Is there such a thing as an effective fly repellent for humans?

LHIS

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Yesterday evening I acquired my first 2 horse fly bites. I am apparently an irresistible snack. I have tried all sorts, citronella bands, covering myself in various sprays, but with no luck.
Last year at its worst my husband counted 32 on my body at one time. It was horrible and after visiting a pharmacy to buy more anti histamines they sent me to the doctors who then sent me to hospital because they were concerned about the reaction I was having (I puffed up like a puffa fish 🤕).

I would love to find something that can put them off me! Please help 😩 I'm dreading going to the yard today knowing I'm going to be eaten alive.
 

rowan666

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Take a trip to your nearest camping store, there's a whole host of human fly/midge/mosquito repelant from sprays to roll ons!
 

Mad_Cow347

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Boots and the supermarkets do insect repellent sprays in various strengths. Boots own tropical strength worked brilliantly in Croatia last year, the only day I got bitten was the day I forgot to put it on!
 

Shay

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DEET. (And no I'm not shouting - its full name is N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide.)

However - in high concentrations and for long periods is is quite toxic. Don't apply to broken skin or under clothes. It also smells horrible! Most over the counter repellants will have DEET to some extent -you need to pick one with a high enough concentration to be effective for you and use it carefully. A Pharmacist should be able to assist.
 

PollyP99

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I read somewhere that horseflies don't hunt by scent so nothing smelly is effective. I managed a hack without any by using pig oil on my mare, just on the bite they land on, if they can't land they can't bite I figure. So the suggestion of Avon so soft is probably a good one, make yourself a slick landing pad with some kind of oil and it might just work!
 

LHIS

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I read somewhere that horseflies don't hunt by scent so nothing smelly is effective. I managed a hack without any by using pig oil on my mare, just on the bite they land on, if they can't land they can't bite I figure. So the suggestion of Avon so soft is probably a good one, make yourself a slick landing pad with some kind of oil and it might just work!
Ahh ok, so I wonder what it is about me that makes me more appealing than others? I am a tasty snack for midges too but they're guided by scent. If horse flies bite by sight I wonder if dark/ light coloured clothing has any bearing?
I have some of that Avon skin so soft, I'll smother myself in that and report back later. I've considered maybe buying some baggy trackie bottoms too and wearing those for riding over the next few weeks when they seem to be at their worst as I don't think the skin tight riding tights I wear help. If it's not touching my skin then they can't bite me?
 

DJ

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If horse flies bite by sight I wonder if dark/ light coloured clothing has any bearing?
I`ve had 2 dark horses that were hounded by them, so yes I think a block of dark colour is more attractive to them. I used the zebra fly rugs and saw a huge difference for my 2 black horses. So maybe wearing something lighter or with stripes may help?
 

Mrs G

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Horseflies get me thru clothing, even thick jodhpurs. For other midges/biting flies though I have found Jungle Formula from Boots is VERY effective x
 

npage123

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I've heard a rumour that mosquitoes bites you or don't bite you depending on the temperature of your blood. My Mum rarely gets bitten as she's of a very slight build and always feeling cold, whereas my Dad who usually feels warm, is a real target for mosquitoes. Can't say if all of this is true but in our family the theory works. (Just a note - my parents live in South Africa.) Maybe the horseflies, moggies, deerflies etc also prefer certain blood temperatures of ever blood groups??
 

TheOldTrout

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I saw a leaflet at the health centre which said mosquitoes bite everyone, but not everyone has a reaction to the bite. (Didn't keep the leaflet so can't say more than that!) As an aromatherapist, I'd suggest lemongrass essential oil as an insect repellent - it's also good for acheing muscles. Not to be used neat on the skin, add a few drops to another oil - grapeseed or sunflower - then coat yourself in that.
 

LHIS

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I`ve had 2 dark horses that were hounded by them, so yes I think a block of dark colour is more attractive to them. I used the zebra fly rugs and saw a huge difference for my 2 black horses. So maybe wearing something lighter or with stripes may help?
I will try this, though will have to buy some pale breeches as everything I own for riding is black or a dark colour. I'm about to buy my pony one of the zebra fly rugs to see if that helps him too.

I covered myself in the Avon skin so soft dry oil spray this morning and went to the yard for 3 hours, including walking up and down the lane to the field which is where most of the bites occur (I think because it's lush greenery and a coppice with a stream in it so they hang around there), and I am currently fly bite free (apart from the existing ones). I kept my baggy jumper on despite it being a humid 22c! Going back to ride later once it cools down a bit.
 

dollyanna

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Have a look at Biteback Flies Undone - BB products contain icaridin which has some effectiveness against horseflies despite the fact that they hunt by sight, and their other products are fab so I am giving this a go in a couple of weeks - I get eaten alive in Russia and react with foot diameter welts all over so am always keen to find a cure! Icaridin is somewhat safer than Deet and won't melt your sunglasses :)
 

criso

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Have a look at Biteback Flies Undone - BB products contain icaridin )
Just googled that and Icaridin is also sold under the trade name Saltidin. That's in the Red horse one which they were selling as fly spray last year but have had to change the name to coat spray for some reason. Mine is too sensitive for DEET and I use it however it doesn't work on horse flies. I get bitten when I'm with the horses so I assume they are initially attracted to big bay horse and once they get there bite me too.
 

Abi90

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I once heard that if you eat marmite you don't get bitten as much. Apparently the flies can smell it on you and don't like it. So, if you like marmite it wouldn't hurt to eat lots of it!

Otherwise all the previous suggestions sound good!
 

Mrs G

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I once heard that if you eat marmite you don't get bitten as much. Apparently the flies can smell it on you and don't like it. So, if you like marmite it wouldn't hurt to eat lots of it!

Otherwise all the previous suggestions sound good!
I have loved marmite all my life; as a fussy eating kid it was practically what I lived on (marmite sarnies washed down with nesquick milkshake, yum). It never, ever stopped me getting bitten! We'd come back off holiday and my sister would be brown as a nut, and I'd follow on behind white as milk with odd patches of sunburn, a bit of prickly heat and COVERED in so many fly bites I looked like I had chickenpox.
 

Ownedby4horses

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Avon skin so soft works for me. Obviously its an oil based spray so be careful in the sun (i made the mistake once!). Im like an all you can eat buffet for everything and hubby said its great as he never needs to pit anything on himself as all he needs to do is take me everywhere eith him 😂. I did once get covered in overspray of Phaser Power Spray and hacked out and that really worked but i definitely wouldnt recommend it!
 

holeymoley

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I’m pretty sure it’s about how your body reacts to the bite. Mine goes in to overdrive. Currently have cellulitis on my leg due to cleg bite. I never used to be this bad, they would be super itchy but it just seems to be in the last few years my body has really suffered with them and it’s turned to cellulitis.
 

2ndtimearound

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I‘m sure that for some insects there is some chemical in their bites that attracts others, so if you get bitten once, it will attract more. I’m fortunate that I don’t often get bitten, but I had an incident last year when I did pretty badly.
I was out riding one Saturday wearing quite thin riding tights and I’d forgotten to spray Skin so Soft on my legs underneath them, and I ended up with a dozen small bites on my thighs (I had no bites on my bare arms that I had sprayed liberally). The next time I rode (the following Saturday; I ride at a trekking centre), I made sure I was drowned in Skin so Soft (including under my clothes) and wore lighter coloured riding tights, but the bites on my legs hadn’t completely healed, and I’m sure the old bites attracted the same insects, as I got seriously badly bitten on my legs and reacted to them (I’d not done with the first few). My legs looked like I had some sort of Medieval plague! Again, I had zero bites on my bare arms (or anywhere else).
I decided not to ride again until after my legs had completely healed, and I didn’t get bitten again.
I have just stocked up on Skin so Soft to make sure it doesn’t happen again (once the trekking centre is open again)!
 

Amirah

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Have you tried the midge tops and trousers? I got mine from purple turtle (I think that's the name) or Ebay. It's very fine mesh that sort of blouses away from your skin, I buy them way too big for extra "blousing". Once you have been bitten after bite xtra gel is very good. I'm another that reacts badly while hubby gets off scott free. The horses have zebra fly rugs and ride on rugs which definitely helps confuse them.
 

Boulty

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Only thing I've found that vaguely works is jungle formula if sprayed on clothing as well as skin. Absolutely stinks though! If bitten I've found cleaning with antiseptic ASAP & then using steroid cream the best thing but I still get really bad reactions that take weeks / sometimes up to a month to go away
 

PurBee

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I`ve had 2 dark horses that were hounded by them, so yes I think a block of dark colour is more attractive to them. I used the zebra fly rugs and saw a huge difference for my 2 black horses. So maybe wearing something lighter or with stripes may help?
i second this - my black mare is hounded by them, while the speckled grey gelding is far less attractive to them.

when im out in the fields and wear black im hounded by horse flies. If i wear light colours they harrass me less.

A study showed that black/white stripes confuse the vision/eyes of horseflies, so they keep away.
This caused me to buy zebra print leggings to do strimming work in! Oh they are sooooo tacky but thankfully no-one sees me!!

I once chalked zebra lines on my black mare! It took ages and lasted just the day before she rolled it off..Wish i could find some skin/fur safe paint that would last a week or 2...

So try light colours, with a pattern, of various light pastel colours....doesnt have to be zebra print.
Wear looser clothing too - ive had them bite through denim skin tight jeans. jodhpurs and the like are tight fitting so i imagine theyd bite through them.

I feel for you, the bites i get also would puff up hugely and cellulitis occurs sometimes with symptoms of nausea and exhaustion.
I havent been so badly affected in recent years when bitten and the only thing ive done is take fairly regularly supplements for my immune system - selenium, vit c, vit E, vit D3 (test showed very deficient) and omega 3 anti-inflammatory Aswell as a b-complex multi vitamin.
I think these have helped my immune system not to over-react to bites. midges swarm this place this time of year and i dont react to their bites anymore either.

I never did discover a non-toxic fly spray that worked for horseflies and midges beyond an hour after application.

Preventatively, the horseflies here dont like the shade. They thrive in sunlight and the horses know this so when hounded they find shade by trees or in their stable, and then graze out when its cloudy or at night. So try to keep in the shade at the barn, see if you find they harrass you less?

The month of june here is the worst for them. By august there’s far fewer of them so it wont be long before theyre gone!
 

TPO

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Pro-Equine do a human spray. Its neem based and it worked for me. I got a couple of bottles for a works colleagues wife as she is really allergic to bites too and they worked for her.

As an aside I just bought some Bite Back spray for the horses so hope its effective 🤞🏻
 

FinnishLapphund

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Put some pieces of fresh parsley in your bra.
Anything out to suck blood seems to love me, and fresh parsley seems to deter most of them, except ticks, the only thing that really helps with them seems to be garlic.
 
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