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What To Look For In Insect Repellents

What to look for in insect repellents

The sun is out, the weather warming up and nothing can stop us from enjoying some summer fun with our horses. But wait – what’s that buzz?! Yes, unfortunately, summer heralds the arrival of insect menace, which can mean annoyance, fly bites and even quite nasty reactions in our horses. We need to ensure we are prepared to protect our horses and ponies from attack.

Why you should be using registered products only

All equine fly repellents come under legal registration requirements, which are put in place to ensure the product is safe for the animal, effective and safe for the environment. Making and using unlicensed products is illegal, so when choosing a fly repellent for your horse firstly check for that registration number. In the UK registration is controlled by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive), and you should see HSE……. followed by a series of numbers on the label. No HSE number, don’t take the risk.

Registered products include those based on DEET (Di-ethyl-toluamide), perhaps the best known and widest researched insect repellent. Products such as NAF OFF DEET Power Performance are approved for use on horses. DEET was developed by the US army when facing jungle warfare back in the 1940s and is thought to work by confusing the insect by changing the aroma, and by providing an oily barrier which insects find hard to land on. Inclusion rates for DEET are legally capped to ensure it is safe for your horse and the environment, so beware of using very high levels which may not be suitable.

If you prefer a naturally derived insect repellent, look for those based on Eucalyptus citriodora oil, such as NAF OFF Extra Effect. This naturally derived oil is legally recognized as being safe and effective and is a popular choice for many horse and pony owners.

What about Citronella?

Traditionally used when insects are around, citronella based products are a popular choice for many. However, citronella is not recognized under the HSE legal requirements for fly repellents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it on your horse for at all. Citronella can be used, for example, as a fresh scented summer spray, or cooling wash; it simply can’t be sold or marketed as a fly repellent.

Fly Repellent Management Tips

Those insects can be persistent, so having the right fly repellent may only be part of your approach. Follow these tips to keep you and your horse protected this summer.

  • Use registered fly repellents, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on use and when to re-apply.
  • Try using two different fly repellents, for example, NAF OFF Deet Power Performance and NAF OFF Extra Effect, and swapping between them each day, as confusing the insects with different repellents are recognised and recommended.
  • Try to turn out horses away from standing water, where insects gather.
  • Insects love a hot, sweaty horse. Use NAF Cooling Wash after work, so your horse is refreshed and field ready.
  • Keep feed stored securely in clean, dry, sealed containers to avoid unwanted visitors in the feed room.
  • Manage that muckheap, to keep it neat and away from the horses, and regularly poo pick the fields, which helps pasture quality, worm management and insect management.


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