How to Keep Horse Flies Away from Your Yard

Follow these tips to protect yourself from horse flies and their painful bite.

How to Keep Horse Flies Away from Your Yard

Horse flies are notorious for their painful bites, thanks to scissor-like jaws. Female horse flies, like female mosquitoes, want to nourish themselves with your blood. (Male horse flies primarily stick to nectar.) But unlike a mosquito bite, which may not be noticed until it begins to itch, a horse fly bite will result in a big "ouch!" If your yard is plagued by horse flies, follow these tips to help protect you, your household, and your pets (or livestock).

What Do Horse Flies Look Like?

As one of the world's largest flies, they are relatively easy to identify but can be difficult to thwart. Look for these characteristics to determine if you have horse flies.

A horse fly on a leaf

Size: Horse flies have very large and stout bodies ranging from ¾ to 1-¼ inches long. 


Color: They vary in appearance from dark brown to grey to black.


Eyes: They have large eyes that can be green or black.

Maintain Your Yard

Horse flies love damp areas and hot weather, and it's common to find them in pasturelands near creeks during the summer. Around homes, they enjoy weedy areas and long grass that can trap moisture and recreate the humid pasture habitat they love so much. Horse flies can also be pests to people who hang out at the beach or local pool.

Remove Garbage

Seeking food, horse flies (like other fly species) will home in on garbage. Outdoor trash bin lids should fit snugly. If you can store your trash in your garage, you may see fewer flies around your yard.

Clean Up after Pets

Horse flies, like many other insects, are attracted to animal feces. If you have a dog, you will have to clean up your yard more frequently in the summer, or you may have a horse fly problem on your hands.

Burn Candles & Torches

If you're having a backyard barbecue or other outdoor gathering, you can help stop horse flies from attacking your guests by burning citronella candles and lighting torches. The smoke and scent released from the citronella oil can help keep horse flies away.

Kill and Prevent Horse Flies

Treat your lawn, landscape, and the perimeter of your home with Ortho® BugClear™ Insect Killer For Lawns & Landscapes Ready-To-Spray or Ortho® Bugclear™ Insect Killer For Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate to help control horse flies. The formula kills insects within minutes and provides 6 months of control.

To keep horse flies out of your home, make sure there are no tears in your window and door screens, and treat all entry points, like doors and windows, with Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Killer with Extended Reach Comfort Wand®. It kills listed insects on contact and creates a 365-day bug barrier to keep them out. Be sure to follow all label instructions.

Armed with these tips, you can successfully control the horse fly population around your home. For more information on how to deal with biting flies, read How to Combat Biting Flies.