Black flies are notorious for pestering humans and animals. They spend most of their time outside but are problematic because of their painful bites. Understanding black fly habits will make it easier to avoid a run-in with these bugs. We’ve gathered information about black flies to help you identify these pests and keep them from bugging you.
What Do Black Flies Look Like?
Black flies are small, smaller than houseflies, measuring about 1/16"-1/8" in length. Most of these flies are black, but some can be brown, gray, yellow, or orange. They have an arched thorax, giving them a humpbacked appearance, which is why they are also referred to as buffalo gnats. Black flies have short legs, large wings, and large eyes.
Where Do Black Flies Come From?
Black flies can be found throughout the world except in Antarctica. They prefer warm, humid areas. You are most likely to spot them in rural or wooded areas. Black flies are found near water since this is their breeding site. These pests are a problem outdoors. While they occasionally sneak into homes, they don’t breed or infest indoor areas.
Where Do Black Flies Breed?
Black flies breed in running water like streams and rivers. Females will not lay their eggs in polluted water. Eggs are placed on the surfaces of rocks or other items in the water. Once larvae hatch, they attach themselves to rocks or branches. Larvae and pupae will remain under water until they develop into adults.
What Do Black Flies Eat?
Adult black flies feed on plant nectar. Female black flies require a blood meal to reproduce. Black fly larvae feed on bacteria found in water.
When Are Black Flies Active?
You are most likely to spot these pests during spring and summer months. Black flies are active after sunrise. These pests are not active at night.
Do Black Flies Bite?
Female black flies bite, but male flies don’t. The female flies require a blood meal to lay eggs. Their bites often leave you with a painful and itchy red bump. To feed on blood, they cut the skin. While feeding, they inject an anticoagulant to prevent the blood from clotting. This can cause an allergic reaction. Black flies target exposed skin and typically bite your upper body, head, and neck. They are likely to bother you early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Bites can cause fever, nausea, headache, and swollen lymph nodes.
Black flies also bite animals, and their bites can cause them to get sick or die. These pests will also fly into an animal’s nose and ears, which can make it difficult for it to breathe.
The Black Fly Life Cycle
Black flies undergo a complete metamorphosis. Their cycle includes an egg, larval, pupal, and adult stage. Females will deposit between 150 to 600 eggs in their lifetime. Environmental conditions and water temperatures can affect the time it takes for them to develop. Eggs can hatch in less than a week. Like eggs, larvae and pupae develop in the water. The larval stage can last for several months while pupae develop in a few days. Adult black flies can live for a few weeks.
How to Prevent Black Fly Bites
Black flies are mainly outdoor creatures, so your focus will be on protecting yourself when spending time outside. Check out a few tips to avoid black fly bites.
- When possible, wear long sleeves and pants.
- Black flies are attracted to darker colors, so opt for lighter hues.
- Avoid wearing perfumes or using laundry detergents with a sweet fragrance.
- Avoid drinking or eating sweet treats when outside.
- Wear a hat with an attached net to protect your head and neck.
- Use an outdoor fan to make it harder for these pests to reach you.
- Use a plant-based Natural Insect Repellent to help keep black flies and other pests away.
How Do You Get Rid of Black Flies
If black flies are hanging out in your yard, plant-based insecticide sprays can help. Plants don’t like flies and other bugs any more than you do. The natural oils they produce to protect themselves are effective at keeping pests away. Our plant-based Flying Insect Killer is great for spot-treating flies. You can also treat your lawn with our Yard Bug Spray. These sprays kill pests on contact and provide residual repellency.
When spending time outdoors, the last thing you want is to have black flies bugging you. Though these pests may want to crash your outdoor fun, you don’t have to let them. If you’re dealing with pests, we’re here to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products for a more environmentally and family-friendly solution.