Kath brings us up to speed on this tiny but tenacious insect.
What on earth are they?
Crab flies are insects that resemble lice by virtue of having grasping front legs with claws. These enable them to hold onto their prey and move around to find the best feeding sites. They can also fly so can spread easily from host to host, and are well armoured with a very tough outer skeleton, making them incredibly hard to get rid of.
What do they do?
They are blood feeders so they pierce the skin, but horses are particularly averse to the way they migrate across their bodies using their pincer-like claws in a sideways movement (hence their name). They migrate towards warm sweaty areas such as the perineum beneath the anus, udders or sheaths. If a horse hasn’t grown up with them and become accustomed like native New Forest ponies, they are an extreme irritation that most horses literally can’t stand. They can become completely unrideable when a crab fly lands on them.
Where do you find them?
Mainly in the New Forest area of parts of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset but they are slowly increasing their geographical range so may become a nuisance in other areas before too long.
How do you get rid of them?
With difficulty. Very few broad-spectrum insect repellents are an effective treatment against them, and they can be difficult to remove, once attached. We are reliably informed that they need to be pulled off and squashed/popped to get rid of them – they are very tenacious.
How we can help
Here at Biteback Products we like a challenge so we have been trialling new repellent formulas hoping to develop something that will keep these kind of insects from landing, attaching and crawling. Our human-grade, incredibly safe SuperFly range includes two active repellent ingredients – Icaridin and Lavandin Oil, which in combination produce a thicker, slicker consistency than other products on the market, making it very difficult for claws to get a grip. Customers in the New Forest trialled the spray and gel in Summer 2021 and reported impressive results – 83% described them as extremely effective and said that they would buy. The spray is ideal for the body and the gel is ideal for the face and the sensitive, sweaty areas.
© May 2022