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INSECTICIDES AND MIDGE REPELLENTS FOR SWEET ITCH

These fall into two groups:

(a) Home Made & Natural Repellents

Apart from in-feed repellents for Sweet Itch - eg garlic and apple cider vinegar - there are skin-applied repellents.

Apple cider vinegar may be applied externally too as a wipe or spray but avoid using on open lesions which will sting your horse.

'Beryl' in The Herbal Horse suggests 30ml per day internally as well as a rinse externally - 2 tablespoons in a litre of water. Angela Calvert in the Farmer's Guardian article - Coping with Sweet Itch - suggests a cup of apple cider vinegar should be added to the horse's water tank.

Other natural home-made repellents include
Citronella, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Tea Tree and Sandalwood. Here is a Citronella recipe at Horse Data which has Citronella, meths, washing up liquid, vinegar and tea.

Please remember natural products can engender allergic responses just like chemicals. So do a 'patch test' on your horse before using. Most natural repellents compare poorly with Saltidin/Picaridin - based repellents and DEET for effectiveness over time and need re-applying every few hours.

Amazon Books Review of Tamsin Pickeral's 'Budget Horse and Pony Care'..."I think the recipes provided for fly repellents, shampoos and horse treats are well worth trying.."

(b) Manaufactured Chemicals & Products for Sweet Itch like DEET,Picaridin/Saltidin, Benzyl Benzoate and Avon Skin So Soft.

SALTIDIN, PICARIDIN, BAYREPEL, KBR3023 - ALL THE SAME CHEMICAL - VERY CONFUSING TO THE LAYMAN.
Saltidin aka Picaridin is an effective alternative to DEET in equivalent concentrations. DEET has been around for 40 years whilst Saltidin/Picaridin at 20% concentration has been available in Europe since 1997 and in the USA from 2008 .

It is not toxic, doesn't dissolve plastic eg. your sunglasses or nail varnish, like DEET, is not an irritant and is odourless, with a light clean feel.

Saltidin/Picaridin is the active ingredient in Natrapel 8, a repellent for human use in the USA which claims effectiveness for up to 8 hrs. Likewise S.C.Johnson's Autan Active, & Smidge - a UK product not registered yet for use with horses, and Centaura made in Germany and registered for humans and horses. Details at www.boehringer-ingelheim.com The product isavailable from Equitop. A claim of protecton between 8-24 hrs is made, but the concentration isn't mentioned but thought to be 20% like the others mentioned above.

Supplier of Autan in UK, picture right
www.purpleturtle.co.uk

Editor's comment: this claim needs investigating. Protection against midges for up to 24 hrs would be a real game-changer for a competely non-toxic product. Please see Tri-tec 14 reviewed below which claims an even longer protection period.

Other names which crop up with Saltidin-based repellents are Effol Blocker (15%& 5 hr protection), Clac Fliegenschultz, Aura, Renons and Fly Away Pads - all horse applications, according to Alan Smith of Lanxess.

PICARIDIN IN THE USA
Here is an excerpt from Barb Ogg PhD, University of Nebraska's What's the Scoop on Insect Repellents:-

"Picaridin-based repellents have been available in Europe, Australia, Latin America and Asia for many years, and were introduced into the U.S. market in 2005. Some products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced™ Insect Repellent (7%), Cutter Advanced Sport™ (15%), Avon Skin-So-Soft™ Bug Guard Plus Picaridin (10%), Goready Insect Repellent™ (20%), Off Family Care Insect Repellent™ (10%) and Walgreens Light and Clean Insect Repellent™ (7%). In addition to mosquitoes, picaridin was tested in lab and field studies and found to be effective against biting flies and ticks." More from his 2008 article here. Also Sawer Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin.

DEET.
An insect repellent DEET is very effective for Sweet Itch midges in concentrated form but toxic. Horse products in the UK permitted to include DEET cannot exceed a concentration of 20%, and often have less, thus reducing its efficacy ie making it relatively short acting. The toxic nature of DEET with the risk of horses absorbing it through the skin and ingesting it in mutual grooming persuades many horse owners to pursue less risky options.

BENZYL BENZOATE
An anti-parasitic insecticide used as a preventative for Sweet Itch. It stings in full concentration so should be diluted with water to 50:50 or even to as little a 1:5. Some horses respond badly to Benzyl Benzoate. It is a skin irritant and shouldn't be used near lesions or where there is hair loss. Best applied early in the season as a preventative action before symptoms occur. Use gloves. Available in proprietary formulas eg. Killitch, suitable for horses.

AVON SKIN SO SOFT
Suggest you dilute 50:50 with water and apply a mist, but wipe around eyes. Owners often use Avon Skin So Soft on those parts of the horse which remain exposed even when wearing a Sweet Itch blanket eg.the sheath/udder. Ideas on how best to use Avon Skin So Soft as a fly repellent for horses is in Yahoo Associated Content here. Don't forget to patch test your horse before applying .Avon Skin So Soft is also available with Picaridin. Click here.

PYRETHRIN - CYPERMETHRIN IN TRI-TEC14
Tri-tec14 from Farnam in the USA is now licensed for use with horses in the UK - license No HSE9215. This is an insecticide and repellent which may be sprayed on to your horse but wiped around the eyes. Long lasting - up to several days under ideal conditions - it has a good track record in the USA Use gloves if hand applied. Good also for dealing with other horse flies, stable flies, mosquitos and crab flies. Although considered low risk to humans and horses we'd advise caution in its use. Professor White says between 20% and 30% of problem horses she sees have an sllergic response to pyrethrins. Don't forget to 'patch test'.

HERBAL PRODUCTS
Some proprietary herbal mixes seek to act as in-feed fly repellents only, whereas others combine itch-soothing properties too.

TO VISIT OUR SPONSOR GLOBAL HERBS click here. Rules and regulations surrounding the sale of herbal products for horses do not permit them being showcased explicitly with diseases. Please email the company for a colour brochure, giving full name and postal address, or visit the website www.globalherbs.co.uk
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Neem Oil as an Insecticide: Review on The Shire Horse Forum by 'Tracey'. Click here. This a long and an excellent overview. Recommended. Neem Oil is also a natural insect repellent. See also our Horse Care Regime here.

NEW MIDGE REPELLENT UNDER DEVELOPMENT COULD BRING RELIEF TO HORSES WITH SWEET ITCH AS WELL AS PEOPLE.
Reaearch work carried out at the University of Aberdeen under the direction of retired Professor Jenny Mordue is now leading to a new, excting midge repellent which could be available by 2012. Unlike every other repellent which works only when the midge lands on skin, the new repellent pushes the midges away.

As midges fly between 3 and 12 feet from the ground and are more concentrated at the top of their flight path tall people get bitten more than small. Larger women who give of a higher mount of attractants, and sweaty people, are more likely to be attacked by midges. Picture source: imarsman Flickr

In the Aberdeen study on athletes about 10% didn't get bitten at all because they produced two chemicals geranylacetone and methylheptonone. The new repellent is based on these two chemicals and will be produced in various forms from cream to sprays.

Products devised for use by humans - and not always for the use intended, like Avon Skin So Soft - have proved beneficial for horses similarly afflicted by midges. Let's hope the repellent is both effective, long lasting and suitable for horses too.

LINKS
Insect Traps in Spain - trap midges, mosquitoes and other biting and blood feeding insects
www.insectsaway.com

For more on The Culicoides Midge read this.

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