Got My Horse

Horse Fly Bites: Prevention and Protection Strategies

Facts About Horse FliesHorse flies are a common problem for those who live or work around animals, as well as those who enjoy outdoor activities in fields and forests. These insects belong to the Tabanidae family and are known for their painful bites, often causing swelling and discomfort for the person bitten.

In this article, we will explore the characteristics of horse flies, their life cycle, and reasons for their biting habits and how to deal with horse fly bites.

Description of Tabanidae family and horse flies:

The Tabanidae family consists of insects that are commonly referred to as horse flies.

These insects are larger than a house fly, with adults growing up to an inch in size. They are typically black or dark brown in color with patterned wings and large compound eyes that are iridescent in the sunshine.

Appearance and Characteristics of Horse Flies:

Horse flies are larger than houseflies and have robust and well-built bodies, which allow them to fly at high speeds, making them difficult to catch. They have short, strong legs that aid in their survival, helping them to grasp onto their prey and leap to safety when threatened.

Female horse flies are generally larger and more aggressive than males and are known for their painful bites. Comparison of Horse Flies to Deer Flies and House Flies:

Deer flies are also members of the Tabanidae family, and they are often confused with horse flies.

Deer flies are smaller and have lighter-colored wings, making them less noticeable than horse flies. Houseflies have small bodies and are slower than both deer flies and horse flies.

Horse Fly Life Cycle and Reproduction:

Horse flies have a complex life cycle that includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The female horse fly will lay her eggs in moist soil, near water or in the damp area.

The eggs will be hatched into larvae, which live in the soil and feed on decaying plant matter or organic materials. After roughly two weeks, the larvae enter the pupal stage, where they metamorphose into adult horse flies.

The entire life cycle can be completed in a few weeks to several months, depending on the temperature and humidity. Information on Horse Fly Bites and Stings:

Horse flies are known for their painful bites, which can be very disturbing for animals and humans alike.

When horse flies bite, they slice the skin and pierce it with their mouthparts to draw blood, which is needed for the development of their eggs. The act of biting can cause a burning sensation at the site of the wound that can last for hours.

The bite can also lead to swelling and redness as the body tries to combat the wound. In rare cases, the wound can become infected, leading to pus and other infection symptoms.

Who is biting?

Explanation of Female Horse Fly’s Biting Habits:

Female horse flies are the only ones that bite as they need a source of protein from blood to assist in egg production.

Unlike mosquitoes, which require a continuous blood feed for egg development, female horse flies only need a single blood meal before they can lay their eggs. The bite can be very painful and is often accompanied by a small amount of bleeding, which the horse fly laps up with its tongue-like mouthparts.

Reasons Why Female Horse Flies Bite:

The primary reason female horse flies bite is to obtain the protein they need to develop their eggs. The blood also provides an energy source for the female horse fly, allowing her to fly quickly and evade predators.

After a successful blood meal, the female horse fly will lay her eggs near water or damp soil, where the larvae will hatch into maggots. The cycle then repeats itself, and the female horse fly will search for another blood source to grow and develop more eggs.

Description of Horse Fly Bite and Possible Infections:

Horse fly bites are very painful and are almost always accompanied by some amount of swelling or redness. In some rare cases, the wound can become infected and lead to the production of pus or other systemic symptoms.

An infected horse fly bite requires prompt intervention to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Either over-the-counter or prescription medicine can be provided by physicians based on the severity of the bite.


Horse flies are a common outdoor pest that can cause significant discomfort to animals and humans. Knowing the characteristics of horse flies, their life cycle, and biting habits can help you stay protected and be better prepared to deal with bites.

Furthermore, regular clean-up practices and keeping the environment dry and ventilated can greatly help to reduce horse fly populations and minimize the risk of bites.

Flying Speed and Attractants

Horse flies are swift flyers, capable of achieving speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, making them difficult to avoid. Male horse flies tend to be faster and more agile than females, primarily because they are not slowed down by the weight of eggs and are not burdened by the responsibility of looking after their young.

What Attracts Horse Flies and Preferred Environments

Horse flies are attracted to environments that offer the ideal combination of moisture, temperature, and vegetation. They are most commonly found in open meadows, near lakes and streams, and in wooded areas where there is ample shade and organic material to develop as larvae.

Adult horse flies prefer to feed during the daytime and are particularly active on warm, humid days when conditions are favorable.

Hosts for Horse Flies

Horse flies are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. They are likely to bite any warm-blooded animal that crosses their path, including horses, cattle, and humans.

Some species of horse flies have a preference for specific hosts, while others are more indiscriminate and will feed on a wide range of animals within their geographic range.

Aggressiveness and Disease Carriers

Horse flies are formidable insects that can be highly aggressive. When feeding, they use their sharp mandibles to slash the skin of their hosts, tearing through the flesh to reach the underlying blood vessels.

This cutting ability is so precise that some species of horse flies can rip off pieces of skin and leave deep wounds that are prone to infection.

Regarding the transmission of diseases, equine infectious anemia (EIA) is a viral disease that is transmitted through horse fly bites.

EIA can cause fever, anemia, weight loss, and general malaise in infected horses. The disease can be fatal in some cases and in many countries, testing for EIA is mandatory before horses can be moved or entered into shows.

Prevention of Horse Fly Bites

Prevention is key when it comes to horse fly bites. Wearing protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and high boots can greatly reduce the likelihood of being bitten, especially during hot and humid conditions when horse flies are most active.

The use of insect repellents can also be effective. Non-toxic methods, including sticky traps and odor baits, can be used to help control horse fly populations in high-risk areas.

Also, providing plenty of airflow around areas where horses graze can also be useful in lowering the prevalence of horse flies.


In conclusion, horse flies can be a serious nuisance and threat to the well-being of both domestic animals and humans. By understanding their biology, behavior patterns, and preferred environments, it is possible to take effective measures to prevent and control horse fly populations.

Maintaining superb hygiene levels around horses can help prevent infections which could lead to equine infectious anemia. Regular checks should be done to detect early signs of horse fly bites for equines.

Natural and Chemical Prevention

Horse flies are pesky insects that can cause significant discomfort and even distress to animals and humans. These insects breed quickly and can grow in number rapidly if left unchecked, making it essential to use preventative measures to keep their populations under control.

Here are some natural and chemical approaches that can be used to prevent horse fly infestations. Methods for Getting Rid of Horse Flies:

One of the most effective ways to control horse fly populations is to eliminate their breeding habitats.

This can be achieved by regularly clearing out any stagnant water and clean up any dung or organic material like fallen branches from your property that can offer a breeding ground for horse flies. Automatic bug zappers and sticky traps can also be used to capture and kill horse flies without using chemicals.

Use of Essential Oils as a Natural Prevention Method:

The use of essential oils is another natural method of preventing horse flies. Essential oils like lavender, citronella, tea tree, lemongrass, and peppermint are all useful in repelling insects, including horse flies.

These oils can be either dabbed on the skin or added to a carrier oil to create a natural bug repellent. The fragrance of these oils assists in masking the scent that attracts horse flies to their prey.

Bathing Horses in Pyrethrin as a Chemical Prevention Method:

Another useful prevention method is using pyrethrin, a natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers and available in many formulations, including bathing solutions. Pyrethrin can be mixed with a small amount of water and applied to the coat of horses during bath times, providing chemical protection for up to two weeks.

It is essential to use pyrethrin in the prescribed dosage levels to avoid harming horses and other animals. Cleaning Up Manure and Maintaining a Clean Environment for Horse Fly Prevention:

One of the best ways of preventing horseflies is to create a clean environment.

Horse flies thrive on organic material like manure, garbage, or rotting vegetation and damp environments. Clean up all manure, ensure stable bedding is clean, drainage is optimal, and eliminate any stagnant water and dampness.

Managing the environment and limiting these conditions will limit the number of flies and their breeding grounds. Personal Protection from Horse Flies:

Personal protective measures can also be employed to prevent horse fly bites and stings.

Wearing long-sleeved clothing and protective headgear will make it difficult for horse flies to access exposed skin, reducing the chances of gettting bitten. Additionally, using DEET-based insect repellents or citronella-based products, and wearing bug hats provide significant protection against horse fly bites.


Horse flies are difficult to control and can cause significant discomfort to animals and humans alike. By using natural and chemical preventatives like destroying breeding habitats, using bug zappers and traps, cleaning up organic material, using essential oils, and applying pyrethrin bath solutions, horse fly populations can be kept under control.

Finally, adopting personal protective measures like wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent also helps to reduce the chances of getting bitten. These measures, when applied appropriately, greatly help to protect both animals and humans from horse fly bites and stings.

In conclusion, horse flies are persistent insects that can cause significant discomfort to animals and humans. Natural and chemical prevention methods can be used to deter horse fly infestations, including destroying breeding habitats, using bug zappers and traps, using essential oils, applying pyrethrin bath solutions, and cleaning up organic material.

Taking measures such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellents is also essential in preventing horse fly bites. By understanding horse flies’ behavior patterns and preferred environments, people can take better measures to keep their populations under control and minimize their negative impact.


1. Do horse flies carry diseases?

– Yes, horse flies can carry diseases such as equine infectious anemia (EIA), which is most commonly transmitted through horse fly bites. 2.

What are some natural prevention methods for horse flies? – Using essential oils like citronella, tea tree, lemongrass, and peppermint are natural methods to repel horse flies.

3. What is pyrethrin?

– Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers used as a bathing solution to prevent horse fly bites. 4.

How to get rid of horse flies? – Eliminating breeding environments, using bug zappers and traps are ways to rid the environment of horse flies.

5. How to deal with horse fly bites?

– Over-the-counter treatments like antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medications can be used for pain relief and swelling due to horse fly bites. It is important to monitor the wound for any signs of infection and seek medical attention if necessary.

Popular Posts