What Are Horse Flies?
As the name suggests, horse flies are a particular pest to livestock. Horse flies tend to be more problematic in rural areas as the females are known to bite horses, cattle and other large mammals. Horse fly bites can be particularly harmful to horses as they carry diseases such as swamp fever, which can result in fever, weight loss and anaemia in equine animals. Male horse flies are not known to bite and tend to feed on pollen and nectar. Horse flies are also prone to bite humans as well as livestock.
When Are Horse Flies Active?
Horse flies are at their most prominent between May and September. Horse flies will begin the mating process in mid-air and look to lay between 100 to 1000 eggs. Eggs tend to be laid on a vertical surface overhanging water or wet ground favourable to larvae development. The eggs hatch in 5–7 days and begin to pupate in early summer.
What do Horse Flies Bites Look Like?
Horse flies tend to bite in a scissor like motion as the insect cuts the skin. The area of the bite will be a red, itchy and raised lump. The area around the bite may become puffy and swollen, and it is not uncommon for the skin to blister. While horse bites are quite painful, the discomfort tends to be short lived and the wound should take a few days to heal.
Horse Fly Bite Treatment
- In order to avoid infection, you should immediately clean the wound and surrounding area.
- Apply an ice pack to the area of the bite to help reduce swelling.
- Use hydrocortisone cream to help reduce swelling and itchiness.
- Avoid scratching the bite as this can increase the likelihood of bacterial infection
Horse fly bites normally heal themselves but if you notice pus or swelling around the wound, then it is advised to seek further medical advice.
How to Get Rid of Horse Flies
Remove standing water – The most effective way to reduce the likelihood of horse flies is to remove any suitable conditions near your home that allow them to breed. Horse flies tend to favour breeding on wet ground or standing water.
This may include:
- Paddling pools – Keep paddling pools covered or drained in order to prevent horse flies from laying its eggs.
- Ponds – While you may not want to cover a pond, you can still target horse flies by adding goldfish to the pond. Goldfish will eat the larvae and thus hamper the mating process.
- Tall grass – Tall grass can offer suitable breeding conditions so it’s essential to keep grass trimmed short to remove any moist or cool areas where horse flies thrive.