It is well known that Culicoides midges are the transmitters of African Horse Sickness. These midges feed at night. In general we do not spend time with our horses at night and therefore are unaware of the level of irritation that is caused by midges seeking a blood meal.
Recently the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries produced a video to show the level of irritation caused by a specific midge that occurs along the Orange River called Simulium.
This midge is similar to Culicoides, however, it is a day-biting midge. Look at the video to see the level of irritation caused by horses, cattle, sheep, goats and game. Is this what occurs with your horse each night?
This video highlights the level of irritation caused by blood sucking midges, when they feed on animals. The particular midge alongside the Orange River is not the same one that transmit African Horse Sickness, but it is a day-biting midge which allows us to video animals and to show the level of irritation caused by midges. We are drawing this to people's attention to highlight the situation that occurs at night - when the midge that transmits African Horse Sickness is active and seeking a blood meal. We are rapidly approaching the season when midges will have increased in number, and become as irritant as is seen in this video.
In order to try and assist horse owners, we have several options that are available to them. Last year we introduced the Fly/Mosquito Sheet which is a horse blanket that includes a section that covers the neck of horses (this is on the website under the link - Ectoparasites). The AHS midges bite predominantly on the neck and topline of horses. Thus if this Stride Fly/Mosquito Sheet is treated with the D- fend Wettable Powder, this will provide a substantial measure of protection from midges to any horse that has this blanket attached to it.
The other product that definitely can be used is Equiworld Fly Repellent for Horses and Dogs because this product has claims for treatment of houseflies, stable flies and that it kills ticks and mosquitoes. The laboratory trials that are conducted to prove whether an insect repellent is effective against mosquitoes is the only laboratory trial that can be conducted to show efficacy against this type of blood sucking parasite, which is similar to the AHS midges.
Our product provides 24 hours protection. This will mean that if people are going to rely on treatment of their horses, they will need to use Equiworld Fly Repellent on a daily basis during the season when the midges are at their worst. If this treatment is combined with a Fly/Mosquito Sheet, then there is only a requirement to treat those areas which are not covered by the blanket, which will in particular - be the head (use a sponge or cloth with Equiworld Fly Repellent on it to treat this area) and spray the bottom line and legs of the horse with Equiworld Fly Repellent.