Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Predators, Pestilence, Parasites and Poison Ivy

Ahhhhhh, life in the country...

idyllic, bucolic, peaceful...

filled with breathtaking sunsets, gentle breezes,

predators, pestilence, parasites and Poising Ivy!!

It seems we are always engaged in hand to hand combat 
with some form of pest.
Life would be so much easier if we weren't committed to
farming without the use of chemicals.

Apple scab, Japanese beetles, hornworms, tent caterpillars,
 aphids and others to many to name,
are all unwelcome guests in our gardens.

We are constantly dealing with black flies, deer flies, 
 horseflies, and mosquitos,
not to mention lice,
for the sake of our dear critters.

Although we practice organic farming,
we do resort to medical treatments for parasites in our critters.
We Frontline our dogs and use Heartworm preventative.
We check fecal samples from our horses and goats 
and use anti-helmetics when necessary.

This year, a new parasite has landed on Bee Haven Acres.
The equine Bot fly!

Just the word bot fly sends chills down my spine...
but, these are not the Human botflies 
that are indigenous to the tropics.
Thank God!

This past weekend we had a visit from our dear friends
Ann and Tim...
(they are our friends with that beautiful black Friesian horse
who often visits our farm.)
Well, during that visit, Ann mentioned that the barn
that her horse is boarded in has bot flies.
Bot flies?
That sounded horrible!

Curious, I asked her about them.
And then I did a little research....

Bot flies look a little like a bee, a bit smaller than a honeybee.
What is striking, when you see them flying, 
is how they carry their tail...
hanging down from their abdomen.

Well, these nasty little creatures lay their eggs
on the front legs and chest of the horses.
Here is a picture of some on Red, one of the minis:
They are tiny yellow eggs that you see here on the end 
of hair shafts...no bigger than half the size of a pin head.

The horses, when rubbing their legs with their nose,
will ingest the eggs.
The eggs then travel into the horse's intestines
where they complete their life cycle.
The developing larvae cause irritation and ulceration
of the lining of the intestines.
Unfortunately, they do not test positive in fecal samples until
they complete their life cycle and move out of the
intestines...10 to 12 months later.

Removing the bot eggs is difficult and requires a blade or knife.
Still, it is impossible to tell if you have removed all of them.
So it is recommended that you treat with Ivermectin or something like it
in the fall, after a couple of freezes (freezes get rid of the egg-laying bots).
Consult your vet if you find these tiny yellow eggs.

Personally, this all grosses me out!
But, dealing with these issues is a part of country life.
So we learn to take the good 
bad (shiver)!

Oh, and before I finish, I must tell you what else I have learned...
Always, always, always wash (shower)
immediately after a poison ivy exposure.
I didn't.
Yes, I though I was invincible.
Funny, too, because I have had a new case of poison ivy
every two weeks this summer
(thank you Oakley...who runs through the woods
and brings the oils home on his coat).

This time was different, though.
While pulling weeds, I realized that I might have pulled 
out a poison ivy vine.
Did I shower right away?
Did I get a rash?
Yes...polluted with it!
I cannot show you the rest...but believe me,
I am losing sleep...

There is one question plaguing me, though...


Why do we have all of these predators, pestilence, parasites and poison ivy?


  1. Good question! I wish I know what purpose all those nasty bugs (aphids, squash bugs, fleas, white fly...) serve. And yes, it would be so much easier to just use chemicals, but like you, we try not to.

  2. Why do we have all those things? I believe it's because of the fall of man explained in the book of Genesis when Eve gave in to the serpent. Prior to that everything was perfect.

  3. Oh Beverly, what a bunch of yick you've had to deal with lately. I hope all is better for the horses very soon and your poison ivy rash eases off quickly for you. How miserable.

    I heard that you are not supposed to wash after contacting poison ivy unless it's using ice cold water. I think that may be incorrect, though. I'll have to check. I've been told that hot water actually spreads the oils across your skin... but I would think washing as soon as possible with a good soap would help reduce the spread of the oils. But don't you have to wash as soon as contact is made? I think it's supposed to happen very, very quickly following.

    Hope you're feeling better soon and getting a full night's sleep in no time,


  4. What I don't get is the purpose of some of all of those parasites. We don't live in the country, but we have neighbors close by who have horses, chickens, etc. We can take a short walk to a nearby trail with our dog and the dog would come back covered in ticks.

  5. Ugh! That is some ugly, creepy fly! It just grosses me out to even read about it!
    So sorry, you have had poison ivy so much this summer, I wouldn't even recogize it. Hope it freezes soon so there are none of these nasty pests, to bother you and your farm buddies for awhile.

  6. My heart breaks for your adorable animals.. hoping things return to normal for you very soon... HHL

    P.S. .. no scratching.. XO

  7. Good question Bev! One that I have asked often. I feel your pain and aggravation with the poison ivy. The last time I had a case of poison ivy, it was so bad I had to go to the ER and get shots! We lived in Texas on several acres at the time and we could only surmise that my dog brought it to me or that I unknowingly pulled it out of a plant bed I had been clearing out. I had blisters the size of nickels and quarters! Never want to repeat that experience!

    ~ Tracy

  8. Bev, what a good and informative post. I've heard of these nasty little flies. I saw something on tv about them and didn't even think to look at my jacks. I am going to now!! Thanks so much for sharing. P.S.-I know it's crazy but I get poison ivy all the time. If it really irritates me and I want to scratch it--I pour pure bleach on a rag and put on the break out. It burns like crazy but in a good way. I know that no medical professional would ever recommend this but if you get desperate :)

  9. Sorry about the poison ivy. I hope you'll get some relief soon.
    Bot flies? All I know about are the ones that you see in documentaries about tropical countries. The kind that lay eggs in your skin.....ewww.

  10. I managed to acquire PI several weeks ago..had to be from Mollie..keeps popping up here and there..I don't know where it's coming from but it sure is annoying..I guess it's better than Bot flies???


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