Do Horse Flies Really Bite?

Can a horse fly bite me? Read on to learn more about these blood-sucking pests, including how to treat horse fly bites.

What is a horse fly?

Horse flies are found throughout North America in both suburban and rural areas near bodies of water, which serve as breeding sites. These flies are fast, strong fliers capable of flying for more than 30 miles. This species most likely received its common name because it is a notorious pest of horses and other mammals. They often rest along the edges of paths and roads, especially in wooded areas, waiting for potential hosts. 

Horse fly bites

A horse fly biting the skin.

So, do horse flies really bite humans and not just horses? The short answer is yes! While male horse flies feed on pollen and plant nectars, females aggressively feed on blood. Horse flies most often bite moving and dark objects. They are relentless and will continue to bite their host until they succeed in procuring their blood meal or are killed. Some are even known to chase their targets for short periods. Female horse fly bites can be quite painful because their mouthparts are used for tearing and lapping up blood, rather than piercing and sucking like mosquitoes.

What are the symptoms of a horse fly bite?

In addition to being painful, horse flies bites can cause allergic reactions, itchiness, redness and swelling around the bite area. If allergic, one may also experience inflammation, dizziness or wheezing. Fortunately, horse flies are not known to be vectors of disease or capable of transmitting harmful disease-causing bacteria.

How to treat horse fly bites

If bitten by a horse fly, resist the temptation to scratch the bite, as this can increase your risk for infections. Start by cleaning the wound with warm water, then use an ice pack on the bite area to temporarily relieve redness and swelling. Next, apply over-the-counter ointments and creams to help reduce swelling and itchiness. As the wound heals, monitor for any signs of infection. Seek medical attention if the bite becomes infected or you experience a severe allergic reaction or if you need more information on how to treat horse fly bites.

If you notice increasing populations of horse flies around your home, contact a licensed pest control professional to deal with the problem.

Find a PEST PRO in your area

Tips on finding a Pest Control Professional

International Search