They don’t always bite, but when they do, flies bite you for blood meals that provide them with nutrition or other benefits. Fly bites are more common than you might think. Unfortunately, they are also more dangerous than many realize. Here are some FAQs to help clear up any confusion.
Q: WHAT TYPE OF FLY BITES PEOPLE THE MOST?
A: Not many people know that mosquitoes are a type of fly. This particular fly species creates the most recognizable – and deadly – fly bites of all. In fact, mosquitoes are the most deadly animal on the planet, accounting for more deaths than all other animals combined. This is despite the fact that mosquitoes don’t actually take blood meals to survive, but rather to lay eggs more efficiently. Their bites are generally associated with a raised white welt that is often immediately recognizable – and itchy. After a while, it turns into a smaller red bump, sometimes with a black dot in the middle.
Q: CAN FLIES BITE IF THEY AREN’T MOSQUITOES?
A: Mosquitoes aren’t the only type of fly that bites. The flies that you see buzzing around horse stables or crawling on your food can also bite, though it depends on the species. Luckily, most of these bites are rarely more than mildly annoying, though it is possible for flies to transmit diseases or cause painful, raised bites.
Q: WHAT TYPES OF FLIES BITE PEOPLE?
A: Depending on where you live, you will experience different types of biting flies. For example, in tropic and subtropical areas (such as the Southern states in the U.S.), female sand flies bite. These flies measure about one-eighth of an inch, leave tiny red bumps and blisters and can transmit leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease. In regions that have swamps and lakes in wooded lands, deer flies are common biters. Measuring one-fourth to one-half inch long, these flies have green or golden eyes and are particularly bothersome on hot, summer days. Since they use their mouthparts to cut your skin and drink the flowing blood, deer fly bites are painful and can result in the potentially fatal rabbit fever (tularemia). Black flies, horse flies and stable flies can also bite humans with similar results. Luckily, the common house fly doesn’t bite, but does pose a health risk due to contamination.
Q: WHAT IF YOU DON’T SEE ANY FLIES?
A: Flies aren’t always slow, large and loud. In fact, you might not even see some flies that bite. Biting midges are commonly referred to as ‟no-see-ums” because, well, it’s rare that you will physically see them. Measuring in at under one-eighth of an inch, these tiny flies are so small that they can get through your typical porch screen. Fine mesh screens work better at keeping these biting pests at bay. Many times, the only sign you’ll get that you’re dealing with no-see-ums are the actual fly bites themselves. Their bites are tiny, but can be painful and very itchy. Worse still, they’re very hard to kill because they’re so hard to see, making these biting flies frustrating and annoying – but at least not deadly.
Q: HOW CAN YOU GET RID OF BITING FLIES?
A: Biting flies can be difficult to control, depending on the species. Species such as the black fly, horse fly, deer fly and biting midge breed in swamps, ponds and other ‟mucky” areas. This makes them difficult to reach and in some cases, impossible. For control of these types of flies, a pest management professional is almost always necessary. Stable flies can be easier to manage since they breed in grass clippings, hay residue and decaying crops. Keeping these items to a minimum might control the stable fly population, but only locally. That’s because stable flies can travel more than 100 miles, making it hard to control populations that come from afar.
Q: CAN YOU AVOID FLY BITES?
A: You can avoid biting flies by knowing what times of the day and year they are most active. No-see-ums are most active at dawn and dusk, especially in the summer. Black flies, deer flies, stable flies and horse flies are most active during the day, with stable flies being prevalent from late fall to January, and deer and black flies abundant all throughout spring. Stay vigilant during these times and keep indoors when you can. If you have to go outside, try to cover up as much skin as possible with clothing, hats, gloves, etc.
If you have a large fly population, your first call should be to Terminix® for a free pest estimate. Do flies bite? Absolutely. Should you have to put up with them? No way.