Horseflies are unwelcome guests in any situation. Unlike other flies, which are pesky but often harmless, horseflies can inflict painful bites. If you've ever felt a sharp pinch and seen a fly buzzing away, you likely encountered this type of insect. Learn more about what horseflies are and what you can do to escape them.

What Are Horseflies?

Image via Flickr by smkybear

Horseflies are blood-sucking insects that will give you a painful bite. Though they may look similar to ordinary houseflies at first glance, there's a big distinction between these two pests. Once you've suffered the bite of a horsefly, you'll probably be ready to tackle the task of extermination. This unwanted pest is a major nuisance in or around the home.

What Do Horseflies Look Like?

Horseflies are large flies that can measure over an inch in length. They're black to dark brown in color with bright eyes that are typically black, purple, or green. Their wings can be transparent or solid-colored. They have stout bodies, six legs, two wings, and antennae. Their overall appearance is similar to the housefly only much larger, and in some cases, they are more colorful. Due to their size, they're sometimes mistaken for bees before given a closer examination.

Though you probably won't have the chance to examine their mouths closely, female horseflies have six sharp mouth parts here that are made for cutting and tearing. This is what they use to deliver the painful bites they're so notorious for. Not all horseflies will bite people, however. Male horseflies lack these vicious mouthparts and only collect pollen.

Female horseflies need blood from their prey to get the necessary nutrients to reproduce. Unlike mosquitoes, which pierce the skin delicately and suck out the blood, horseflies pierce the flesh and tear open a wound that they can lap blood from. They will bite their host multiple times if needed until they have gotten their fill of blood.

Where Do Horseflies Live?

Horseflies can be found in many parts of the United States, though they present the biggest problem in Florida. They enjoy the warmth and humidity that's available year-round in this state. These insects prefer warm climates where they can find a habitat near a body of water. Horseflies are typically forest or marsh dwellers, though they will move to any area where there's abundant prey. Beach towns are popular for horseflies because they can stay near water and often find plenty to feed on.

An adult horsefly can fly for over 30 miles, covering a significant amount of territory in search of food. However, this is not their typical approach to hunting. Horseflies are more likely to perch on the ground, sitting in roadways or on wooded paths waiting for an animal to pass by. They are most active on still, hot days and prefer to feed around the middle of the day.

Horseflies are attracted to light, so you may find them gathering near windows if they get into the house. They find their prey by looking for movement and dark color. They can also detect the carbon dioxide that's breathed out by living creatures and will use this to find animals to feed on.

Problems With Horseflies

Horseflies can carry and transfer diseases through their bites. However, in the United States, most horsefly diseases are spread only to livestock and not to humans. This isn't much reassurance for the livestock owners, however, who want to protect their animals from these pests.

Though it's unlikely that you'll catch a disease from a horsefly bite, you may suffer from an allergic reaction. These bites can also lead to bacterial infections if they're not cleaned and treated properly. These flies will respond to certain insect repellents, such as those with DEET. However, this is only a temporary solution. The best approach is to contact an exterminator to find out how to get rid of horseflies in or around your home.

Pest Control Solutions for Horseflies

You can deter horseflies from hanging out around your house in several ways. Do all you can to make sure that you're not creating a welcoming environment for them. Get rid of any standing water on your property that's likely to attract them. Trim your grass and get rid of weeds, as unkempt areas give horseflies a convenient place to lie in wait for their next meal. Horseflies are attracted to garbage and animal feces, as are other types of flies. Clean these up promptly and keep waste in a well-sealed container.

If you have horseflies in your home, look for their entry points. Seal any gaps around windows or doors and make sure your screens are in good repair. These flies are fairly large, so you can often see where they're getting in and close this entry point. An exterminator may also be able to help you identify likely points of entry for these pests.

A lawn and landscape treatment from a professional exterminator can provide a more thorough solution to a horsefly problem on your property. These solutions use chemicals that deter horseflies from visiting your area.

Other Horsefly Facts

Horseflies are a troublesome pest, but there are some interesting things that you may want to know about them.

They Are Diverse

Worldwide, there are about 3,000 species of horseflies. In Australia, these insects are referred to as March flies. In Canada, they're known as bulldog flies.

Horseflies Are Short-Lived

It can take up to a year for horsefly larvae to become an adult. Once this insect reaches maturity, however, it will live anywhere from a few days to up to two months.

If you have horseflies in your area, take action as soon as possible to prevent them from laying eggs and setting up permanent residence near your home. Contact a professional exterminator to find an effective solution.

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