You might be thinking what are the little yellow dots at the tip of your horse’s coat in late spring to early winter? They are called horse bots and can be harmful to your horse’s health. Horse bots are fly larvae that are internal parasites to horses. If a horse ingests the bot eggs by licking or biting the area, the larvae will start to burrow in the mucous lining of your horses mouth. After 3-4 weeks, the larvae will run through the stomach and intestines. The larvae will detach from the stomach or small intestine and are passed in the droppings. They will burrow in the surface of the soil for 1-2 months and then become an adult fly.
A big population of bots can cause gastrointestinal disturbance and esophageal paralysis. Be on the look out for pus pockets in your horse’s mouth. This is the first sign that the larvae are migrating in the tongue and gums. Bots can also cause your horse to colic, ulcerations of the stomach, and blockage resulting in a stomach rupture. To control the population, you will need to break the life cycle of the fly. Grooming or clipping the hair may aid in removal of eggs. Consult with a veterinarian about which insecticide would be beneficial for horse bot control. Most effective treatments should be applied 1 month after first sighting of eggs to control the next stage of larvae. For more information look at EDIS publication: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IG136