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Bot Flies & Horses

What Is A Bot Fly?

Bot flies are parasitic insects whose larvae grow inside the flesh and guts of animals. They are also commonly referred to as warble flies. Bot flies sometimes use mediums to deposit their eggs onto a 'host' (i. e. a horse). Some of these mediums can be mosquitoes, ticks and the common houseflies. This is a mechanism that the bot fly uses as most animal hosts can usually tell when the bot fly approaches.

This happens when the female bot fly pins down the smaller fly and rotates it into a position that allows for the bot fly to deposit her eggs under the wings of the small fly. In the case of the smaller fly, it will probably land on an animal at which point the eggs will drop onto their skin and dig, effectively implanting in a mammals body. The warmth of the animal encourages the hatching of the eggs to start. Host animals can also accidentally ingest the larvae, which ends up in their guts when they lick an area that has been bitten by botfly that will usually leave its eggs at that spot.

Why Are Bot Flies Dangerous To Horses?

Bot flies are more common in the summer when it’s hot. One of their most common effects in horses includes irritation once they are deposited on the animals’ inner legs and on their knees.  This irritation sometimes happens in the mouth or nose of the horse when they ingest the larvae or when the larvae eggs are laid in the area around their mouth.

Another danger that is caused by bot flies on horses is ulcers. These can either be on the mouth or in the digestive system walls; small intestines and stomach lining. This is often as a result of erosion of the skin around those surfaces as the larvae attach themselves on those walls.

Attachment of the bot flies larvae on stomach walls of the horse will in addition cause the animals a lot of pain due to the ulcers. This also translates in poor eating habits by the horse resulting in overall deterioration of their health.

Moreover, the horse might become anaemic, suffer blockage in the intestines or even suffers oesophageal paralysis.

How To Prevent Bot Flies

Going by the severity of bot flies, and the effect to the health of a horse - as a horse owner you should take precaution to avoid this from happening. This can be done through constantly grooming your horse and always be on the lookout for the larvae. They can seen as small yellow eggs sitting in the horses coat.

Washing the horse's legs with hot water will cause the larvae to hatch and then you can apply an insecticide to eliminate them. Make sure you consult your veterinarian before giving the horse any internal insecticide or using an external insecticide is also advisable. Or you can also simply use a scissor and cut them off if there are only a few.

Proper disposal of manure far from the stables will also reduce flies from being in the stables and lower the risk of being used as conduits for the eggs. Removing the manure can also kill the larvae in it effectively breaking the cycle before they mature into the bot flies.