• Sweet Itch caused by Gnats



    Sweet Itch photo from Lingfield Equine Vets


    “Sweet itch in horses, ponies and donkeys is an allergic response to the saliva in the bite of the Culicoides midge (gnat, no-see-um, punky) and to a lesser degree the black fly(Simulium Equinum),  horn fly and stable fly which gives rise to intense itching” says Stephen Ashdown.


    Recently, one of our customers  found HorseFlyNet® on a Google search when she was desperately trying to find a method of keeping one of her ponies suffering from sweet itch protected from Gnats.   Gnats do not bite humans but do bite horses, ponies and donkeys.  They will travel as far as half a mile away from their swampy breeding ground and prefer to feed on the skin around the tail head and crest of the horse.  If a horse has an allergy to the bite the itchy reaction may take two days to develop. That skin reaction to the gnat bite is called sweet itch.



    Ridding a stable of compost buckets standing water or rotting fruit will not be enough to eliminate Gnats.  Gnats have a life span of 4 months and females can produce 300 eggs in small batches in decaying organic matter.  And, gnats are drawn to light so that is one reason to shade your horses space  in summer months with Horse Fly Nets.

    Sweet itch in horses who are already sensitized and will experience an allergy  reaction that lasts for weeks even after only a few Gnat bites. Management of sweet itch focuses on symptomatic treatment sadly as of 2013 there is no cure.  The inflammation may be reduced with corticosteroid creams and injection.  Some horses will respond to heaping teaspoons of aspirin powder.

    Repellents are another challenge.  Sprays do not work. Garlic in the feed, Skin So Soft lotion and baby oil rubbed on the sensitive area may deter the bites. Baby oil puts a barrier up where the Gnats can’t seem to get a grip on the horse to feed. But to protect all of the areas of the horse and to create a shady barrier it is most practical to install nets in a barn and give a horse an escape from all biting creatures.


    Even an open run-in-shed can provide lots of protection with a HorseFlyNet®