Herbal Fly Sprays

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We've yet to find a natural-ingredient, aka ?herbal,? fly spray that performs as well as chemical-based pesticides. If you?ve got bad flies, you need a powerful weapon. Our favorites are Mosquito Halt (www.farnamhorse.com, 800-234-2269) and SuperShield Red (www.absorbine.com, 800-628-9653).

That said, if we can avoid chemicals, even for a while, we do. So, we were excited to try two new natural products on the market: Zephyr?s Garden?s Pure & Simple Fly Repellent and Elite Pharmaceuticals Fly & Insect Repellent. We also tried Espree Aloe Herbal ? a perennial Horse Journal natural favorite ? in a new type of dispenser.

The repellent from Zephyr?s Garden (www.zephyrsgarden.com, 805-448-0390) is an apple cider vinegar and wormwood tea blend that is said to also fight topical fungus (we did not check that aspect). It has a strong vinegar scent, if that's an issue for you. $19/32 oz.59??/oz.

Elite Pharmaceuticals (www.elitehorseproducts.com, 561-908-3350) incorporates ?Nano Technology,? which they state breaks down active ingredients into nano-size particles that absorb better. A blend of natural oils, it felt and smelled like, well, fly spray. Nicely priced at $15.99/32 oz. or 49??/oz.

The Espree Aloe Herbal Fly Repellent (www.espree.com, 800-328-1317) contains aloe vera, which we like for our horse's coat, and oils of citronella, cedarwood and eucalyptus for repelling flies. $12.50/16 oz. or 78??/oz.

Field Trial

We used these sprays during the early summer, when flies are active and biting. We experienced no reactions or problems. All three stopped most fly bites, but we noticed that whatever horse had the Espree Aloe Herbal was quiet the longest, meaning the least tail swishes, biting at herself and stomping. It seemed that the flies took a closer look at the horses in the other two products, so the horses were taking no chances on allowing one to land. Still, all three products performed acceptably well (see April 2009 for a full natural fly spray article).

What made the difference was dispensing the spray. The Espree Aloe Herbal reminded us of Farnam?s Thrush-XX aerosol (www.farnamhorse.com, 800-234-2269), which we love for thrush. This new aerosol technology allows a much easier application than squeeze-trigger sprays, and you can spray everywhere, even upside down for getting the belly. We liked seeing no ?wet spots? where too much fly spray got applied to the horse's coat.

Bottom Line

it's about 1 1/2 times the price, but the aerosol Espree Aloe is worth considering.