For the past two weeks the weather has been sweltering. Tonight, it was merely hot. I thought I might sneak in a ride after dinner. The problem wasn’t the heat, it was the deer flies.
They started to swarm around my car as I left my driveway. The horses were standing in the barn when I arrived, showing they were smarter than me.
Often I can ride in the field without being too bothered but this was not one of those nights. Despite the fact that I had soaked Freedom in fly spray it wasn’t enough. They were driving him nuts.
Deer flies are attracted to movement, shiny surfaces, carbon dioxide, and warmth. A human and a horse are just one big target. However, a bit of research suggests that you can trick deer flies with a bit of ingenuity, a sticky adhesive, and the color blue.
For some reason deer flies like the color blue. So most of the traps you read about online feature it prominently. Much of the research in this field has been done by Russell F. Mizell, Ph.D. and a team of researchers at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research and Education Center. Through trial and error, they determined that a 6-inch plastic nursery pot painted a bright blue is the optimum size and color. Placed on a rod upside down, the blue pot will rotate and shake which attracts deer flies. Cover the pot in a sticky adhesive, and you have a trap. Dr. Mizell and his team found this trap effective at trolling for deer flies when it was mounted on a moving truck, tractor or lawnmower. Think of how well it would work on a horse!
According to Dr. Mizell,
If you want to reduce the number of deer flies landing on your body, you can make a smaller “hat” trap you can wear (and be the height of gardening fashion). Deer flies usually fly at heights lower than 10 feet and usually attack the highest available area on the human body first.
The motion must have angular displacement, i.e. movement through space. Deer flies are mostly ambush predators, they sit and wait for their prey to come to them. Thus, the trap will not work if it sits in one place even if it is rotating or shaking. Traps must be moved through space. Deer flies usually fly at heights lower than 10 feet and usually attack the highest available area on the human body first. Walking with a trap mounted on a pole and shaken overhead can be effective.
There are lots of testimonials on the website that describe how well this method works, including several from equestrians. I’m running out tomorrow and buying the blue cups.
Read first hand how to build your deer fly trap at Dr. Mizell’s website.
And remember — never wear blue during deer fly season!