Dear flies don’t suck — they bite. Mosquitoes suck the blood from you. A horsefly uses a specialized mouthpiece to bite you and then feed on your blood. The entire biting process is more like a violent crime than a bite. A flea bites you, and a horsefly practically mugs you. Here’s how the biting process works with horseflies.
The Daggers of Doom
Horseflies have mouths that contain solid bone-like structures. Those are the mandibles and the labrum. The mandibles come together to form what appears to be two daggers side by side with the sharp edge facing outward. The combined point stabs deeply into the flesh, and once it hits a sufficient depth, the mandibles swing outwards. During that outward swing, the mandibles slice through flesh, vein, and capillary. Under magnification, you begin to see just how efficient the mandible of the horsefly is. There are tiny teeth along the cutting edge. Those teeth not only help the solid structure puncture the skin and muscle, but they also create a ragged edge which produces more blood.
The Labrum — A Tool of Efficiency
The Labrum is also a firm fixture of the horsefly mouth. It is wide and narrow and offers a design that mimics the shape of the mandibles when they are closed. It slides into the puncture that the mandibles make and there it begins to harvest the spewing blood. The center of the labrum is hollow. It contains the salivary duct, which floods the puncture wound with fly saliva. The saliva is an anticoagulant which keeps your blood from clotting. So in conjunction with those saw teeth on the mandibles, the saliva helps the blood to keep flowing. It is that chemical bath inside your flesh that causes the most pain. It is a nerve reaction. Your blood is sucked up the salivary duct by a structure that acts as a syringe.
The Queens of Efficiency
It is only the female horseflies that bite. The males are not capable of biting, and they have no interest in drinking blood. They dine on plant sap. This is an interesting fact because the different sexes do not compete for food sources. The female needs the protein in the blood to lay eggs. The males in the insect world are self-sacrificing because when a healthy female can lay more eggs, then more of the male’s DNA makes it into the next generation. Just ask the male mantid about the role of self-sacrificing males.
The female horse flies are so skilled at snatching a blood meal that the entire process happens before you can react. In short, not only do you get punctured, she drinks your blood and is gone before you can slap yourself.
Horseflies are violent in their approach to obtaining blood. People have tried to use pesticides on them for generations. Pesticides have little effect. What works is a tool that mimics large mammals as those are the prey of the horsefly female. The Fly Cage is one such tool. The females come in search of a meal and never fly out again.
The horse fly is a terror that anyone who has ever experienced their bite will remember instantly. In this article, we talk about five interesting facts that many people may not know about this flying menace.
1. The Bite of Horse Flies Can Cause Disease in Humans
The primary concern from horse fly bites for humans is a post-bite infection. The horse fly’s mouth is a scissor-like apparatus. It is a precise tool that pierces the skin, spreads outwards severing capillaries. The result is an upwelling of blood. The saliva of the horse fly contains an anticoagulant. Once bitten the blood flow from a bite does not stop immediately. The female flies need a blood meal to finish their ovulation. Infect from a bite site is not specifically from the horse fly but from other bacteria, fungi, or virus.
In certain species of livestock, such as sheep, the bite from the horse fly can transfer Elaeophora schneideri, which is a nematode or arterial worm. The potential disease for livestock includes elaeophorosis commonly referred to as filarial dermatitis. In sheep, we call the disease sorehead. In elk, it can lead to blindness and is aptly named clear eye blindness. This is not a pleasant disease as symptoms include necrotic tissue in the muzzle region, including the ears tissue. Optic nerve damage can also occur as can severe problems with balance, even death.
For a small percentage of humans, the bite from the horse fly may lead to allergic disease as your body may react to the anticoagulant in the fly’s saliva.
Horse flies are no joke. Their bite is not only painful but dangerous, especially to livestock.
2. The Horse Fly Larva are Highly Aggressive Carnivores
To understand the horse fly larvae as a predator, consider that the that their mouth design allows them to grasp and tear at their prey. Not only are they not interested if their prey escapes, but they will eat “it” while it is still alive. In addition to being predacious, they are cannibalistic too. Targets include earthworms, other insect larvae, millipedes, and even small fish.
3. Many Species of Horse Fly are immune to Pesticides
We have tried many ways to eradicate horse flies and almost every one of those “ways” has failed. We killed off the weaker horseflies because we have done a poor job of using pesticides. What remains is pretty much horse flies that are immune to many pesticides. One type of control that works well is the Fly Cage — a horse fly trap. The trap uses all this predatory insect’s natural tendencies against it.
4. Horse Flies Hunt By Sight
Walk through a shady glen during horse fly season and it won’t take long for that stinging, painful bite to occur. The design of horse flies eyes allow them to detect and track movement. They wait in ambush for big mammals to wander along. Movement attracts them and big animals make easy targets. The flies do not have perfect vision as compared to many mammals, but they see movement just fine. They are also attracted to how we smell and carbon dioxide. As we breathe we emit carbon dioxide. That is one reason why the Fly Cage works so well. It mimics the movement of large animals, such as horses, elk, deer, and sheep. That movement draws the horse flies in where they become trapped and die.
5. Despite All the Terror, Horse Flies have Beautiful Eyes
Maybe a bit mesmerizing — those eyes, but they appear in beautiful shades of greens, ambers, and even red. They often have shapes in them in hues of purple and gold. As beautiful as their eyes are, they are not enough to make up for that horrible bite.
Do you have a fact about horse flies? If so, leave it in the comments below.
If you’ve ever been in back-yards, farm areas, or wooded areas and had a large fly land on you that proceeded to bite the living daylights out of you, you’ve probably become acquainted with the yellow fly – also known as a horse fly.
Yellow Fly (Horse Fly) Appearance
The life cycle of the yellow fly is in four stages:
1. The egg
2. The larva
3. The pupa
4. The adult
The adult horse fly is around 3/8 inches long and is primarily yellow – hence the name yellow fly. They look very similar to deer flies. The body is yellow, as are all the legs, except for the front two which are mostly black. The wings have yellow and black veins running through them, but are otherwise clear except for a brown patch on the rear middle portion. The eyes of the yellow fly are large and green/blue with two bands of purple.
The eggs of the yellow fly are very small, only about one and a half millimeters. When the female first lays them, they are white, but within a few hours they turn black. People often mistake yellow fly eggs for specks of dirt or tar or for feces. The larvae are around a half an inch long, are slender, and white or milky colored, covered with very fine brown-yellowish short hairs.
Habit, Diet, and Behavior of the Yellow Fly (Horse Fly)
At the larval stage, the yellow fly feeds on organic substances at varying stages of decay. They tend to prefer shaded areas where food is abundant, typically around wood plants and under the surface of the water. Before pupating, they typically molt around 10 times. Once they are mature, they will develop into pupae that are basically non-feeding and move to an area with drier conditions.
Like the mosquito, the adult female horse fly bites and seeks out blood meals. Conversely, the males feed on pollen and nectar and don’t bite. The female is a vicious biter and deer fly bites can become swollen, red, itchy, and painful. For the most part the adult flies remain near the larval breeding site, but being the strong fliers that they are, the females can travel quite far when seeking out a blood meal.
Symptoms of a Yellow Fly (Horse Fly) Bite
The first symptom of a horse fly bite is that it hurts like the dickens! Other symptoms include:
· Red, itchy, swollen area surrounding the bite
· Itchy skin is a primary symptom of yellow fly bites. Secondary bacterial infections can crop up from this if the bite is not disinfected and kept clean.
· In rare cases, some people may have severe allergic or life threatening reactions to the yellow fly’s anticoagulant containing saliva that is used during blood feeding.
You are most likely to encounter yellow flies near large bodies of water, which is their breeding ground, but they are also often found around wooded areas.
Reproduction of the Yellow Fly
When adult yellow flies emerge from the pupal stage they almost immediately mate. Females will hide their egg masses near water on sticks, rocks, plants, and other items. The eggs hatch in 5 to 12 days and the larvae drop into the mud or water. They begin feeding. There are typically just one or two generations over the course of a year, but this depends on the species and the environment.
How to Remove Yellow Flies From Your Yard
The Fly Cage horse fly trap is specifically designed for Horse flies, Deer flies, Yellow flies, and Green heads. Horse flies, Deer flies, Yellow flies, and Green heads, are attracted to CO2 and heat, which is why they are attracted to humans. These types of biting flies are also visual hunters. The Fly Cage biting fly trap utilizes visual motion to attract the flies by suspending the black lure below the cage. Biting flies go straight to the target flying upward into the cage and once caught, dehydrate.
It’s spring and that means the biting flies are emerging from their pupa cases and hungry for a blood meal. Are your barn and stable ready for spring? They can be with a simple solution. The Fly Cage helps cut down on horse flies and other biting flies that pester animals and handlers alike.
Green Technology Rescues Horse and Rider
We are all concerned about the use of toxic chemicals. They are too risky to use around stock and where family, children, hired help, and pets may come into contact with them. Not only do they pose a health risk, one has to wonder if they are an effective way to control biting insects.
The whole emphasis on toxins is that the insect has to come into contact with them in order for them to work. Horse flies and other biting flies use a much more complex system of finding food. They are visual hunters. They use color and movement to locate prey.
Not only can they see you, they can track your movement. That is why biting flies are so successful at finding victims. Their compound eyes are the real issue. They hunt by seeking darker colors and movement. This is also why the Fly Cage works effectively. It offers the right color tones to attract biting flies and has a movement that draws them in faster. Their path to you, your horse, pets, and children is a direct one. Because biting flies feed on blood, they seek out our warm bodies like a heat seeking missile. Warm bodies mean blood and the female horse fly needs blood to produce eggs. The males do not feed on blood. Spring is a prime time for biting flies to mate and that is why they are such pests as soon as the weather grows warm. This is also why toxins do not really work to control biting flies.
To Control Biting Flies, Requires That You Understand Them
Biting flies breed in wet areas. Unlike some insects, such as dragonflies, they do not lay their eggs in water. So treating water is both an environmental issue and added cost that is not effective. You still have biting flies such as:
- Horse Flies
- Deer Flies
- Green Heads
- Yellow Flies
Toxins are not effective and they pose health risks to humans and animals. What does work to control biting flies is the Fly Cage. You can use green technology to control their populations. Remember how their vision works to locate color and movement? Well, the fly trap uses that information to attract biting flies. They fly in and they don’t fly out again. No toxins. No huge cost to treat the water. Just a simple Fly Cage that makes spring a little more enjoyable.
As this winter begins, we know you are probably itching to get back out your gardens. While we wait for the first sign of spring, why not start prepping your supplies? There are many different gardening tools out there and it can be challenging to decide which ones you need and which you can do without.
Here are the 5 tools that our specialists have deemed most important:
- Trowel: A trowel is extremely helpful when you need to complete any small jobs, such as weeding, planting seedlings or bulbs, and for planting in places a spade shovel won’t fit.
- Compression gloves: These gloves provide great protection and support. They have more padding than your everyday gardening gloves and the snug fit helps reduce any aches or pains.
- Stand-up weeder: Your back will thank you for this one! All you need to do is step on the pedal, pull back, and the four serrated claws will grab and yank out the unwanted plants and roots.
- Pruners: A pair of pruners are very handy to have as they can be used to trim and shape plants, deadhead, prune out any dead foliage, and cut back perennials.
- Japanese hand hoe: This tool is great for soil cultivation, and with its pointed edge it makes for a great weeder.
Are there any tools you think should have made the list?
We’d love to read and respond to your comments!
For those of you who are hoping to become more eco–conscious within the new year, we wanted to share with you 6 of our favorite blogs that aim to educate and encourage everyone on reducing their carbon footprint.
Dive into these eco-friendly blog posts!
TreeHuggers: Promotes sustainability, design, food, culture, transportation, energy, fashion, politics, health and other environmental issues, worldwide. Use TreeHuggers.com to find your greener side!
Green Alliance: Support local! Based out of Portsmouth NH, Green Alliance aims to encourage and inform their followers to consider supporting local business that have the least impact on the environment. Green Alliance also partners with local, eco-friendly business to help promote and offer discounts from their business partners to all their members with their “GreenCard”. Buy green, buy local, save ‘lotsa’ money!
WebEcoist: is a well-known source of sensational green innovation, educational environmental news and inspirational natural wonders. They describe the site as a free, one-stop shop for everything about our Earth – including great guides to eco-friendly facts, the sustainable web, our environmental history and the green movement.
Groovy Green Livin’: is dedicated to providing an honest and credible setting for sharing green ideas, thoughts, and other useful tips and trends relating to living a greener lifestyle. Get groovy today!
The Green Divas: Green Divas’ Meg McWilliams and Lynn Hasselberger have established Green Diva as a go-to source for people in search of fresh ideas for sustainable living. They recently launched a radio network called GDGD Radio Network. Listen live now!
Planetsave: Living sustainably in a time of planetary crisis and shining the light of scientific evidence on global-warming disbelief is the mission of “PlanetSave”, whose founders invite readers to join the team; this blog combines activism with practical advice for green living and a little levity that helps make tough truths easier to take.
These are only a few of the great eco-friendly blogs out there, so we encourage you to please comment below and share any that we missed!
Spring is around the corner, which means so is the Boston Flower & Garden Show! In the past there has been some of the most breathtaking and beautiful landscapes, with this year’s theme being “Season of Enchantment”, it’s sure to follow suit.
Fly Cage is so excited to be exhibiting at this year’s event.
The Fly Cage is a green technology that has been tested and proven to catch and remove a wide variety of unwanted biting flies without using chemicals or pesticides.
IT CAPTURES AND ELIMINATES BITING FLIES INCLUDING:
Boston Flower & Garden Show
When: March 11-15, 2015
Where: Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, MA 02215
Booth Number: 454