Mosquito numbers flourish as we come out of the wet winter, meaning these annoying pests may be around for a bit longer than normal. Not only do they cause an irritating bite, mosquitoes are carriers of a number of diseases for both horses and humans.
Prevention is always better than a cure, especially when it comes to things such as diseases and illnesses. As a horse owner, you should be doing everything you can in reducing the risk of exposure to mosquitoes. As they are an extremely common insect, even more so around water, it may be impossible to completely prevent your horse from being bitten. However Petplan come up with a few suggestions that will help minimise the risk of your horse getting bitten and possibly contracting mosquito-borne diseases.
Take control of breeding sites
Still or stagnant water is a main attraction for mosquitoes, with many making these areas their breeding sites. This is why it is necessary to remove these water sources from the premises to cut down on mosquito numbers and stop their breeding sites. All still water sources should be looked at, which includes: any containers that are open and can hold rain water (do not remove your horses water source); spare tyres lying around always have a little bit of water in them; and make sure water tanks are not open or accessible for mosquitoes.
Good quality repellents which can be bought from your local vet or horse supply store are some of the best ways to prevent mosquitoes. Getting the recommendation from your vet or store attendant will allow you to know which will be best for your case, as the repellents can come in all different products. Be sure to apply a small amount to your horse to begin with in case they get an allergic reaction to the product.
Mosquitoes are most prevalent during dawn and dusk, therefore it is wise to keep your horses in their stables during these active periods. Along with this, there are other ways to reduce the risk of mosquito bites whilst in the stables. Installing fluorescent lights that don’t attract mosquitoes can help quite a bit, or turning lights off and ones away from the stable on to attract the insects away from the horses.
Other methods to protect your horses whilst in their stables include: screening the stable windows and others entrances; fogging, fans and automated overhead misting systems; or using commercial mosquito traps are all great ways at alleviating the amount of mosquitoes.
The use of physical barriers such as rugs and hooding in lightweight material or lightweight fly sheets/masks/boots can help protect against the insects. Keep in mind though, that in warm weather these thin mesh sheets can make your horse uncomfortable and make them sweat and overheat.
In addition to possible diseases, insect bites (not only from mosquitoes) are a very common cause of skin disease in horses. They can create wounds large enough to welcome a bacterial infection. It is important to keep a close eye on your horse and to note if anything looks out of the ordinary. It is also encouraged to contact your local veterinarian for further information about mosquito-borne diseases and how to reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Any horse showing unusual or unexplained signs of disease should be promptly reported to a vet.