Spalding Labs is probably best known for its Fly Predators, a natural alternative to fly sprays and traps that kills flies before they emerge. I started using them after winning a gift certificate for a summer’s worth at the American Eventing Championships some 10 years ago, and so long as I used them I rarely saw a single fly in the barn I was managing at the time. Fixing the problem, rather than just treating the symptom, just made sense. Plus, getting a monthly package of lil baby bugs in the mail always made me giggle.
Last year Spalding introduced another revelatory insect control product: Bye Bye Insects, an essential oil fly spray with performance comparable to popular Pyrethroid Synthetic Chemicals products.
A few years ago, when it began to occur to me that I wasn’t actually the invincible human I believed myself to be in my youth, I began making some changes in my life. Some have been a work in progress, like consistently choosing to eat organic whole foods instead of processed garbage. The rat poison, or whatever it is, in Diet Coke just tastes so good! Others have been easier, like wearing sunscreen and not wading into a mist of toxic pesticides every time I fly sprayed my horse.
I’ve been impressed by one or two natural fly sprays but most of them just aren’t effective. It’s disappointing, the same way you feel when you crack open a can of Zevia soda hoping to get your Coke fix and it’s just … not the same. I’m happy to report that Bye Bye Insects has joined the club.
There’s nothing synthetic in Bye Bye Insects’ active ingredients, which include essential oils of Geraniol, Rosemary, Citronella, Peppermint and Lemongrass. All of which meet EPA’s 25(b) Minimum Risk Requirements — it’s so safe, you can even spray it on yourself to keep away mosquitos! I would describe its smell as “floral-y” sweet, almost citrusy with the citronella and lemongrass notes; I’ve heard other people pick up on the peppermint or rosemary scents. However you would describe it, it’s definitely not unpleasant or chemically like traditional sprays. The essential oils do separate from the aqueous solution, much like oil and vinegar salad dressing, so be sure to give it a good shake before use.
Bye Bye Insects is a concentrate so, if you live in a real insect war zone you can use it full-strength, or you can dilute it to meet your needs. Spalding recommends that, on your first quart spray bottle, use the full strength until half is gone, then refill it with tap water and see if you notice a difference. In their tests, half strength lasts roughly 1-2 hours less than full strength. After you’ve used the first quart ($24.99 + tax) you can refill it from the eco-friendly, stay-fresh three-quart refill pouch ($49.99), instead of buying a whole new bottle. Between the refill pouch and the possibility of dilution, you’re looking at one of the most cost-effective fly sprays out there — diluted to 50% it comes to $8.33 quart.
My only word of caution with this spray is that it can strain grey horses a little yellow-ish, so avoid if you’re trying to keep your horse snow-white.