Black Flies


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Habits & Life Cycles

Simulium slossonae adults may fly four to eight miles from breeding sites in search of hosts, then return after feeding to breed and lay eggs. In parts of Africa, adult female black flies may travel more than forty miles from aquatic breeding sites to find blood meals. So, the biting problem at a particular location may be generated at some distance away, even in Florida. Black flies have preferences for a wide range of individual host species. Adult females feed on the blood of humans, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, poultry, other livestock and wild mammals and birds.

Each black fly species may prefer one type of host over another.

Black Fly Control - Larvicides, Insecticides & Cultural Controls

The black fly common name sometimes indicates host specificity, for example the turkey gnat. Black flies are daytime biters preferring low wind conditions. They are not restricted to shaded or humid sites, and usually do not go indoors. They are attracted to hosts from a distance by smell, heat, and by sight. The female flies swarm around and crawl on the host preferring the head, hair, and ears as well as any skin that is exposed or that they can crawl onto. Simulium slossonae is primarily a bird feeder and probably preys on wild turkeys to some extent. It is the primary vector of the protozoan blood parasite, Leucocytozoon smithi , in Florida.

This parasite is restricted only to birds, especially turkeys. Simulium slossonae will feed on domestic turkeys as well as chickens and other poultry. Several cases of chicken mortality attributed to black fly feeding were reported in Florida during the first three months of Female black flies are blood feeders whose bites can itch and persist for several days. The flies bite by cutting into the skin and feeding on the pool of blood that forms in the hole they make.

Anticoagulants injected into the feeding site by black flies can cause mild to severe allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Strong reactions include fever, nausea and allergic dermatitis. Large black fly populations and strong bite reactions can be life threatening and have been reported to kill domestic animals. Black fly bites are very painful because of the hole that is cut in the skin, the anticoagulants and other materials that are injected, and the immunological differences between insect and hosts' tissues.

Figure 5.


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Black fly, Simulium sp. Some people are very attractive to black flies and have strong feeding reactions. Others appear to repel black flies and are bitten little if at all.

Black Flies

Although Simulium slossonae is primarily a bird feeder, large swarms are attracted to people. Fortunately in Florida, most of the black flies attracted to people do not bite. Anyone showing strong allergic reactions should consult a physician for immediate treatment. Treatments for bites include antipruritic lotions or creams Goddard Control of black flies is difficult because of the number of potential breeding sites. However, satisfactory control has been attained in some states by treating streams with the natural product, Bacillus thuringiensis var.

The breeding sites in streams as well as the potential migration from these sites by the adult female black fly limits the use of chemical pesticides to regulate populations. Breeding site treatments have been used in Africa, but generally have not proven effective. Treatment of breeding sites streams, rivers, etc. Fogging for black flies would have to be done during the day when these insects are actively feeding and when fogging is least effective.

Department of Entomology

These techniques do not seem effective against black flies in the northeastern United States. Black flies are small enough to pass through window screen or come indoors on or in the hair. They do, however, prefer to bite out of doors. Long sleeve shirts, long pants and fine screen netting over head help prevent feeding. Repellents containing "DEET" formulations are not very effective for prevention of black fly bites. Our tests indicate that some protection is given by herbal-based treatments with an active ingredient of geraniol.

Permethrin products designed specifically to repel ticks also work for black flies as a clothing treatment, but can only be applied to fabrics, such as hats and shirts, and not to skin. Because black flies feed only during the day, our best advice is to limit your exposure to black flies.

Black Flies [fact sheet]

If this is not possible, try the available repellents in the hope that one of them will be effective for you in protecting against the black flies' bites. Insecta: Diptera: Simuliidae Introduction - Distribution - Life Cycle and Description - Damage - Management - Selected References Introduction Back to Top Florida occasionally experiences outbreaks of black flies, though this is a rare occurrence, and these large populations are caused by rainfall extremes.

Life Cycle and Description Back to Top Adult black flies are small insects that measure 1 to 5 mm in length, and possess a shiny thorax middle of the fly that ranges in color from black to various shades of gray or yellow. Damage Back to Top Black flies have preferences for a wide range of individual host species. Management Back to Top Control of black flies is difficult because of the number of potential breeding sites. Physicians Guide to Arthropods of Medical Importance.

Ben Howard & Daughter - Black flies

CRC Press. Boca Raton. Less common severe allergic reactions may require hospitalization. Repellents provide some protection against biting flies. Products containing the active ingredient ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate IR , DEET N , N -diethyl- meta -toluamide , or picaridin are most effective.

However, given the limited effectiveness of repellents, protecting oneself against biting flies requires taking additional measures, such as avoiding areas inhabited by the flies, avoiding peak biting times, and wearing heavy-duty, light-colored clothing, including long-sleeve shirts, long pants and hats. Black flies are central to the transmission of the parasitic nematode Onchocerca volvulus which causes onchocerciasis , or "river blindness".

It serves as the larval host for the nematode and acts as the vector by which the disease is spread. The parasite lives on human skin and is transmitted to the black fly during feeding. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about black flies in the family Simuliidae.

For other uses, see Blackfly disambiguation. This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in Italian. April Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the Italian article. Machine translation like Deepl or Google Translate is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia.

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Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary using German : Content in this edit is translated from the existing German Wikipedia article at [[:de:Exact name of German article]]; see its history for attribution.

For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation. Newman , World blackflies Diptera: Simuliidae : a comprehensive revision of the taxonomic and geographical inventory [] PDF. Boston Globe. Retrieved Dorset Life. Retrieved 6 September The Daily Telegraph. Christian March Entomological News. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. Academic Press. Medical Entomology for Students. Cambridge University Press. Extant Diptera families. Suborder Nematocera. Dixidae meniscus midges Corethrellidae frog-biting midges Chaoboridae phantom midges Culicidae mosquitoes.

Thaumaleidae solitary midges Simuliidae black flies Ceratopogonidae biting midges Chironomidae non-biting midges. Blephariceridae net-winged midges Deuterophlebiidae mountain midges Nymphomyiidae. Bibionidae march flies, lovebugs. Anisopodidae wood gnats. Bolitophilidae Diadocidiidae Ditomyiidae Keroplatidae Mycetophilidae Sciaridae dark-winged fungus gnats Cecidomyiidae gall midges. Canthyloscelidae Perissommatidae Scatopsidae minute black scavenger flies, or dung midges. Psychodidae moth flies.

Ptychopteridae phantom crane flies Tanyderidae primitive crane flies. Trichoceridae winter crane flies. Pediciidae hairy-eyed craneflies Tipulidae crane flies. Suborder Brachycera. Apioceridae flower-loving flies Apsilocephalidae Apystomyiidae Asilidae robber flies Bombyliidae bee flies Evocoidae Hilarimorphidae hilarimorphid flies Mydidae mydas flies Mythicomyiidae Scenopinidae window flies Therevidae stiletto flies.

Atelestidae Hybotidae dance flies Dolichopodidae long-legged flies Empididae dagger flies, balloon flies. Acroceridae small-headed flies Nemestrinidae tangle-veined flies. Phoridae scuttle flies, coffin flies, humpbacked flies Opetiidae flat-footed flies Ironomyiidae ironic flies Lonchopteridae spear-winged flies Platypezidae flat-footed flies. Syrphidae hoverflies Pipunculidae big-headed flies. Conopidae thick-headed flies.

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