What Do Horse Flies Eat?

Adults feed mainly on plant nectar and other plant juices in order to obtain energy for flying. Additionally, female adults require blood from mammals for reproduction. The blood-sucking bites from the adult females can be very painful to mammals.

What is the daily diet for a horse fly?

  • Pierce,K.R.,et al.,
  • Lewis L.D.
  • Knight A.P. and Walter R.G.
  • Murphy M.,

What foods are horse flies attracted to?

Bites, Birth and Feeding Male horseflies and female flies looking for food consume only plant nectar. The flies hunt in cool areas near water and around soft earth when possible, as that environment is ideal for laying eggs.

What are horse fly attracted to?

These flies apparently are attracted to such things as movement, shiny surfaces, carbon dioxide, and warmth. Once on a host, they use their knife-like mouthparts to slice the skin and feed on the blood pool that is created.

What purpose do horse flies serve?

Hanssen says the horsefly has found its niche in the ecosystem. It sucks blood for food and to reproduce, he said, and should be seen as part of the biodiversity of the planet, albeit an annoying one.

What eats a horse fly?

Both horse flies and deer flies are abundant in damp, wooded and wetland environments, which provide the necessary habitat for their eggs and larvae. Natural predators of horse flies and deer flies include such things as frogs, toads, spiders, wasps, hornets, dragonflies, and birds.

Why do horse flies follow you?

Besides determination to get blood, there are other reasons horseflies pursue people. For one, they are attracted to moving objects, especially dark moving objects that are warm. So if you start moving away, they follow you. And it seems horseflies enjoy hunting in warm weather more than cooler.

How do you keep horse flies from biting you?

Preventative measures to prevent bites

  1. Use barriers such as anti-midge/fly rugs and neck covers, plus fly masks and other protective gear.
  2. If the weather is changable, a fly rug with water resistant top panel may be useful.
  3. Apply a long-lasting fly spray, using a spot test on a small area first to test for sensitivity.

Do horsefly bites hurt?

Do horsefly bites sting? In most cases, a bite will result in a raised, red area of skin, which might be painful and sensitive to touch. In extreme cases, bites can cause an allergic reaction that can result in dizziness, swelling and fluid-filled blisters that become infected.

What plants repel horse flies?

Herbs That Repel You can grow herbs like basil, spearmint, bay, lemon balm, catnip, lavender and tansy in pots; these strong smelling herbs work magic on keeping horseflies away from your garden and house.

Where do horse flies nest?

Horse fly development sites are freshwater and saltwater marshes and streams, moist forest soils and even moist decomposing wood. Females usually deposit egg masses on wet soil or vegetation that overhangs water. Larvae are active in moist or wet organic matter and look similar to house fly maggots.

How fast is a horsefly?

There are other insects that fly faster, but their air speeds have not yet been accurately measured. For example, though not proven, dragonflies have been said to fly at 60 mph and horse flies at 90 mph!

What do horse flies dislike?

Look for other ingredients in sprays — or make your own with natural oils — that are believed to be offensive to horse flies. These include peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, clove, rosemary, basil, tea tree, lemongrass, catnip and cedar.

Do horse flys have teeth?

These insects don’t have teeth — not even the types of flies known to bite. Instead, they eat by partially liquifying it so they can siphon it with their mouthparts. The flies’ specialized feet receptors allow the creatures to begin enjoying a meal the instant they land.

Do horse flies have enemies?

Horse flies are not without predators – birds eat both adults and larvae; nematodes and wasps parasitize the larvae, and adults are captured by solitary wasps to provision their egg caches and by spiders.

Do horse flies eat dead animals?

In the larval stage, horseflies eat tiny organisms found in water or on land, along with decaying materials. Horseflies can remain in the larval stage for up to three years.

Do pools attract horse flies?

Horse flies and deer flies are biting insects that are drawn to water, movement and carbon dioxide. This makes people in pools an attractive target. The flies are especially active on warm, still days when you are most likely to want to use your pool.

What Do Horseflies Eat?

Horseflies are a sort of fly that bites and feeds on the blood of numerous types of animals, despite their name. Aside from causing agony to their victims, these acute, painful bites have the ability to spread illness. Only the female of the species consumes blood; the males, on the other hand, feed on nectar from plants.

Horsefly Larvae

Female horseflies typically lay their eggs near bodies of water. Horseflies feed on microscopic creatures that they find in water or on land, as well as decaying materials, when they are in their larval stage. Horseflies can stay in the larval stage for up to three years before emerging from the egg.

Horsefly Attacks

Female horseflies are attracted to cattle, horses, goats, and sheep, among other animals. They land on their victim and cut an entrance in it with their blade-like jaws, savoring the blood that is drawn from the wound. Horseflies bite livestock on a regular basis, causing severe blood loss and perhaps anemia in the animals. In order to obtain her blood meal from as many animals as possible in a herd, a single horsefly may wander from one animal to another in the herd to obtain it. The application of fly repellents on a regular basis provides cattle with some protection from these pesky insects.

Horse Fly Control: Get Rid of Horse Flies in the House

  • A horse fly’s body can be anywhere between 12 and 14 inches long depending on its size. Color: They are either black or gray in appearance. Eyes: People with huge, dazzling green eyes are common. Antennes: Horse flies all have antennae that are shorter than the length of their bodies


The female horse fly, which feeds on blood, has blade-like mouthparts that cut tissues and blood arteries, causing blood to flow to the wounds they produce. Females then soaking up blood with their sponge-like mouthparts is what they are known for. Males solely eat on pollen and nectar, and their mouthparts are identical to females’, but considerably weaker.

Horse Fly vs. Deer Fly

Horse flies and deer flies are closely related, and both are members of the Tabanidae family. The two most distinguishing characteristics of them are their total size and the shape of their wings. Horse flies are often significantly bigger than other species, with a stouter body and a very massive head with extremely huge eyes. When it comes to their wings, they are often transparent or hazy, whereas deer flies have black bands or patches across their wings.


While male horse flies feed on pollen and plant nectars, female horse flies are aggressive blood feeders, whilst female horse flies do not.

Finding Prey

When it comes to finding hosts, female horse flies employ a combination of chemical and visual signals in the same way that other blood sucking insects do, such as mosquitoes. A long-range indication provided by warm-blooded animals attracts horse flies from a distance, whereas visual cues such as motion, size, form, and dark color attract horse flies from a shorter distance, according to the National Horsefly Association.


They hardly seldom bite close to the head. In addition to animals of practically all sizes, horse flies also have a wide range of hosts that include humans and their pets, as well as cattle.

If a female horse fly is interrupted while attempting to feed, she will fly away but immediately return to bite another host, or she will proceed to another host to take a whole blood meal from that host.

Horse Fly Bites vs. Deer Fly Bites

Large, non-moving creatures are frequently bitten on the legs or torso by female horse flies. Deer flies, on the other hand, attack moving hosts and tend to target high-up on the body, such as the head or neck, to feed.


When someone is bitten, they may experience the following symptoms and bite reactions:

  • The bite area will swell and become itchy, then the swelling will subside. Itching and scratching of bite wounds that persists for an extended period of time and can result in subsequent bacterial infections if the bite is not cleaned and sanitized
  • The fact that horse flies inject anticoagulant-containing saliva while feeding on humans increases the risk of significant responses, particularly among those who are strongly sensitive to the anticoagulant chemicals. An itchy rash all over the body, wheezing, swelling around the eyes, swelling of the lips, and dizziness or weakness are all possible symptoms.

ReproductionLife Cycle

Horse fly growth areas include freshwater and saltwater marshes and streams, wet forest soils, and even rotting wood that has soaked up moisture from the environment. In most cases, females lay their egg masses on damp soil or vegetation that overhangs bodies of water. Larvae are active in organic stuff that is damp or wet, and they have a similar appearance to house fly maggots. Depending on the species, horse flies have anywhere from 6 to 13 larval stages. The pupal stage begins in the spring after the last larval stage has completed its overwintering period.

Fertile females will deposit their eggs on the undersides of leaves, and the larvae will hatch out and drop off the leaf in around 2-3 days after the eggs have been laid.

Horse Fly Larvae vs. Deer Fly Larvae

During field study, researchers discovered that horse fly larvae prey on midges, crane flies, and even other horse fly larvae. As a result of their cannibalistic tendencies, horse fly larvae are typically seen living in isolation. Deer fly larvae, on the other hand, tend to congregate in large numbers. Pupae do not consume food. When it comes to producing viable fly eggs, female horse flies require a blood meal to be successful. A female can lay anywhere between 100 and 800 eggs every year.


Horse flies are present in nearly every region of the United States, and there are more than 160 different species to be found.

Prevention Tips

However, even the most potent insect repellents are only somewhat successful in keeping insects away. A better alternative for prevention is to cover and protect exposed areas of the body in order to lessen the probability of being bitten by horse flies.


Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links to third-party companies such as Chewy, Amazon, and others. When you purchase something through one of these links, you are helping us to advance our aim to educate people about the world’s species. Occasionally, when a mosquito bites a person, they are unaware of the bite until the itching begins. The horsefly’s bite, on the other hand, is not subtle at all. Because her mouthparts are similar in design to a Swiss Army knife, she seems to employ all of them at the same time when obtaining the blood meal she requires.

Despite the fact that the horsefly, like the mosquito, is one of those insect pests that is ready for eradication, the eradication of such a widespread and persistent species does not appear to be realistic at this time.

5 Incredible Horsefly Facts!

  • The horsefly’s bite is not only unpleasant, but it also has the potential to transmit illnesses such as anthrax. If a horsefly larva lives in water, it has a siphon at the end of its body that allows it to breathe air
  • Otherwise, it does not. The horsefly larva, on the other hand, bites quite strongly. Horseflies only bite during the day, and especially on calm and sunny days
  • They are not active at night. It is the horsefly that is the world’s fastest flying insect, with the fastest recorded horsefly traveling at 90 miles per hour.

Horsefly Scientific name

Horseflies are members of theTabanusgenus, which has more than 1300 species and hundreds of subspecies, according to the International Union of Naturalists. The term Tabanus was coined by the ancient Roman scholar Pliny the Younger to refer to the animal, and it is currently used to refer to the genus as well. The American horsefly (T. americanus) is a species of fly found in North America. It may be found throughout the United States and Canada, from Kansas to New Hampshire and from Florida to Texas, as suggested by its particular epithet, which is It may also be found in the province of Ontario.


The black horsefly is also known as the dull black horsefly, and its name is derived from the Latin term for dull black.

  • There are several species of T. catenatus, including the gladiator, T. darimonti, T. nigripes, T. ochrogster, T. tuberculatus, T. proximus, T. eggeri, T. quinquevittatus, T. fairchildi, T indistinctus, T. zythicolor, and T. xanthogaster.

Horsefly Appearance

Horseflies are referred to as “trueflies” in some circles. As a result, they only have one set of wings and are equipped with balancing halteres that are located just below the base of their wings. Halteres are responsible for horseflies’ ability to do acrobatic maneuvers in flying.

Articles Mentioning Horsefly

Check out all of our amusing and thought-provoking animal articles. If you look closely at horseflies, you will see that they are large and have large compound eyes that can be vividly colored or display iridescence when viewed in certain lighting conditions. Males may be distinguished from females by the fact that their eyes are practically touching, but females’ eyes are apart. A ring surrounds the end of their antenna, which is otherwise hairless. In addition to having hairs on the fly’s head and thorax, which is the center section of its body, the fly’s wings are either transparent or either a hazy gray or brown color.

  • Small changes in the shape of their heads, the pattern of veins in their wings, and color patterns on their bodies can help distinguish between different kinds of birds.
  • The men have a single pair of mandibles and no maxillae.
  • Hippocampal larvae or maggots are long and tapered at the head end, with the head having the ability to retract.
  • They range in length from 10 to 30 millimeters and can be found in damp or moist environments.

The pupa is similarly between 10 and 30 millimeters in length and is brown and lustrous in appearance. Once through its shell, a faint silhouette of an adult fly may be made out. A horsefly sitting on the underside of a green leaf Photograph courtesy of Wong Gunkid/Shutterstock.com

Horsefly vs. Deerfly

Horseflies and deerflies are both members of theTabanidaefamily, and they are both known to attack people. Deerflies, as opposed to horseflies, are more prone to bite people than are horseflies. However, there are some notable distinctions between the two of them. Horseflies are significantly larger in size than deerflies. Horseflies are between a half inch and an inch and a quarter in length, whereas deerflies are between a quarter and a third of an inch in length, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

See also:  How Many Pounds Can A Horse Carry?

The deerfly’s antennae are long and thin in appearance.

Animals that are moving are exclusively bitten by deerflies, but horses are bitten by horseflies regardless of whether the animal is moving.

Horsefly Behavior

The vast majority of horseflies do not go very far from their place of birth, yet some can travel more than 40 kilometers. When they need to take a break, they can be found in the center of the road, on a path, or in low-hanging vegetation. The insects are diurnal, which means that they do not bite throughout the night and that they bite less on overcast, chilly, and windy days. They are drawn to lights, such as porch lights, and might congregate in large quantities to fly about them at certain times of day.

The majority of horseflies target the legs, ankles, or backs of the knees of their victim, whereas deerflies prefer the nape of the neck, the top of the head, and the shoulders of their prey.

Horsefly Habitat

Horseflies can be found in almost every ecosystem on the planet, with the exception of those that experience extremes of temperature or those that are extremely dry. It does need to deposit its eggs near bodies of water or in wet conditions, and it also need a habitat with enough animals to give adequate nourishment for the mother to raise her young.

Horsefly Diet

In between lapping blood, the female and the male consume nectar and other plant liquids to keep themselves nourished. Some horseflies are actually beneficial pollinators, and this is true of some species. However, in order for the female to procreate, she need a blood meal. When it comes to hunting for prey, the female horsefly is quite similar to the female mosquito. In addition to black fur or clothing, the carbon dioxide that the prey exhales as well as the warmth and texture of their body all attract her attention.

  1. They will even eat the remains of an animal that has recently died.
  2. If she is swatted away, she will at the very least make an effort to return so she may finish her food.
  3. Horseflies are mostly solitary insects, however some attack in groups.
  4. Horsefly maggots are also fierce predators that prey on other insects.

Frogs and toads are among the creatures that they will consume if they are tiny enough. Not only that, but the larvae appear to be poisonous, since prey is subdued after being bitten by one of the creatures.

Horsefly Predators and Threats

Horsefly eggs are utilized by parasitic wasps to nurture their own eggs, which is why they are called horsefly eggs. Tachinid flies and microscopic worms known as nematodes are the primary predators of maggots. They are also preyed on by birds and other animals, and they are susceptible to fungus. Horseflies that have matured are also devoured by birds. In spite of its frightening appearance, the soft-bodied, stingless horsefly have no natural defenses against anything that wishes to consume it.

Having rendered the fly incapacitated, she flies it back to the nest, where it will be devoured alive by her larvae.

What Eats the Horsefly?

Horseflies are preyed on by birds, wasp larvae, and other predators that prey on flies, among other things.

What Does the Horsefly Eat?

Horseflies consume nectar and plant juices, while female horseflies, of course, consume human blood.

Horsefly Reproduction and Life Cycle

Following their emergence from their pupae, horseflies begin reproducing almost immediately. It is possible that a male horsefly invasion is taking place, with males flying to hilltops and woodlands in search of females. When a guy goes by, she is pursued by him. In the event that she accepts him, they’ll mate for half an hour before feeding on her. This can only occur when the weather is warm and clear, as it is now. Some female horseflies only mate once throughout their lives, whereas others mate several times.

  • She has the ability to lay anywhere between 100 and 1000 eggs at a time.
  • After that, they fall into the water or into the damp earth, depending on the situation.
  • After two weeks, the case breaks apart, and the fly drags itself out of the case by its own strength.
  • The complete life cycle of a horsefly maggot, including molts and pupation, can span up to three years as it passes through several stages.

Horsefly Population

Due to the fact that there are over a thousand different species and subspecies of horsefly, it is reasonable to state that they are plentiful and do not appear to be in danger of extinction. Efforts to exterminate the species are fruitless. Attempts to manage horseflies have been made by humans for millennia, with varying degrees of success. Insecticides cannot be used in areas where horseflies and their larvae are present due to the environmental harm caused by insecticides. A horsefly that is determined to bite will withstand even the most effective insect repellents designed to keep mosquitoes away from the area.

  1. Another option is to employ a trap, such as a carbon dioxide-based malaise trap or a Manitoba trap, to capture the horseflies.
  2. View all 59animals that begin with HF When a horsefly bites you, she uses her cutting stylets to rip into your flesh, causing the wound to swell and get infected.
  3. Telmophagy is the term used to describe this.
  4. Wash the wound well and use a cold compress, taking care not to scrape the area.
  5. In addition, unlike a mosquito, the female horsefly does not go to the bother of injecting an anesthetic into the bite so that you do not feel it.
  6. Female horseflies can be considered omnivores since they consume nectar, plant fluids, and blood in addition to nectar.
  7. Horseflies and houseflies differ significantly in a number of important ways.

Female horseflies require blood to receive the protein necessary for them to breed, and she is persistent in her hunt. A horsefly can be distinguished from a housefly by the fact that a female horsefly will actively pursue you!

Horse Flies and Deer Flies

|Download the PDF version of ENTFACT-511: Horse Flies and Deer Flies.

by Lee Townsend, Extension EntomologistUniversity of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Horse Fly and Deer Fly are two types of flies. Horse flies and deer flies are both bloodsucking insects that may be a major annoyance to cattle, horses, and people. Horse flies and deer flies are both considered to be a serious pest to humans. Horse flies are around 3/4 to 1-1/4 inches in length and have transparent or strongly colored wings, as well as brilliantly colored eyes, in most cases. Deer flies, which are smaller than horse flies and regularly bite humans, have dark bands across their wings and colored eyes that are similar to those of horse flies.

  1. The quantity of flies and the severity of their onslaught varies from one year to the next, depending on the season.
  2. It is possible that animals will harm themselves when fleeing from the insects.
  3. For their meal, Webb and Wells projected that horse flies would drink 1 cc of blood and that 20 to 30 flies dining for 6 hours would consume 20 tablespoons of blood, according to a USDA Bulletin 1218.
  4. Flies such as horse flies and deer flies are more active during the daytime hours.
  5. Once they have taken up residence on a host, they slit the skin with their knife-like mouthparts and feed on the blood pool that has formed.
  6. The soreness and swelling caused by bites normally subside within a few days.
  7. Bites may be painful, and general first aid-type skin lotions can assist to alleviate the discomfort.
  8. In terms of animal pests, male flies are of no significance because they feed on nectar.
  9. The fly’s painful bites usually provoke a response from the victim, and the fly is compelled to move on to another host as a result.


It is the muck around the borders of ponds and streams, as well as marshes and seepage sites, where horse fly and deer fly larvae grow and mature. Some are aquatic, while others grow in soil that is rather dry. Females lay batches of 25 to 1,000 eggs on vegetation that grows over water or in moist areas, depending on the species. They descend to the ground and feed on decaying organic debris as well as tiny creatures in the soil or water, which they acquire via this process.

The larval stage, which can last anywhere from one to three years depending on the species, is the most common. In order to pupate and eventually emerge as adults, mature larvae must crawl to drier locations.


During the summer, deer flies are generally only active for brief periods of time at a time. Repellents such as Deet and Off (N-diethyl-metatoluamide) can give up to several hours of protection when used outside. Follow the directions on the label since some people might develop allergies after using a product for a long period of time. Also, check for age limitations. Permethrin-based repellents are intended for use on clothes alone, however they often give a longer duration of protection than other repellents.

Even after a remedy has been administered, these flies will continue to swarm and annoy you.

Hats with mesh face and neck veils, as well as neckerchiefs, may provide some protection under severe circumstances.


Horse flies and deer flies may be a real annoyance when they congregate near swimming pools. They may be drawn to the water by the gleaming surface or by the movement of the swimmers in the water. There are currently no viable recommendations for addressing this issue. Permethrin-based sprays are approved for use on animals and horses, according to the label. Because these pesticides are extremely unpleasant to the flies, they are forced to flee nearly soon after landing on the surface. Frequently, the flies do not come into touch with the pesticide for long enough to be killed, and as a result, they continue to be an irritation.

It is possible that repeated applications will be required.

In addition, pyrethrin sprays are effective, although their effectiveness does not continue as long as permethrin.

In the daytime, if animals have access to shelter, they will be able to avoid the relentless onslaught of these vexing pests.


It is extremely difficult to detect and/or destroy the breeding sites of horse flies and deer flies, and it is nearly impossible to do so. The fact that they spawn in environmentally sensitive wetlands raises concerns about the implications of drainage or pesticide treatment on non-target creatures or water supplies. Furthermore, these insects are excellent flyers and have the ability to move in from a distance. Breeding sites may be quite large or located a long distance distant from the location where the issues are occurring.

Some changes in behavior or the use of repellents may be necessary to allow for enjoyment of the outdoors.


Some goods may not be legal to use in your state or nation, depending on where you live.

As a reminder, ALWAYS READ AND COMPLY WITH LABELED INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE! Images courtesy of the University of Kentucky Entomology Department

Horsefly (Tabanidae) — EcoSpark

The tabanidae family has more than 4,500 different species.

  • These include the deer fly and the horse fly, to name a few examples. They may be found all throughout the world, although they are most prevalent in North America during the summer months. As adults, horse flies are more common around water areas, as here is where they develop into full-grown insects.


Tabanidae larvae are predators, collectors, and even cannibals, and they are found in a variety of habitats.

  • The larvae mostly consume tiny species such as insects, crabs, snails, earthworms, and other small invertebrates
  • But, they will occasionally consume larger organisms. Tabanidae larvae will also devour other tabanidae larvae if they can find them. Although deer flies are primarily predators, they also feed on organic detritus from animals or plants that has been deposited within the substrate
  • This is known as deer fly feeding. Feeding is accomplished by the use of chewing or ripping mouthparts. Adults mostly consume plant nectar and other plant liquids in order to gain the energy they need to fly
  • Nevertheless, A further consideration is that female adults require mammalian blood in order to reproduce. The adult females’ blood-sucking bites may be quite painful to animals
  • The bites of the young females are less unpleasant.


Tabanidae larvae are usually found in bodies of water such as ponds, marshes, and streams.

  • These animals can also be found in salt marshes, swamps, bogs, shallow lakes, and around the edge of bodies of water (in freshwater ecosystems, this is referred to as the ‘riparian zone’). It is only by burrowing deep into the sand or gravel substrate of the water body that it is able to live. They are most commonly found in regions where the water is sluggish to move (called pools), while certain species can be found in areas where the water is quick to move (called riffles)
  • And


  • In humans, horse fly bites can cause serious health issues, such as severe sores, high fever, and even permanent impairment. The saliva of horse and deer flies, which they inject into their hosts’ bodies in order to avoid blood clotting around the location where they have been bitten, can cause allergic reactions in certain people. Female horse flies are more likely to bite during the daytime. They are drawn to mammals by the movement, carbon dioxide (which mammals exhale), warmth, and reflective surfaces that they encounter. Horse flies have gorgeous eyes
  • They are generally vividly colored and often have patterns and stripes
  • They are also known as “horse flies.” Horse flies have five segments on their antennae, which are thick at the base and get smaller with each segment as they move up the body. The antennae of deer flies are long and slender throughout their body. Horse fly wings are normally either totally black or fully transparent, depending on the species. Deer fly wings, on the other hand, are patterned.
See also:  How Much Does A Quarter Horse Weigh? (Perfect answer)

Life Cycle

Tabanidae go through a full metamorphosis, which entails passing through all four phases of life in their entirety. It is divided into four stages: the egg, the larvae, the pupa, and the adult. Egg

  • From a few eggs to several hundred eggs, the egg mass deposited by the female can range in size from her to her. Most of the time, the bulk is deposited on the vegetation that hangs over the water’s edge. The eggs are black and lustrous in appearance, and they are formed like spindles. They hatch within five to twelve days, and the larvae fall into water or damp soil to begin their life cycle.
  • As soon as the larvae have dropped into the water after hatching, they burrow into the river substrate or the ground along the river bank, where they will spend the winter. According to some estimates, it can take the larvae between one and three years to complete the six to thirteen stages of development (known as ‘instars’) that are characteristic of the Tabanidae life cycle. Larvae travel to drier soils in the late spring, where they develop into the pupal stage, which is the next life stage.
  • The length of the pupal stage varies depending on the species and climate, although it can last anywhere between six and twelve days.
  • Upon emergence from their pupal stage, Tabanidae adults immediately start a sexual relationship and begin feasting on blood. Adults are excellent flyers that use their vision to locate their partners. Most species of horse and deer flies have just one generation each year, and this is true for the majority of them.
  • Texas Insects in the Field is a field guide to the insects of Texas (1999). The Diptera Site is run by Irina Brake (2010). The Tabanidae are a family of fish. The Canadian Biodiversity Website is accessible at (2010). Horse flies and deer flies are two types of flies. The Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture is a prestigious institution (2010). Horse flies and deer flies are two types of flies. The Guide to Aquatic Invertebrates of the Upper Midwest, published by the University of Minnesota, is available here (2004). Diptera can be found here at the University of Rhode Island (1999). Deer and Horse Flies are two types of flies. BugGuide is a collection of information on bugs (2016). Tabanidae? Tabanus mularis is a kind of banana. Availablehere

Horse Fly

Common Name Horse Fly
Scientific Name Tabanus sp.(Diptera: Tabanidae)
Size 2/3 inches long
Colour Yellow-white to pinkish thick, tough skin
  • Unlike honey bees, adult flies are dark and hairy, strong, and approximately 2/3-inch long, visually resembling them except for the fact that they have only one pair of wings instead of two. The horse bot fly’s wings have slight smoky patches on them, similar to those of a bat. Fully-grown larvae (maggots) are up to 2/3 inch long and have thick, tough skin that ranges from yellow-white to pinkish in color. A pair of powerful, hook-like mouthparts are present on one end (the rear) and a blunt end (the front) on the other (the front). A ring of strongspines surrounds each segment of the body. Several additional species of bot flies are seen on horses, including the chin flyorthroat bot fly, Gasterophilus nasalis(Linnaeus), and the lipornose bot fly, Gasterophilus haemorrhoidalis(Linnaeus) and the lipornose bot fly, Gasterophilus haemorrhoidalis(Linnaeus). Horse flies are distinguished in part by the form of their eggs
  • They eat by sucking blood and may produce a painful and severe bite if they bite the victim. These flying pests are closely related to Deer flies in both appearance and behavior. Horse flies are similar in appearance to Deer flies, but are slightly bigger in size. A dark pattern can be seen on the wings of this fly, and its body can be either brown or black in color. The female of the species feeds on animal blood, while the male of the species is a pollen collector. Horse flies lay their eggs in marshy places near bays, lakes, ponds, and swamps, where they hatch into adult flies. These flies have larvae that feed on insects and may be seen growing in wetlands
  • The female of the species feeds on animal blood, while the male of the species is a pollen collector. Horse flies lay their eggs in marshy places near bays, lakes, ponds, and swamps, where they hatch into adult flies. Insect-eating larvae of this fly can be seen growing in wetlands where they feed on insects.
  • The majority of horse flies and deer flies may be found in brushy or low-lying pasture regions near creeks, streams, or tanks that offer enough moisture for the development of the juvenile stages. Magnagogues have mouth hooks that tear tissue in the digestive systems
  • Adults do not have mouthparts that are capable of tearing tissue. Horses, mules, and donkeys are the most common hosts. In their attempt to lay eggs on hostanimals, adult female flies force horses to run and defend themselves against fly “attacks” (hovering, buzzing, and hitting), which can result in harm in some cases. Larvae dwell in the digestive tract, where they cause damage to the tongue, lips, stomach lining, and intestines, among other things. Apparently, they get their energy from the inflammatory chemicals released by the host in response to their presence. Infestations result in mechanical harm to the host animal as well as an infected ulcerous condition that causes the host animal to starve.
  • This species’ larvae grow in the digestive systems of host animals throughout the winter months. Host excrement is contaminated with full-grown larvae that are discovered in the late winter and early spring months. Once they have reached this stage (instar), they burrow into the earth and construct a puparium out of the larval skin from their previous stage. It takes 3 to 10 weeks for them to develop into adult flies within the puparium
  • Adults are active from mid-summer until the end of the summer season. Female horses glue eggs to their coats, notably the coats of their front legs, but also the coats of their belly, shoulders, and rear legs, according to adult females. Depending on the appropriate stimulation (moisture, heat, and friction) provided by the horse licking or chewing egg-infested hair, eggs can hatch in 10 to 140 days. The larvae of the first stage (instar) enter the mouth and burrow into the tongue for around 28 days before molting and traveling to the stomach, where they remain for 9 to 10 months, growing into the third stage after approximately 5 weeks of development. Every year, there is a new generation.
  • In addition, they are major vectors of illnesses such as leucocytozoa and turkey sickness.
  • Adult horse fly and deer fly larvae are very ferocious biters. They cause animals to lose weight and have the potential to spread illnesses such as anaplasmosis, anthrax, and others.
  • Because of the nature of this fly, it is hard to completely remove it by spraying operations. The Advantage Fly Trap is the only trap that has had any success with biting flies (such as the Horse fly and the Stable fly). However, the success has been limited in the past. In certain circumstances, the revolutionary technology of this product allows us to attract and trap blood-sucking flies for the first time, which is a first in the industry. Yet, the results vary depending on the species and location
  • However, this trap may capture a wide variety of flies. If Horse Flies are discovered within a building, make sure that all probable access routes have been removed. They will not be discovered reproducing indoors in the same way that a house fly would be. The most effective method of controlling flies is to eliminate all available breeding grounds and food sources. As evidenced by the horse fly’s biology, this form of fly control is nearly impossible with this particular species.

What use are biting horseflies?

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the woods in northern climates is familiar with the horsefly’s venomous bite. In comparison to their more delicate relative, the mosquito, which gently bites you and silently suckers your blood, they’re a lot more aggressive. The horsefly, on the other hand, has the ability to sneak up on you and attack. Their mouth parts do not puncture you pleasantly in the manner of a mosquito. “The horsefly’s mouth parts are shaped like a jig saw,” says the author.

According to Oddvar Hanssen, a senior engineer at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, “this is why we feel the bite quickly.” It then spits into the wound, preventing the blood from clotting, at least until a section of its mouth is used to sponge up our blood, at which point it dies.

Perhaps it makes more sense to be stealthy, as in the case of the mosquito.

A primitive species of fly

According to Hanssen, the horsefly and the mosquito are closely related, but they have evolved to occupy distinct positions on the evolutionary tree as a result of their divergent evolutionary histories. In order to live and breed, the horsefly has adapted his behavior to suit his own needs. One important consideration is that the female need a lot of blood in order to create eggs. In Norway, there are 32 different species of horsefly. There are around 4,000 species in the globe. (Photo courtesy of Eric Steinert / Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0) Both mosquitoes and horseflies are members of the order Diptera, which is the scientific term for a vast group of flies that includes a variety of different species.

Only the female is capable of sucking blood.

Studying horseflies

In Norway, there aren’t many researchers that are interested in horseflies. When it comes to the horsefly, just one scholarly study from Norway can be found, according to ivind Gammelmo of the Biofokus Foundation. The page discusses the distribution of several varieties of horseflies in Norway and their characteristics. Norway is home to over 44,000 species of animals, birds, insects, plants, and other things that are known to science. There might be as many as 60,000 different creatures on the planet, according to scientific estimates.

“A lot of people believe that we have cataloged all of the species in Norway, but that is not the case,” says the researcher.

For example, we discover five to ten new species every year,” says Hanssen, who specializes in beetles and has discovered five to ten new species so far this year. Horseflies are known to exist in Norway in 32 different species, according to researchers.

Does not have great economic value

The horsefly performs a purpose in the ecosystem, however it is unclear what that function is at this time. (Photo courtesy of Magne Flten / Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.) Beyond just knowing how many different species of horseflies there are, why aren’t they being investigated further? It is not the horsefly species that is responsible for the most devastation. According to Gammelmo, “the reindeer warble fly and the cow warble fly, which are frequently mistaken for horseflies, can cause injury to animals.” The horsefly, on the other hand, is more of an inconvenience than a serious threat.

As a result, when the horsefly has been counted, identified as to where it lives, and categorised, the horsefly receives little more attention from scientists.

Something eats them

According to Hanssen, the horsefly has found a place in the ecology where it may thrive. He explained that it sucks blood for nourishment and to breed, and that it should be considered a part of the planet’s biodiversity, although an inconvenient one. And because horseflies are eaten by birds, the insects do serve a purpose, according to Gammelmo, despite the fact that it is not known how much of a bird’s diet is comprised of horseflies. As with all other insects and animals, they are a component of the environment.” Horseflies play an important role in the food chain and the ecology, just as other insects and animals do,” adds Dr.

– Visit forskning.no to read the Norwegian translation of this article.

Related content

What is it that is bothering you? Anyone who has spent time outside during the summer months has almost certainly been bitten by horse flies, which can be extremely unpleasant. Not only do people, but also domestic and wild animals, suffer greatly from the mere fear of being attacked by these extremely tenacious bloodsuckers, which can last for days on end. Join Dr. Art Evans, an entomologist, and Steve Clark, a VPM radio producer, as they investigate the intriguing natural history and behaviors of horse flies.

  • Tabanids, as well as a few other unrelated species of biting flies, are sometimes referred to as clegs and gadflies.
  • Horse flies are fast-flying insects with a chunky appearance but a lot of agility.
  • When a male of one North American species pursued a female, it was recorded traveling at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour!
  • Themales have continuous compound eyes and very weakly developed mouthparts, which makes them unable of biting or chewing food.
  • In order to boost egg production, the majority of females are capable of biting because they require proteins from blood feeds.
  • Species divide up resources by attacking various regions of the organism at the same time, dividing up resources.
  • Recent research has revealed that the stripes of zebras impair the visual acuity of tabanids, making it more difficult for them to land a bite.

The hatching larvae descend into the water or dirt near damp shorelines within a week of their hatching.

They lack a discernible head and have no legs.

It may be identified from all other tabanids on the continent by the fact that it has a distinctive greenish colour.

Adult females consume their blood meals at night and track their prey by monitoring carbon dioxide released by their exhalation.

Light-colored long trousers and long-sleeved shirts, together with hats, are recommended.

In addition, applying insect repellents like DEET, picaridin, or lemon-eucalyptus oil to exposed skin can be beneficial. A second amusing tale from WBY about flies discovered in the Richmond Courthouse is presented here.

10 Natural Horsefly Predators That Eat Them

What animals consume this pest species on a natural basis? The following is a list of the most frequent horsefly predators. Horseflies may be a nightmare for anyone who live in an area where they are prevalent. These pests are well-known for preying on mammals, including people and other animals, in order to obtain food. Here is a list of the foods that horseflies consume. In truth, only female horseflies are known to consume human blood. Adult males will often eat on organic stuff found on plants in addition to nectar.

  • We are not interested in digging into the specifics of horsefly feeding, though.
  • Horseflies are a fascinating subject to study since they are known to inflict pain on their prey while they are feeding.
  • So, do such predators exist in the real world?
  • Horseflies are preyed upon by a variety of predators, who hunt them down and consume them.

Natural Predators That Prey On Horseflies

Fortunately, there is a lengthy list of horsefly predators out there who enjoy eating horseflies. To put it another way, horseflies are among the insects on their menu. Sparrows, Killdeer, Black-headed Grosbeak, Swallows, and Warblers are just a few of the birds that frequent this area. Hornets, Bembicini, Dragonflies, Parasitoid Wasps, and Tachinidae are among the other families of wasps. Having these horsefly predators in your immediate vicinity can greatly assist you in containing an infestation.

What Animal, Bird, Or Insect Eats Horseflies?

Here are some extra information about these predators to help you better understand their behavior:


Among the many sparrow species that may be named as horsefly predators, the house sparrow is one that springs to mind right away. Not only does this species prey on horseflies, but it also hunts down and consumes other forms of insects. In addition to seeds and grains, house sparrows consume a broad variety of other things. Female house sparrows are distinguished by their grey and dull brown coloring, and male house sparrows are distinguished by their white, brown, and black spots. These horsefly predators are gregarious birds that travel in large groups and like to congregate in areas near human settlements.


Killdeers are little birds that may be found in marshes and eat on a variety of insects. They are sometimes mistaken for crows. Horseflies are among the insects that are included in their nutritional selection. Female horseflies have recently been shown to go to wetlands in order to lay eggs. Killdeers take advantage of this by feasting on them at the most appropriate time of year. Nature has a fascinating method of restoring balance to the environment. After learning about the presence of horseflies, you should be filled with a great sense of happiness, knowing that such pests will be eliminated sooner or later.

Black-headed Grosbeak

In addition to being migratory birds, these horsefly predators may be found in and near gardens as well as thickets and woodlands. Knowing that horseflies avoid shaded places, it’s important to understand how these predators get to them. The solution is straightforward: black-headed grosbeaks are on the prowl for horseflies. The beaks of this bird species are thick, massive, and conical in shape. Mature males have a blackhead on their forehead as well as an orange body. Other ladies and males have orange spots on their chests, with the majority of their body being brown.

In terms of feeding choices, black-headed grosbeaks have a diverse range of options that include monarch butterflies and snails as well as pine, seeds, berries, and fruits. Horseflies, of course, are among the insects that they enjoy to consume.


There are various names for swallows, including martins and saw-wings, which are all variations of the word swallow. This species of fast-moving birds is well adapted to predators because they have keen vision, which allows them to detect or notice prey (including horseflies) from a long distance. Swallows eat a variety of foods, including insects, grains, and seeds. In flying, horseflies are fed or preyed upon, and this is practiced. It is preferable for swallows to live in open spaces or huge regions that offer them greater freedom of movement, as well as in close proximity to natural water bodies.


These horsefly predators are available in a variety of hues, including dull brown and greenish. Warblers may be found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, marches, and wooded areas. Horseflies are one of their preferred prey, and they catch them in large numbers. Seeds and berries are included in other types of diets.


Hornets generally eat on plant organic matter as well as nectar, according to their diet. However, their larvae are believed to be carnivorous, despite the fact that they are herbivorous. Horseflies, among other insects, are used to supplement the diet of these creatures. Adult hornets are known as horsefly predators, and they are always on the lookout for victims. Horseflies, when collected, are now too huge to be eaten or fed on by hornet larvae, thus they are released. As a result, their carcass is sliced into pieces by strong jaws before being eaten.


Bambini is a wasp species that preys on horseflies and is found in the United States. Sand wasps are another name for this species. Bembicini, like hornets, forage for horseflies and a range of other pests in the same manner as hornets. These are collected and returned to their carnivorous larval stage, when they will feed on other insects.


Dragonflies require a substantial amount of food on a daily basis. They eat a broad range of insects, which is reflected in their food choices. Horseflies are included in this category. Not only do mature dragonflies prey on horseflies, but their larvae (which are those of dragonflies) are also preyed on and eaten by dragonfly nymphs, who are also known as dragonfly nymphs.

Parasitoid Wasps

Horsefly predators of this type are small and unable to feed on adult horseflies because of their small size. Isn’t that confusing? Horsefly pupa, eggs, and larvae are the insects that are targeted and eaten. This beneficial function guarantees that horsefly infestations are stopped at the earliest feasible stage, which is critical.


Tachinidae are parasitic predators that feed on other organisms. Their primary prey are horsefly eggs, which they consume in the same way that parasitoid wasps do. In addition, Tachinidae will quickly feed on the pupae, larvae, and eggs of any insect they come into contact with.

Are Horsefly Predators Enough?

Depending just on predators is insufficient and will not totally eliminate or devastate horsefly populations in the long run. Even if you take precautions to avoid being bitten by these insects, you will continue to be attacked by them. Wearing enough clothing to cover your entire body is one of the many preventative actions you should take. Horseflies are well-known for latching onto your skin in order to get their fill of human blood. They will find it lot simpler if you don’t try to hide your identity from them.

  1. There isn’t much you can do in terms of adopting preventative steps in this situation.
  2. Fortunately, the horsefly season is just a few weeks long.
  3. During these times, you may wish to schedule your day so that you only leave the house when absolutely necessary.
  4. Horsefly predators are a crucial part of nature’s ecosystem, since they help to preserve its long-term viability.

We’ve seen numerous predators that hunt on horseflies, and we’ll see more of them. Because of the discomfort caused by horsefly bites when extracting blood, it is comforting to know that the insects are also devoured.

Facts About Horse Flies

Horse flies (Tabanidae) are huge, aggressive insects that fly quite quickly. They are also highly spry flyers. Horse flies are among the biggest of all fly species, and there are around 3,000 different species of Horse flies in the globe. Females attack people and other animals (particularly horses and other livestock) in the hopes of obtaining blood meals for their young. Horse flies and Bot flies are referred to as “gadflies” in some circles. Horse flies might be a nuisance, but remember that you are not alone in feeling this way.

They were also a source of concern for the Vikings.

Continue reading for the most crucial facts about horse flies, as well as information on how to put preventative measures in place to keep you and your family safe from horse flies.

What Do Horse Flies Look Like?

Horse flies are available in a variety of colors ranging from yellowish-brown to dark grey to blackish in appearance, and they normally reach 3/4″ to 1.25″ in length. Their heads are disproportionately large in comparison to the rest of their bodies, and they are hairy all over, giving them a passing similarity to honey bees in appearance. They have just one set of wings, like all other genuine flies of theDipteraorder, which are delicately colored and covered with wispy dots, much like all other true flies of theDipteraorder.

Horse Flies vs. Deer Flies

Horse flies are frequently mistaken with Deer flies, which are also known to attack humans on a regular basis. Horse flies and Deer flies both have vividly colored eyes, however Deer flies are somewhat smaller than Horse flies. They are distinguished by the black stripes that run across their wings.

Where doHorse FliesCome From?

Aside from the polar extremes and few islands, such as Hawaii, horse flies may be found almost wherever on the planet, including the tropics. These fly prefer warm, wet environments where they may reproduce, although they can be found in a broad range of habitats, including deserts and alpine meadows, depending on the species. Horse flies are strictly outside creatures, and they do not feed or seek shelter indoors unless it is necessary. You may come across one who has mistakenly walked inside your home through an open window or door, in which case a flyswatter or a dependable indoor and outdoor fly spray will make fast work of it.

Horse Fly Habits

Most of the time, these flies may be found in valley meadows near creeks and streams, where they enjoy higher temperatures and more moisture, as well as regions where cattle and people can be located outside. Horse flies are not simply attracted to the open air (especially near pools of water, like mosquitoes). They also love bright sunshine and are most common throughout the summer months, and they seek to avoid dark, shaded regions when possible. Horse flies do not emerge from their lairs at night.

Females are the only ones who bite, as they have powerful, incisor-like mouthparts, whereas males have weak mouthparts, as shown in the photo.

Women (again, as is the case with mosquitoes) bite both animals and humans in order to collect protein in the form of a blood meal, which they use to fertilize eggs. During their development, horse fly larvae live in aquatic or semi-aquatic settings, where they prey on other smaller organisms.

What AttractsHorse Flies?

Female Horse flies can identify humans and animals by their colors and motions, and they are drawn to bright items, warmth, perspiration, and carbon dioxide emitted by humans and animals, among other things.

Can Horse Flies Bite?

Female horse fly bites are extremely painful, but what’s worse is that these insects have the ability to transmit germs and blood pollutants from one host to another. They have the potential to make animals and people severely ill, and in unsheltered cattle, they can even cause growth rates and milk supply to be lowered. If the person or animal who has been bitten has an allergy, the consequences are more severe. Blood-stained horse fly bites on people can cause rashes, dizziness, weakness, and wheezing, as well as other symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.

Likewise, scratching will exacerbate the itching and other side effects of mosquito bites.

Will Horse Flies Bite Your Dogs?

The scissor-like mouth of the female Horse fly can inflict painful bites not only on humans, but also on your dog. Even though the effects and minor irritation are only short-lived, your dog is still at risk for the same danger that comes with all biting pests: the spread of bacteria and other blood contaminants from the female Horse fly’s saliva. In addition to the belly, legs, and neck, larger dog breeds are the most prone to Horse fly attacks. The most common regions where dogs get attacked are the legs, abdomen, and neck.

TheHorse FlyLife Cycle

Female Horse flies deposit their eggs under gravel or plants in close proximity to a water source, but they do not need to be close to it. When the eggs hatch, the pale, spindly larvae crawl into a nearby body of water or moist soil, where they feed on tiny insects and even reptiles for the rest of their lives. When the horse fly larval stage is complete, it can continue up to a year, at which point the larvae burrow themselves into the earth in order to pupate. Horse flies mature after one to two weeks as pupae and another three to ten weeks as developing adults before emerging as fully fledged adults.

Helping Prevent a Horse Fly Problem Outdoors

Horse fly problems in suburban regions are less prevalent than in less-populated, rural locations, where there may be grassy, open fields and cattle in the vicinity. Ideally, pest control chemicals should not be utilized until all other options have been exhausted and the Horse fly problem has not been resolved. Citronella candles and ultraviolet bug zappers are two common cures for flies and other flying insects when used outdoors. Horse flies are not drawn to rubbish or animal corpses, but keeping your yard as clean of standing water as possible will help to keep them to a minimum (as well as mosquitoes, which are also attracted to standing water!)

Fly Killer Treatments

Products for Pest Control For spot-treatment of Horse flies, use a plant oil-based indoor fly killer such as Maggie’s Farm Home Bug Spray or Maggie’s Farm Flying Insect Killer, which are both highly effective. Plants despise flies and other insects just as much as you do, and the natural oils they create to defend themselves are incredibly powerful in killing and repelling insects of all kinds. If you want excellent personal protection against flies (and mosquitoes), use Maggie’s Farm Natural Insect Repellent, which is made from plant oils.

Always read and carefully follow the recommendations on the label of any pest control product, including those for storage and disposal.

Please share your thoughts with us!

TryMaggie’s Farm pest control solutions for efficient fly control in your house that has been scientifically proven and is safe for your family and the environment.

In order to be the most effective, our plant and mineral-based treatments are created by scientists and experienced pest control specialists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.