How To Get Rid Of Horseflies Around The Swimming Pool

Summer is here, and the weather is heating up. For many families, including my own, this means hitting the backyard pool and cooling off.

But, unfortunately, that pool can also be a tempting hangout for unwanted guests…horseflies.

You may have asked yourself how to get rid of these pesky visitors around your pool. You’re not alone, as horseflies are global pests found in all corners of the world. 

Fortunately, you’ll be pleased to know that there are various options for eliminating horseflies around your pool. The most effective methods include a combination of insecticides, flypaper, and traps. In this article, we’ll explore each option to help you figure out the best one for you and your family, as well as ways to help naturally prevent the problem in the first place. 

What Is A Horsefly?

Before we dive in, let’s discuss what exactly a horsefly is and how these pests differ from a regular housefly.  

Horseflies are larger and tend to be much more aggressive than the average housefly.


They measure about 1 1/4 inch in length with a large head, green eyes, and are black, gray, or brown in color.

Horseflies are members of the Tabanidae family, which includes up to 4,000 species found throughout the globe.

Some people know them more commonly as deerflies, gadflies, or clegs. 

The tiny vampires tend to be attracted to livestock, manure, compost, standing water, and swimming pools.

Often found in more rural, countryside areas, but they can invade your home too. Horseflies are more common in hot, humid areas. 

The female horseflies have strong mandibles that they use for biting and feeding on the blood of animals and humans.

The females seek out blood meals for nourishment that they need to lay their eggs. 

Are Horseflies Dangerous?

Horsefly bites can be incredibly painful, itchy, and can swell and become infected if not treated properly. If a horsefly bite becomes infected, the individual may need antibiotics. 

If you experience a horsefly bite, keep the area clean and often wash with soap and water to prevent infection.

Use a cold compress or ice to reduce any swelling and avoid itching as much as possible, as this could increase your risk.

Look out for signs that your bite has become infected, such as excess pus or a foul odor. In rare cases, an allergic reaction could occur.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, or a spreading rash. 

Horseflies can be more than a nuisance for horses and can carry a life-threatening disease called equine infectious anemia or swamp fever.

If you’re a horse owner, seek help immediately if your horse displays signs of EIA, such as fever, hemorrhaging, or weakness.

Horses that don’t show any symptoms can also spread the disease to other horses. 

Why Are Horseflies Attracted to Swimming Pools? 

The reason behind why horseflies are attracted to swimming pools may surprise you.

It turns out horseflies are polarotactic insects, meaning they are attracted to linearly polarized light such as the reflection off of your pool’s surface. 

Female horseflies like to lay their eggs close to a water source in nearby plants or mud.

The plants can also provide a place for them to rest while waiting for a host animal to come to drink, bathe, or swim in the water source (aka your pool!)

Getting Rid of Horseflies Around Your Pool

Below are some of the most effective ways to rid your pool area of horseflies while keeping your family safe. 

Flytraps are a popular insecticide-free way to trap and kill horseflies. Most fly traps on the market are safe to use around kids, pets, and your food. 

Bag Traps

Bag traps are a type of flytrap that uses non-toxic bait to attract the flies inside the bag. Once inside, the horseflies will suffocate.

Because the bait can give off a pungent and unpleasant odor, you might want to hang the traps a reasonable distance from your pool.

Light Traps

Yet another kind of flytrap is the light trap. The flies become attracted to the light given out by the trap.

Insect Light Trap

The light from the trap will zap the flies, instantly killing them in most cases. Electricity powers the light traps, so it’s a good idea to hang them at a distance from the pool to keep them from getting splashed. 

Horsefly Trap

A standard horsefly trap is a trap with moving parts with metal materials that attract horseflies using bait inside or a ball that heats in the sun—the traps work when the fly mistakes the heat coming off the ball for their next host.

As a result, the horsefly will become trapped between the parts and killed by the heat. For this reason, it’s a good idea to hang these traps in an area that receives a lot of sunlight to boost their effectiveness. 


Many insecticides have proven to be effective in the elimination and control of horseflies. Therefore, you can use insecticides in addition to the other methods mentioned. 

Many natural insecticides on the market are safe to use around your pool, animals, and children.

Apply insecticides around the immediate pool area, including plants and shrubs, to deter fly activity. Insecticides are also helpful around your home’s windows, doors and walkways. 

Fly Paper

Flypaper is a sticky strip that you can unravel and hang around your pool area or wherever you see horsefly activity.

When insects come in contact with the strip, they get stuck to the paper and meet their demise. 

Make sure to replace the paper when it gets dirty or crowded with bugs, and hang them in an area without a lot of foot traffic. The last thing you want is one of your guests walking into it!

Fly Paper Trap

How To Make A DIY Fly Trap

It’s also possible to build a functional fly trap out of items you already have around the house.

A DIY flytrap is a great natural solution, especially if children are playing close by. To start, you will need: 

  • a 2-liter clean and empty soda bottle
  • Fly bait 
  • String or wire for hanging
  • Serrated knife
  • Sharpie or permanent marker
  • Cutting board
  • Hole punch

Step 1. Mark The Bottle

Using your sharpie, you will mark a line just at the bottom of the neck of the bottle. 

Step 2: Cut The Bottle

Place the bottle on its side on top of a cutting board. Then, using a serrated knife, cut the bottle through along the line, separating the top of the bottle from the bottom. 

Step 3: Assemble Your Horsefly Trap

Remove the cap, then flip the top of the bottle upside down. You will then slide it into place on the bottom of the bottle, creating a funnel-like entry for the flies. If you notice any gaps, you can secure them with tape or glue. 

Step 4: Place Bait At The Bottom Of The Trap

You will need to decide what type of bait you would like to use. Keep in mind that this will be in a common area around your home, so you don’t want to use anything too smelly, but it does need to be pungent enough to attract the flies. 

Some good options for bait are slightly overripe fruit or a 50/50 water mixture.

Replace the sugar with honey or maple syrup to create a stickier mixture that the flies will stick to easily. Add a splash of vinegar if you would like to keep the bees out. 

Step 5: Create a Hanger for Your Flytrap

Using your hole punch, punch a hole on each side of the top and thread your string or wire through, tie or bend the ends and securely hang close to your pool area. 

You can also use a DIY flytrap indoors for a fly or gnat problem. Make sure to empty the trap regularly and refresh your bait.

Ensure the inside is cleaned thoroughly of any larvae by washing with hot water and soap. 

How To Prevent Horseflies From Investing Your Pool

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So preventing horseflies from infesting your pool area in the first place can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Below are some tried and true prevention strategies that don’t involve the use of harmful chemicals. 

Keep Lawn and Plants Maintained

Since horseflies are attracted to damp grass and plants, it’s a good idea to keep them well maintained so horseflies don’t seek refuge in these areas and around your pool. 

Mow grass regularly and make sure that you pull any excess weeds to make the area less desirable for these biting pests. 

Make Sure Your Pool Area is Clean

Always pick up trash and any leftover food from around your pool area.

Since horseflies are attracted to decomposing food, it’s essential to make sure to remove anything that might draw them to the site. Also, keep trash bins at a distance from the pool and covered. 

Use A Pool Cover

When your pool is not in use, cover it with a pool cover to keep flies from being attracted to the reflection of the water and laying eggs around it. 

Use Citronella

When you have guests over to your pool, it’s a good idea to burn citronella candles or burn citronella oil in lamps to deter horseflies from invading the area.

It works by overwhelming the fly’s senses, so they are unable to smell what attracts them. Topical citronella is also available for the skin and can work up to 1-2 hours.

Citronella is excellent because it’s non-toxic, inexpensive, and easy to find. As a bonus, it also works as an effective deterrent to mosquitos during those hot summer months. 

Carnivorous Plants

Perhaps a less conventional method is planting carnivorous plants around your pool (think a venus fly trap).

Although these won’t necessarily work quickly, they can be a long-term solution to reduce your horsefly problem. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, all is not lost in managing and preventing horseflies around your pool, and there are plenty of safe and natural solutions out there. 

Depending on the severity of your horsefly problem you can try these solutions independently or in combination with one another while keeping yourself, your kids, and your pets safe.

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