ingredients come from nature and are not synthesized in a laboratory. They include plants, minerals, and animal products that have not been heavily processed. In the context of horse fly sprays, natural ingredients are important for several reasons:

  • Health and Well-being: They tend to be gentler on a horse’s skin and less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Environmental Responsibility: Natural ingredients often have a lower environmental impact, both in their production and their effect on other non-target organisms.
  • Alignment with Holistic Care: Using natural products aligns with an approach to horse care that considers the whole animal, including its physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Essential Oils

  • What They Are: Essential oils are concentrated extracts from plants that capture the fragrance and beneficial properties of the plant.
  • Common Examples: Citronella, tea tree, lavender, and eucalyptus oils are often used for their repellent properties.
  • How to Use: They can be diluted in water or a carrier oil and sprayed on the horse.

Herbs and Botanicals

  • What They Are: These are whole or processed plants or plant parts used for their therapeutic properties.
  • Common Examples: Garlic, rosemary, and peppermint are sometimes included in natural fly sprays.
  • How to Use: They can be infused into a liquid spray or added to a horse’s feed as part of an integrated fly control strategy.

Benefits and Potential Drawbacks


  • Less Likely to Cause Irritation: Natural ingredients are often more suitable for sensitive horses.
  • Potential Therapeutic Benefits: Some natural ingredients may offer additional health benefits, such as soothing the skin.
  • Supporting Biodiversity: Using plant-based remedies can promote a connection to nature and support sustainable farming practices.

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Less Effective: Natural sprays may need to be applied more frequently or may not be as effective as synthetic products in heavy fly infestations.
  • Potential Allergies: Just like synthetic ingredients, natural ones can cause allergic reactions in some horses, so careful testing is advised.
  • Cost and Availability: Some natural ingredients may be more expensive or harder to find.

Natural horse fly spray options offer a valuable alternative for those looking for gentler, more environmentally responsible solutions. However, they may require more careful consideration, ongoing observation, and potentially more frequent application to achieve the desired results. As with any horse care product, consulting with an equine health professional about the specific needs and sensitivities of your horse is always a wise approach.

Understanding Horse Flies

Horse flies are large, buzzing insects that are a serious nuisance for horses. These flies are known for their painful bites, which can cause discomfort and distress in horses. The female horse fly needs to consume a blood meal for successful reproduction, making our horses prime targets.

Horse flies have a unique lifecycle, going through four stages – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. They lay their eggs near water sources, and the larvae burrow into the ground after hatching, feeding on organic matter. The larvae eventually transform into pupae and finally into adult flies, ready to continue the cycle.

Their persistent biting and quick reproduction make them difficult to control, underlining the need for effective control methods. Not only do these bites cause distress, but they can also potentially transmit diseases, amplifying the importance of efficient horsefly management.

Picture of fresh shaving in a horse stall.
Keep your stall clean.

Common Methods to Control Horse Flies

Controlling horse flies requires a multifaceted approach. Common methods include mechanical traps, fly sheets, masks, and leg wraps for horses. These offer a physical barrier against the flies. Another widely used method is the application of fly sprays, both commercial and homemade.

Commercial horsefly sprays are popular due to their convenience and effectiveness. They often contain pyrethrins, a type of pesticide that quickly kill and repel flies. Additionally, these sprays are readily available and easy to apply. However, there are a few downsides.

Some horses may have allergic reactions to the chemicals, and there’s also the concern of environmental impact from these pesticides. Furthermore, commercial sprays can be costly, especially when used regularly throughout the fly season.

On the other hand, homemade sprays allow for customization, often using natural ingredients, and can be more cost-effective. Nonetheless, their effectiveness may vary, and it requires time and effort to prepare.

Picture of a horse with flies on its face.  It needs safe horse fly spray.

Comparing Homemade and Commercial Horse Fly Sprays

When comparing homemade horse fly sprays with commercial alternatives, several factors come into play. In our test, the homemade spray outperformed a common commercial spray, demonstrating impressive effectiveness in reducing fly activity and horse discomfort.

Cost is another key factor. Homemade sprays, created with readily available ingredients, can be considerably less expensive than store-bought sprays. Our recommended simple horse fly spray costs less than two dollars to make. A comparable bottle of commercial fly spray costs over twenty dollars. Over a fly season, this difference can add up, especially for those caring for multiple horses.

Safety and environmental impact are also worth considering. While commercial sprays are generally safe when used as directed, some horses may react to the synthetic compounds used. In contrast, homemade sprays can be made from natural ingredients, reducing the risk of adverse reactions.

Moreover, homemade sprays, especially those with biodegradable ingredients, may have less environmental impact than commercial products, which often contain pesticides.

However, convenience shouldn’t be overlooked. I have friends that love the convenience of picking up a bottle of fly spray when they are at the feed store. They have zero interest in making their spray, which is fine; however, for those who want to save money, this recipe is the right choice.

Additionally, the efficacy of homemade sprays can be variable, depending on the recipe used. Ultimately, the choice between homemade and commercial sprays will depend on individual priorities and circumstances.

The following are some tools you may find helpful in your battle against horseflies.

Most homemade horsefly sprays don’t contain harmful chemicals.

Homemade horsefly sprays are typically safer and more affordable than commercial options, as they avoid synthetic chemicals often found in commercial sprays. While most commercial sprays are safe when used properly, constant exposure to synthetic compounds may not be ideal for your horse’s wellbeing throughout summer.

Commercial repellents usually contain pyrethrins, pesticides derived from chrysanthemums, lethal to insects through neurotoxic effects. These are often combined with other chemicals to boost their effectiveness.

Are pyrethrins toxic to humans?

Pyrethrins, often found in fly sprays, have low toxicity to humans but can cause skin and respiratory irritation. They quickly decompose in sunlight, posing a minimal environmental risk.

Pyrethroids, synthetic versions of pyrethrins, are longer-lasting and potent against flies. Generally safe for humans when used correctly, they’re insect neurotoxins. Like pyrethrins, they also degrade quickly in sunlight.

Below is a helpful YouTube video showing how to make homemade fly spray for horses.


Horse flies are more than just a nuisance for horses and their caretakers; they pose a genuine challenge that requires an effective solution. This exploration into homemade horse fly sprays demonstrates their potential as a cost-effective, customizable, and potentially more natural alternative to commercial sprays.

While commercial sprays offer convenience and are generally safe, they can be expensive and contain synthetic chemicals. Our testing of a homemade recipe revealed promising results, making it a worthwhile option for those willing to invest the time in preparation.

Ultimately, the choice between homemade and commercial horse fly sprays depends on personal priorities, including cost, convenience, and the desire for natural solutions. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each, we can make informed decisions in the quest to keep our horses comfortable and horse fly-free.


Do horsefly masks work?

Yes, horse fly masks can be effective. They provide a physical barrier that prevents horse flies from landing on and biting a horse’s most vulnerable areas, including eyes and ears. However, they don’t protect the entire body, so using them in conjunction with other fly control methods is recommended.

What smell do horse flies hate most?

Horse flies are known to dislike certain smells, with citronella, eucalyptus, and peppermint among the most repelling. Therefore, these scents are commonly used in horsefly repellents. However, effectiveness can vary, and additional methods of horsefly control are often necessary for comprehensive protection.