What Eats Horse Flies? (Solved)

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.

What are the Predators of a horse fly?

  • Black-Headed Grosbeak. Black-headed grosbeaks are songbirds with large,conical,thick bills.
  • Sparrows. Sparrows are among the most abundant birds in North America and can mostly be seen traveling in flocks.
  • Swallows.
  • Warblers.

What will keep horse flies away?

Prevention is very basic when it comes to the home. Keeping the house clean will help you avoid a whole mess of potential bug invaders. Horse flies also hate smoke, so burning candles or incense can help keep them away. Citronella candles will also deter other biting insects.

Do fly predators eat horse flies?

No. In fact one of the suppliers listed above, Spalding Labs wrote on their website pages back in 2012 that “Fly Predators, house fly traps and baits will have no impact ” on the horse fly species that include greenheads and deer flies.

Do hornets eat horse flies?

Also known as “cowfly tigers” and “insecto policia,” the wasps are specialist predators that chiefly attack horse flies. Naturally, the best place to hunt horse flies is around equines. The female wasps will fly around a horse, up and down each leg, searching for their prey.

Will a dragonfly eat a horse fly?

1. DRAGONFLIES EAT INSECTS. It’s not uncommon for a dragonfly to eat horseflies. They also dine on midges, mosquitoes, butterflies, and even smaller dragonflies, according to Woodland Trust.

What scent attracts horse flies?

What Attracts Horse Flies? Female Horse flies detect humans and animals by colors, and movements, they are attracted to shiny objects, warmth, sweat, and exhaled carbon dioxide.

Do fly predators work for biting flies?

Use Fly Predators to cull your house fly and biting stable fly populations and Fly Traps to keep any remaining flies that might come over from your neighbors at bay! Make sure you are Pick The Right Traps for the flies you’re trying to catch. A few other buggy biting flies are midges and no-see-ums.

Do chickens eat fly predators?

If your chicks are free range, you’ll need to be sneaky where you spread your Fly Predators out as the chickens will eat them.

What are the best fly predators?

The current mixture of species marketed under the trade name Fly Predators include: Muscidifurax raptorellus, Spalangia cameroni or Spalangia endius and Muscidifurax zaraptor, and at times insignificant quantities of other fly parasitoid species.

Do frogs eat horse flies?

Frogs eat invertebrates that are endemic to the region of the world they live in. Crickets, worms, flies, springtails, grasshoppers, moths, spiders, and other bugs are common sources of food for frogs.

Do horse flies carry diseases?

This is because horseflies carry equine infectious anemia, also known as swamp fever. When they bite an equine animal, they can transmit this life threatening disease. If infected, a horse may experience a fever, hemorrhaging, and general illness.

Do horse flies have tails?

Flies do not have tails, although some fly-like insects have long extensions protruding from the end of their body that resemble tails.

What good is a horse fly?

Along with many other flying insects, horseflies are also a key food source for many other animals higher up the food chain. They help underpin other, more charismatic species such as bats and birds, while the aquatic larvae of the insects feed fish.

What is the difference between Dragonfly and Horsefly?

is that horsefly is any of several medium- to large flies, of the family tabanidae, that suck the blood of mammals (not to be confused with stomoxys calcitrans, the stable fly, or ) while dragonfly is an insect of the suborder epiprocta or, more strictly, the infraorder anisoptera with four long transparent wings held

What causes horse flies in a house?

Horseflies enter homes through open doors and windows, especially when you’ve things in and around your house that attract them. Livestock is one of them. Plus, the air conditioner in your home discharges water that has ammonia in it. That ammonia causes a sour smell that attracts horse flies into your home.

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.

  • There isn’t much you can do in terms of adopting preventative steps in this situation.
  • Fortunately, the horsefly season is just a few weeks long.
  • During these times, you may wish to schedule your day so that you only leave the house when absolutely necessary.
  • 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.

What Birds Eat Horseflies?

Photographs courtesy of IJupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images Horseflies are a nuisance to humans, cattle, and horses during certain summer months. Large insects that feed on blood, they can be found in your garden or on your porch. Their sharp mouth parts pierce the skin of their prey, delivering a stinging sting feeling and generating a pool of blood from which they may feed, in contrast to other insects, which suck blood directly from their prey. It takes only a few seconds for a horsefly to bite you, and its presence in your yard attracts birds who eat the insects they bring into your yard.

Black-Headed Grosbeak

Black-headed grosbeaks are huge songbirds with strong bills that are conical in shape. A bird’s coloration is determined by his or her sex; the breeding male has an orange cinnamon body with a black head and black and white wings, whilst juvenile males and females have a brown body with an orange patch on the breast. In the western United States, black-headed grosbeaks may be found mostly in dense thickets and forest margins, although they can also be seen in backyards and gardens. The male and female black-headed grosbeaks work together on domestic responsibilities such as feeding the young and protecting their nesting territory, which they divide equally.

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Sparrows are one of the most common birds in North America, and they are most often observed moving in groups of two or three. Sparrows are known to consume grains in the garden as well as a broad variety of insects, including horseflies, and may become a nuisance to your home if allowed to overpopulate in your yard. They construct their nests in the walls of your home, causing the wood to deteriorate. Their excrement, like their urine, may be harmful to human health. Despite this, they can play a significant role in lowering the horsefly population in and near residential areas.


Swallows feed mostly on insects, although they also consume grains, seeds, and fruits. They prefer to dwell in fields and other open places with plenty of flight space and a natural water supply. They are fast-flying songbirds with a variety of colors on their bellies, ranging from a drab brown to blue and white. They may be found throughout most of North America. Horseflies and other flying insects are the primary source of food for swallows, which may be fascinating to watch as they glide through the air while dining.


Eaten mostly as insects, however they can consume grains and seeds as well as fruits, swallows can be found in close proximity to farms and other regions with plenty of open space for flight and a natural water source. Birds with bright colors ranging from a drab brown back to blue and white bellies that are rapid fliers that may be found throughout most of North America are known as hummingbirds.

Horseflies and other flying insects are the primary source of food for swallows, which may be fascinating to watch as they glide through the air while feeding on the fly.

Carl Maresh’s bioCarl Maresh is a writer and editor who specializes in pet care, animals, careers, and disaster preparedness and response. He previously worked as a kennel attendant and canine trainer at an animal shelter, where he gained valuable experience. Maresh possesses a Ph.D. in physiology as well as a Master of Science in the field, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in physical education.


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 contains more than 1300 species and hundreds of subspecies, according to the International Union of Naturalists. The name Tabanus was coined by the ancient Roman scholar Pliny the Younger to refer to the animal, and it is now used to refer to the genus as well. The American horsefly (T. americanus) is a species of fly found in North America. It can be found throughout the United States and Canada, from Kansas to New Hampshire and from Florida to Texas, as suggested by its specific epithet, which is It can 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 word 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.

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.

  • They will even eat the remains of an animal that has recently died.
  • If she is swatted away, she will at the very least make an effort to return so she may finish her food.
  • Horseflies are mostly solitary insects, however some attack in groups.
  • 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 in order to receive the protein essential for reproduction, and the female horsefly is tenacious in her quest of it. A horsefly may be distinguished from a housefly by the fact that a female horsefly will actively pursue you!

Horse Flies

An illustration of a horse fly Horse Flies are a kind of fly that flies on horses (additional examples) Horse flies (genus Tabanus) are extremely bothersome insects that affect not only humans, but also other mammals such as cattle, horses, dogs, and other domesticated animals. Most species’ females require a blood meal in order to breed successfully, or at all, and while some species have been observed to feed on birds or reptiles, the vast majority of species have been observed to feed on mammalian blood as their primary source of nutrition.

  • Some people might have severe allergic responses as a result of their food allergies.
  • Horse flies are quite similar to deer flies, which are members of the same family as horse flies (Tabanidae).
  • Deer flies have dark bands across their wings, whereas horse flies do not.
  • Horse flies have clear wings, whereas deer flies have dark bands across their wings.
  • Among the natural predators of horse flies and deer flies are frogs, toad, spiders, wasps, hornets, dragonflies, and birds, among others.
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Additional Information:

  • University of Kentucky research on horse flies and deer flies
  • Cornell University research on pest flies of pastured cattle and horses
  • And other research.

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 almost never 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.

What Eats A Horsefly?

Horseflies are members of the Diptera order and the Tabanidae family of flies. They are known to be huge and swift in flight, and they prefer direct sunshine over shade and darkness. These insects are attracted to blood, and they bite animals and humans alike. With the exception of a few islands and the polar regions, they may be found all over the planet. Adult horseflies eat on the nectar and organic materials of plants, as well as on other insects. It is the males who graze on grass since their mouthparts are weak.

They require the blood in order to get protein from it, which is necessary for egg development.

But what is it that eats a horsefly? These ten insects are frequently observed attacking and eating horseflies. It is true that there are other species that prey on them, but they are more frequent and are also pretty common creatures in their own right.

  • The Black-headed Grosbeak, Sparrows, Warblers, Bembicini, parasitoid wasps, Tachinidae, Dragonflies, Hornets, Swallows, and Killdeer are some of the species that may be found in the area.


Horseflies have huge compound eyes in their adult form. Their antennae are short, and their body is little. Their body length ranges from 5 to 25mm, and they are either grey or brown in color. Swarms of females mate at the same time. Eggs are placed along the borders of bodies of water, near sprouting stems, and under leaves. Horsefly eggs develop into white larvae, which are carnivorous and feed on other insects. The larva is cylindrical in shape and contains twelve segments, each with a tiny head.

  1. These larvae travel to drier terrain in order to pupate.
  2. Males’ eyes virtually touch each other, whilst females’ eyes are slightly spaced away from one another.
  3. The blood instantly seeps out, to which the female housefly adds anti-coagulant saliva to prevent it from clotting.
  4. It takes them a week to digest this blood and turn it into protein, which they then utilize to develop and produce their eggs in the next year.
  5. They require a significant volume of blood in order for it to be digested and converted into protein for egg development.
  6. They can be found flying low and biting just below the knees, while others bite the back of the neck and shoulders.
  7. In the process of moving from one animal to another, they spread a lethal virus, which is then passed on to unwary victims.
  8. Filarial dermatitis in cattle is propagated by these pests, which causes sorehead illness in sheep and blindness in elks, among other problems.
  9. They also have an impact on the production of milk by cattle.

How To Treat Their Bite On Humans?

The most serious worry with horsefly bites is that they can cause illness in the victim. The reason for this is due to the way their mouthparts cause the wound to appear. If their bite results in an infection, see a doctor immediately and begin antibiotic therapy right once. All horsefly bites must be treated according to the guidelines listed below:

  • Do not pick or scrape the sore. Infection will result as a result of this. Soap and warm water should be used to clean the bitten surface. Make use of a clean towel or a cotton swab
  • When horseflies bite, the saliva that is released causes itching around the region where the bite occurred. Reduce the discomfort by applying an ice compress to the bitten area for approximately 10 minutes. Do not apply any other type of ointment to the wound.

When horseflies bite people, the bites are unpleasant and the affected region swells up as a result. It is possible that the discomfort will persist for a day or two. To reduce the agony caused by bug bites, those who are allergic to them must take medicine.

Some Facts About Horseflies

  • They are similar in appearance to bees, with the exception that they have just one pair of wings. Male horseflies are unable to bite and hence cannot feed on nectar or other plant components. Horseflies are known for sucking nectar from flowers with their lengthy proboscis
  • Female horseflies, in addition to sucking nectar and eating on flowers and plants, also feed on blood. Their mouthparts feature a piercing and cutting component that allows them to take blood from both animals and people with relative ease. They secrete saliva, which is anti-coagulant and prevents blood from clotting
  • They also secrete saliva when they are stressed. Horseflies are found in over 3,000 different species all over the world. They are bigger than typical houseflies and can be found in great numbers in woods and regions where there is a lot of livestock. In fact, the Tabanidae family of flies is often regarded as the world’s biggest fly family. It takes approximately a year for the horsefly larva to develop into an adult. The larvae of this species are aggressive. They prey on a wide variety of microscopic insects, earthworms, millipedes, and even small fish. Adult horseflies have a lifespan of around 20-25 days on average. Horseflies are not killed by the majority of insecticides. They are resistant to the majority of pesticides that are used to exterminate other insects. Only a few traps are effective against them
  • Bulldog flies, march flies, cleggs, breeze flies, deer flies, gadflies, and zimbs are some of the names that have been given to them
  • Nonetheless, they are all flies. Horseflies hunt their prey by using their mass, movement, scent, and the carbon dioxide they exhale to attract their victim’s attention. The complex eyes on their enormous heads can detect movement and size despite their poor eyesight. Their compound eyes are tinted in a variety of lovely colors. Despite the fact that their bite hurts, their eyes are a vibrant mix of green, red, golden, and purple colours.

Horsefly Predators

A high number of birds provide horseflies with food. The following are examples of common predators:

1. Black-headed Grosbeak

These are songbirds with conical, big, and thick bills that are seen in vast flocks. Males in their mature stage have an orange body with a blackhead on it. Their wings are a combination of white and black. Males and females with orange spots on their chests make up the remainder of the group. They may be found in thickets, woodlands, and gardens, among other places. They are birds that travel long distances. They become well-known for providing for their young and protecting their nest. Horseflies and caterpillars are the primary food sources for this black-headed Grosbeak.

From its perches, the grosbeak may be heard singing.

They have the opportunity to sing when incubating, mating, or rearing their young.

2. Sparrows

The house sparrow is a well-known bird in the United States. Females and young birds have a drab brown or grey color, whereas males have patches of black, brown, and white on their bodies. They frequently move in large groups and construct their nests in areas close to human settlements. They prey on a variety of insects, including horseflies, which they consume. They will also eat grains and other seeds that you may have in your backyard or garden. They devour food that has been left over and can be discovered near your waste bin.

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3. Warblers

Warblers are greenish in color or a drab brownish color. Small songbirds with green backs and white underbellies, they are a common sight in the forest. They are more likely to be heard than seen. They may be found in marshes, forests, and gardens, among other places. Warblers eat a variety of insects, including grasshoppers and beetles. Horseflies are their preferred prey, and the horsefly population is directly dependent on them for survival. Berry and seed are also available for consumption.

4. Bembicini

Crabronid wasps, often known as sand wasps, are the type of wasps in question. They are insect predators that prey on a variety of different species. In particular, they exhibit a strong preference for horsefly larvae. The larvae are transported to their burrows once they have been newly killed. They provide sustenance for their larvae by consuming the food that has been accumulated by the adult wasps. Stictia Carolina is the name given to them.

5. Parasitoid Wasps

Insect eggs, larvae, and pupa of numerous sorts of insects are preyed upon by parasitoid wasps, which are microscopic insects. Horsefly eggs are the primary prey of these parasitoid wasps, which are known to feed on them.

6. Tachinidae

Tachinidae flies are well-known for their ability to function as parasites on a wide variety of insect eggs, larvae, and pupae. It has been observed that the larvae of these parasites attach themselves to the eggs of horseflies and feed on them.

7. Dragonflies

Dragonflies consume a large amount of food. Every day, they consume ten percent of their body weight in food.

They prey on a variety of insects, including horseflies, and eat them whole. Generally, dragonfly nymphs may be found near bodies of water, where they feed on a variety of insects and larvae. The larvae of horseflies, which are commonly seen in these areas, are fed by these voracious nymphs.

8. Hornets

These insects are mostly attracted to honey and other organic materials found in the environment. Their larvae, on the other hand, are carnivores, and they feed on masticated insects, such as horseflies, to survive. Because of their formidable jaws, sting, and venom, they may immobilize their victim in a matter of seconds. Their biological body was dissolved with the digestive fluids they were secreting and supplied to their young ones as a result.

9. Swallows

They may be found all over the place and are also known as saw-wings and martins. They have excellent glide and can go for great distances. They have keen eyesight and are capable of detecting their prey from a long distance. They generate a separate set of calls, each of which represents a different set of actions. These swift-flying songbirds may be found in a variety of colors, including blue and drab brown with white chests. They eat grains, seeds, and a variety of insects, among other things.

They reside in close proximity to a natural water supply as well as huge flying spaces.

10. Killdeer

These are little birds, sometimes known as plover, that are commonly seen in marshes. Horseflies are among the insects that they prey on. These predators hunt on female horseflies because they like to deposit their eggs in marshes, which is where they are found.


Horseflies are preyed upon by a variety of birds and insects. While parasites, fungus, and nematodes prey on their eggs and larvae, they themselves are preyed upon by them. Hello and welcome to my blog. I’ve been practicing pest management for years since my home, garden, and pets were always under assault by various sorts of pests, necessitating the need to learn effective pest control procedures. In my blog, I offer all of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years, and I hope you find them useful.

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

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


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.


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.

Biting flies may be a source of aggravation, and wearing light-colored clothing and protective mesh outdoor gear may help to alleviate the problem. Hats with mesh face and neck veils, as well as neckerchiefs, may provide some protection under severe circumstances.


A set period of time throughout the summer is generally when the deer flies are most active. Resistants such as Deet and Off (N-diethyl-metatoluamide) can offer many hours of protection when used outdoors. 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 limits on the product label. Permethrin-based repellents are intended for use on clothes alone, however they often give a longer duration of protection than other types of repellents do.

Even after a medication has been administered, these flies will continue to swarm and swarm.

Hats with mesh face and neck veils, as well as neckerchiefs, may provide some protection in harsh situations.


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.

  1. Some changes in behavior or the use of repellents may be necessary to allow for enjoyment of the outdoors.
  3. Some goods may not be legal to use in your state or nation, depending on where you live.

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.

Each facet of the horsefly’s attack is felt by its victims, which doesn’t appear to be very intelligent on the part of the horsefly. 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 different positions on the evolutionary tree as a result of their divergent evolutionary histories. The horsefly has developed his own way of doing things to survive and reproduce. One key factor is that the female needs blood — a lot of it — to produce eggs. In Norway, there are 32 different species of horsefly. There are approximately 4,000 species in the world. (Photo courtesy of Eric Steinert / Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0) Both mosquitoes and horseflies are in the order Diptera, which is the scientific name for a large group of flies.

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.

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. The only individuals who know about it are those who have been bitten by it.

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.

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