What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Biting Midges, Bothering or Biting Horse


Biting midges (aka no-see-ums) are tiny gnats that can be more than a mere annoyance for horses. They are active during the warmer months, they favor areas close to water, and are most active at dusk and dawn. They are blood-suckers and they inflict painful bites usually on a horse’s top line, belly or tail area.

In severe cases, these insects can cause severe irritation or an allergic response.

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your role


What To Do

Inspect your horse’s top line, ears, belly and tail base area for evidence of this problem. If your horse’s skin looks inflamed in these areas (hair loss, dandruff, dermatitis, sores, redness, swelling), or your horse appears greatly bothered by these insects (itching, off feed, excessively anxious or upset), contact your vet with your findings and concerns. Treatment may be required.

Prevention is the best approach to dealing with this problem. Enclose horses in stalls at night and consider using fine mosquito mesh netting over windows, if practical. Use fans to blow air through stalls. Use insect repellents and blanket your horse at night.

your vet's role

Your vet understands parasite and insect biology and can help you manage your equines in a way that reduces exposure to these highly irritating pests.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Where, geographically, does the horse live?
  • How are you managing the problem now?
  • Are you seeing itchiness (rubbing or scratching)?
  • Are you seeing hair loss or hives?
  • Is this a new problem?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Is the horse stabled near water?
  • Are all of the horses at the facility affected?
  • How are your horses responding to your treatment or management?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP