Black flies, also called biting gnats, are common pests during the warmer months of the year. Immature black flies develop in stream and river habitats. They are closely related to mosquitoes. Female black flies suck blood to develop eggs. Males do not bite but feed on plant nectars. Female black flies range in size from an eighth to a quarter of an inch. Black flies do not transmit any diseases to humans in Minnesota, but their bite can be quite painful and itchy.
How Many Species Of Black Flies Are In MN?
At last count, 1,912 species of black flies have been formally described worldwide, 257 in North America. In Minnesota, 30 species have been documented.
What Harm Can A Black Fly Do?
Like many blood-sucking insects, black flies can transmit parasites during a blood-meal. They typically mate in the late spring to the early summer. The females need blood to fertilize their eggs, and if they encounter any parasites before feasting on yours, it could cause some problems. In specific regions, a black fly can transmit a disease called “river blindness.” However, “Black Fly Fever” is more common in North America. Those experiencing “black fly fever” may experience headaches, nausea, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. These reactions may be worse if the host has an allergic reaction. These reactions and parasites can be transmitted to livestock as well.
The non-biting black fly species can be just as irritating. They tend to aim and crawl into the eyes, ears, and mouth. The situation can get so dire that black flies can suffocate their victims by clogging their nose and throat. Plus, they cause a symptom called “toxic shock” to animals. Clearly, as annoying, and dangerous as these pests can be, you want to avoid them if you can. Here are seven simple ways to do it.
Reduce Your Risk Of Black Fly Bites
When black fly activity is high, there are several steps you can take to help prevent bites:
● wear light colored clothing, as black flies are attracted to dark colors
● wear long sleeves, pants, and hat, covering as much exposed skin as possible; black flies don’t bite through clothing
● avoid peak biting times; unlike mosquitoes, black flies are daytime feeders
● use repellents, such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
● an insect head net can be worn for protection in areas of high black fly populations
“Shoo fly, don’t bother me!”
Flies look for breeding areas where they can deposit their eggs. Sometimes merely taking out the trash can solve the problem, but other times it takes a trained professional to scout out hidden breeding places as well as structural issues where flies are finding a way into your home. If you don’t address these issues, you can expect a nice arm workout as you swat flies continuously. In the Twin Cities of MN, give EcoTech a call at (763) 232-7296 so you can enjoy a fly-free rest of the summer!