When it comes to flies, we assume that they are the least harmful insects around us. It is nothing but a misperception. These tiny flying insects, present almost everywhere around us can be problematic, when it comes to certain species like the horse fly. This fly is no different from many other flies around us, but it is not the appearance that merely matters. These flies can cause serious concerns. The result of various researchers reveals that when we talk about the ferocious breeds of flies, this kind of flies tops the list. Their mouth is the primary organ that makes the difference. They are unique because of their cutting and tearing ability.
Horse flies are a real threat to the animals especially the farm animals. They feed on their blood. Unlike the mosquito bite, the horse fly inflicts painful bites with their scissor-like jaws. They usually stay closer to the regions that are rich in the water content and have comparatively higher temperatures. They love staying close to the beaches and the lakes. It is imperative to get rid of them as soon as possible and control the losses caused by them. This eradication is possible only if they are correctly identified. Before considering various methods and ways of checking the risks associated with the horse fly let us see what they look like and how they live.
Table of Contents
- Appearance and Size
- Habitat and Distribution
- Behavior and Habits
- Lifestyle and Diet
- Horse Fly Damages
- Horse Fly Bites
- Top 3 Horse Fly Traps
Appearance and Size
Horse flies have a body with yellowish-brown or blackish appearance. The overall size including the head is 20 to 25 mm. The head is comparatively larger as compared to the head of the common flies while the entire body is covered with hair. With such features, they look more like the honey bees. The only distinction rests in the wings that contrary to honey bees are covered with the ash white spots. Their eyes are fascinating that have a shiny appearance with beautiful metallic shades. The compound eyes of the horse fly are dichoptic in the case of females and holo optic when found in males. The mouth has flesh cutting features that are six in number.
Habitat and Distribution
There are more than 160 different species of the horse flies that are commonly found all over the United States. Their favorite habitats are the humid and warm zones. These places help them grow sufficiently. They prefer to make their nests near the regions that are damp in most parts of the year as such kind of environment is essential for the development of the immature horseflies. Thus, you can conveniently find them near the lakes, ponds, tanks, streams and the creeks.
Behavior and Habits
The male and the female horse flies are entirely distinct from each other in their behavior and habits. The females are more aggressive than the males. They prefer feeding on the blood of the prey. The male horsefly, on the other hand, is comparatively peaceful and harmless. They usually act as the pollinators and the pollen collectors. The process of tracing and locating the prey is a fascinating phenomenon. To catch the prey, they move after the dark objects in motion, and the carbon dioxide discharged from their bodies. To reach the victim, they follow the same pattern as that of the mosquitoes. The chemical and the visual cues both are helpful in figuring out where is the host. When the host releases the carbon dioxide, the horse fly can find him from a larger distance. When the host is closer, it is easier for the horse fly to find it with the help of movements, colors, and shape.
Lifestyle and Diet
The food of the females and the male horseflies is diverse. When the female prefers feeding on the blood, the males would like to have the nectar and pollens as their dietary element. The host blood is essential for the female horsefly to lay the healthy and fertile eggs. The other feeding elements of the males include plant juices, liquid, honeydew and the nectar. The females get enough protein for their reproductive cycle from the blood of the host. When the larvae or the maggots are not well developed, it feeds on the insects that share the habitat.
One the female has consumed enough blood and is ready to lay the eggs; it uses the gravel or the vegetation to do so. The egg laying sites are often close to a water source. Once the eggs are hatched the larvae moves into the nearby moist site that can either be the moist soil or a water reservoir like a pond or stream. The larvae feed on small insects. They are spindle-shaped white creatures. The larvae stay in this stage for almost a year. Once this juncture is over the larvae, make burrows in the soil and transform into pupae. It pupates stage lasts between 6 to 12 days. After the completion of 3 to 10 weeks, the puparium turns into an adult fly.
Horse Fly Damages
1. Painful Bites
The horsefly inflicts extremely painful bites. Once bitten by the horsefly, it can be hurting for the host. The primary cause of this pain is the jaw of the horse fly that is the mandible. The jaws look like the scissor, and they cut deep into the skin. The small hooks in the mandible help the horse fly to lock into the skin of the host. Once the hooks get properly attached the horsefly sucks the blood from the skin of the host. When a horse flies bites, you will feel burning sensation and pain in the bitten area. The aftermath of all this is the itch, inflammation, and swelling. If it is not answered to at the right time, it can transform into a painful bruise.
2. Transmit Diseases
At the early stage of the horse fly bite, the host only feels restless because of the pain. In humans, this is the only problem associated with the horseflies. The major issue rests with the animals. They are not harmful to people’s health. The most affected victims are the horses. Once the horses are bitten, they can suffer from very mild to extremely deadly diseases. The horse fly bite carries a dangerous equine infection that is referred as the swamp fever. It is a kind of anemia. When the horsefly bites a wild equine life, they get infused with the deadliest diseases. These life-threatening diseases include hemorrhaging, fever and the general illness. The symptoms also vary from animal to animal.
3. Impact on Livestock
The horseflies are considered as the life-threatening pests for the livestock especially the horses. They can cause inconvenience for the animals in the farm due to the persistent biting. If an animal is continuous bites for a prolonged time, then the result is weight loss, less milk production, reducing food intake, and punctured wounds in place of the bitten area. The livestock becomes restless and irritable. The adult flies carry viruses, bacteria, protozoan and nematodes that cause serious diseases in the animals.
Horse Fly Bites
- Burning sensation: The horse fly bites are not as dangerous for the human health as they are for the animals especially the livestock. Once the animal is bitten, the animal gets restless because of the burning sensation.
- Swollen bite area: if the bitten area is not treated immediately, it can cause swelling in the affected area.
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing: As the time passes the animal starts choking and finds it difficult to maintain the proper breathing.
- Clean the bitten skin with plain warm water by using cotton wool: Once the horse flies bite signs are evident, take a cotton wool swab, dip it in the warm water and then clean the bitten area thoroughly. This will relax the area relieving the pain to some extent.
- Use a cold compress or ice pack: The pain can be reduced by lowering the temperature of the affected region. Use an ice pack or the cold compress over the region. It relaxes the host as well.
Top 3 Horse Fly Traps
1. H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Control System Traps
The H-trap is one of the latest traps to control the horse fly. It is considered as one of the easiest ways to handle. It is a non-chemical way of dealing with the livestock pests.
- Top advantages
It is the non-chemical remedy against the horse flies. It requires an only soapy solution to get rid of the horse flies. The users have found 95% reduction in the population of the horse flies.
- How to use
Before using the horse flies it is essential to track that from where the pests come and which path they follow. Once you have identified the path now, you can place the trap in their way. By looking at the population, it is essential to find out how many traps are required. Place the traps to clog the path of the horse flies. The H-traps must be put before the adult flies appear in the month of April. Top up the traps with the soapy water. Keep an eye on the traps after every few days to find out if the traps are working properly or not.
If the trap is not getting hold of the horse flies, it is important to place them at a new location.
2. Flies Be Gone – Non-Toxic Fly Trap
It is a blend of non-toxic food elements that act as bait for the flies.
- Top advantages:
It can efficiently work for 4 to 6 weeks and can cover an area of 50 to 100 yards. It does not contain any toxins, poisons, or insecticides. It is more efficient and effective than any other trap as it can get hold of almost 20,000 flies in a go.
- How to use:
The trap comes with a lid. Take off the lid to place the bait into the trap along with a quart of clean water, and some soil. As the cover is placed again, the trap starts working. Hang the trap 5 feet above the ground such that the trap is directly exposed to the sunlight. The sunlight helps in activating the scent from the bait.
If you want to get the effective results, then it is important to place the trap in a location that is exposed to the sunlight well.
3. Tanglefoot 8-Ounce Tangle-Trap
- Top advantages
It is a naturally operating pesticide free trap. You can use it conveniently in the outdoors as well.
- How to use
The sticky substance is smeared on the surfaces of the trees and the plants in the areas close to the population of the horseflies. As the flies will come closer, the flies will stick to it.
If the sticky substance covers your hand, it would be difficult to remove it. Thus it is essential to wear some gloves to stay protected.
Horse fly is not dangerous for the human health or life, but it can be a real hazard for your animals. If you want to help the animals around it is better to get rid of them with the earliest signs appearing. Since the cost of prevention is less than the treatment, therefore we recommend to set traps and stop their invasion in your home or farm house.