When vacationing this summer along the coast you may all of a sudden be attacked by biting flies. Many biting flies persistently attack man and animals to obtain a blood meal. The feeding activity of these insects is often very annoying and can result in injury or disease transmission. Biting flies of medical and veterinary importance include no-see’ums, black flies, stable flies, horse flies, and deer flies.
No-see’ums biting flies
No-see’ums are members of the insect order Diptera that undergo complete metamorphosis including the egg, larva, pupa, and adult forms. The adults are less than 1/16-inch-long, dark gray to black, and have one pair of spotted wings. Although no-see’ums breed predominantly in salt marshes, some inland species breed in tree holes and other fresh water areas.
The larvae of this pest are often found in mud, sand, and other moist debris surrounding the edges of ponds, springs, lakes, creeks, tree holes, or on slime-covered bark. In the water, larvae occur as free-living swimmers that are commonly found on floating twigs or leaf debris.
Black flies (Simuliidae) are small, dark, stout-bodied insects with a hump-backed appearance that can be biting flies. Adult females are not host specific and feed on blood primarily during daylight hours. It hovers about the eyes, ears, and nostrils of man and animals, often alighting and puncturing the skin causing severe irritation.
The black fly life cycle begins when eggs are deposited on logs, rocks, or solid surfaces in swiftly flowing, oxygenated streams. Larvae attach themselves to underwater rocks or vegetation with a posterior sucker. The length of the larval period varies depending on the species and conditions within the larval environment. Adult black flies emerge after pupation and begin searching for new hosts. These pests are strong fliers and are known to travel seven to 10 miles from their breeding sites.
The stable fly, also known as the dog fly, is a blood-sucking pest that closely resembles the house fly. It is similar to the house fly in size and color, but is easily recognized by its large, piercing mouthparts, which project forward from the head. Unlike many blood-feeding insects, such as mosquitoes, both sexes of the stable fly feed on blood.
The stable fly is a common pest of man and animals throughout the world. Stable flies are strong fliers that can travel up to two miles in search of a blood meal. Because they are persistent and easily interrupted during feeding, they often attack more than one host, increasing the potential for disease transmission. Although stable flies may be mechanical vectors of several animal diseases, they are not known to play a significant role in spreading human pathogens.
Horse Flies and Deer Flies
Horse flies and deer flies are closely related insects with similar life cycles. Both pests are strong fliers and only the adult female bites. They are daytime feeders that use large piercing mouthparts to lacerate host skin for a blood meal. While feeding, an anticoagulant is injected into the wound, increasing blood flow. These wounds can often serve as sites for secondary infections and many people are allergic to the feeding activities of these pests. In addition, horse flies and deer flies are important agents of disease transmission due to their intermittent feeding activity.
Most species of horse flies and deer flies have aquatic or semi-aquatic immature stages. Some will also develop in moist soil, leaf debris, or rotting logs. The eggs are generally deposited in layers of vegetation, objects over water, or other moist areas favorable to larval development. Five to seven days after hatching, the larvae travel to the water surface or other moist areas and begin to feed on organic matter.
We at Southern Pest Control hope that this information was helpful. Our team of professionals are standing by ready to help with all of your pest control-related needs. We have been servicing the Gulf Coast Region for over 38 years.