Do Horseflies Bite Humans?

A Horsefly

Summer is a time for fun, the sun, barbecues, swimming pools, and pests. If that last word alarmed you, you’re not alone. Many know and dread outdoor pests and although the wingless insects are easy to squash, the flying ones aren’t. Many like myself despise flying insects, from disease-carrying mosquitoes to yellow jackets and anything that can buzz into our faces and ruin our day, although none is more dreaded than the Horsefly. Larger than a bumblebee and with the same blood-thirsty appetite as a mosquito the Horsefly is known to cause havoc where summer fun is supposed to reign.

What is a Horsefly? What does it look like?

A Horsefly, in simplest terms, is a fly. In appearance, it resembles a large House fly and has a length that varies from ½ inch to 1 ¼ inch. It has a stout thick body and green eyes, giving it the nickname the “green-eyed monster.” Most horseflies are black, with few varieties having pale stripes than run up their body and wings. While females and males both have strong jaws, the female’s jaws are larger as they are used to suck out blood from their victims, typically horses and livestock which their name derives from.

What does a Horsefly bite look like?

A Horsefly bite is a bit different from those of normal insects and to understand why one needs to first look at their anatomy. Unlike misquotes which use a needle-like sucker to dig into the skin, Horseflies use their scissor-shaped jaws to tear a hole and use small hooks to keep their place firm. This causes a nastier bite and their saliva creates a burning sensation which causes a stinging, burning pain unlike those of other insects. 

As for what it looks like, it’s typically a cut rather than a small bite. Like most insect bites this creates a raised area on the skin known as a wheal or hive, and the skin becomes red and itchy. It’ll be easy to know how to identify the bite unlike mosquitoes who have a slight anesthetic, horseflies do not. If you do get bit, and try to swat at it, it’s almost impossible to miss as it buzzes off given its size and loud buzzing sound.

What causes a Horsefly to bite?

Female horseflies typically bite to suck blood as it requires a protein-based meal for breeding purposes. Consuming blood and its various proteins help them to create fertilized eggs. Male horseflies do not do this as they don’t produce eggs, thus they drink nectar and are fairly harmless. July is typically their mating season and thus the females can get a bit more aggressive around that time.

How do you treat a bite?

Although Horseflies can be typically avoided their bites can prove to be quite painful. The first step to treating a bite is to rinse it under warm water and scrub the area with a gentle cleanser. Next, apply any over-the-counter ointments or antiseptic sprays as this helps to fight infection and itchiness, as well as irritation. A cold compress can be used to treat the pain and swelling, reducing the redness for later on. The best solution however is to not itch it as itching will only increase the likelihood of infection and create a longer healing time, leaving you with an ugly red bump.

In the majority of cases Horsefly bites will heal naturally within a few days but difficulties can occur. Excessive pus or a foul odor occurring at the wound site is a sign of infection and needs to be treated by a doctor. Immediate medical attention is needed if one experiences difficulty breathing, a rash, as well as swelling of the hands, lips, feet, or throat as these could potentially be signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction. If the wound doesn’t heal within a week and you experience dizziness or worsening pain, seek medical help and they will advise you on what to do from there.

How to Prevent Horseflies

While horseflies may be bothersome, there are ways to avoid them. For starters avoiding the places where the flies are most active is an important step, as areas like valley pastures or streams can be breeding grounds for horseflies and typically covered in them. Another way is to keep them from your space entirely by building window and door screens. These not only keep out horseflies but other pests as well, proving to be a good investment. Doing basic yard maintenance like clearing piles of rubbish and decaying organic matter can help as well as that will deter flies and horseflies alike. Not only that but it keeps your garden pristine which is certainly a summer win.

An even more practical preventative measure is to simply cover up. Light-colored clothes and long-sleeved shirts and pants will create large areas of cover and thus leave fewer spots for horseflies to attack. Excluding jewelry and deploying deodorant during the summer months may help as horseflies are attracted to shiny objects and sweat. They are attracted to warmth and the releasing of CO2, but those can’t necessarily be helped. A typical bug spray can be used as well, and they can be used to cover what spots the preventative clothing didn’t hide, securing your defensive summer shield.

The Ultimate Horsefly solution

Despite there being many solutions on how to stop horseflies they can’t prepare you for everything. You can’t always cover up and you can’t always avoid their hunting grounds and they will bite despite your best efforts. Horseflies are notorious as they’re more persistent than the average insect. Even if you run from them or swat at them horseflies will continue to try to bite and may even bite a second time if they didn’t eat enough the first. With this in mind it’s better to call a professional to handle them, a professional like TermiGuard.

TermiGuard has provided quality pest control aimed at protecting clients from summertime pests. With their simple, affordable monthly plan TermiGuard will send out their finest to get your property regularly sprayed, ensuring not only the prevention of horseflies but protection from them as well. By setting up an appointment and learning about their amazing offers, you can ensure a happy, Horsefly-free summer and most important of all, peace of mind.