Understand biting black flies

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May 3, 2021

By

May 3, 2021


Dr. Janis Reed, BCE, Technical Services Manager, Product Development Team, Control Solutions Inc.

Dr. Janis Reed, BCE, Technical Services Manager, Product Development Team, Control Solutions Inc.

Ah, spring! There are so many things to celebrate and appreciate this time of year: getting outside, gardening, walking my dog, admiring the wildflowers, and having blood forcibly removed from my body by biting flies.

Wait. Not so much that last one.

When it comes to biting pests, our industry focuses on mosquitoes because they are well known and easy to spot, especially by our customers. But a lesser-known, still-annoying biting pest is the black fly (order Simuliidae). Also called buffalo gnats, these flies use their knife-like mouthparts to slice the skin open and feed on the blood of humans, pets and livestock. Like many biting flies, the level of reaction from a bite can range from almost none to severe.

Black flies are similar in many ways to mosquitoes:

  • They are usually the most active at dusk and dawn.
  • Larvae are aquatic.
  • Females are more attracted to dark colors than light colors.
  • They are less of a problem when wind speeds are moderate to high.

One major difference is that many repellents are not as effective on black flies as they are on mosquitoes. Control measures usually are difficult because black flies can fly more than 10 miles from their breeding areas. Advise customers to wear light-colored clothing that covers most of the skin when black fly activity is high.

About the Author

Dr. Janis Reed, BCE, Technical Services Manager, Control Solutions Inc.

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