Horse and deer flies can be extremely bothersome to humans and livestock with their painful, persistent bites. These large, biting fly species are distinctive insects that make it hard to enjoy summer weather outdoors. By taking a closer look at these species, we can learn specific characteristics of both horse and deer flies. Knowing how to identify these species can help you stop these pests from bothering you, your family, and your animals.
The Difference Between Horse Flies & Deer Flies
Horse flies and deer flies is the general name for species of large, biting flies that look like each other. One of the main distinctions of these species of flies is that the female fly feeds on human blood, much like mosquitoes. Horse and deer flies are most active during the day, which is unlike their blood-sucking counterparts. This species is attracted to movement, shiny surfaces, carbon dioxide, and warmth...making humans, livestock, and pets the perfect target.
Both horse fly species and deer fly species follow the same life cycle, in which they start by breeding alongside ponds, streams, or other moist and damp areas. Female flies can lay between 25 to a thousand eggs during a season. Fly larvae will hatch and then fall to the ground, feeding on decaying matter. Larvae will remain in this stage for 1 to 3 years. Once mature, they move to dry areas to pupate and emerge as a full adult.
With basic similarities, it’s no wonder that people often mistaken these flies for each other – or assume that they are the same. However, these two flies have distinct characteristics that separate them from each other. Here is how you can tell them apart:
- Horse Flies – horse flies are usually around ½ inch to 1 ¼ inch long with antennae shorter than the head with a thick base. This species has large, green eyes. Their wings are clear or uniformly cloudy, while their body can be black or gray in color. Horseflies typically feed on or bite animals and livestock (like horses), and often go after stationary animals.
- Deer Flies – deer flies are usually between ½ inch and 1/3 inches long with slender antennae longer than their heads. This species has large, brightly colored eyes. Their bodies can have gray, brown, or yellow and black striped coloring, while the wings are covered with dark bands or patches, and often are clear besides these patches. Most of these species will bite humans and animals and tend to be more attracted to biting moving creatures.
One of the main differences between these two flies is that deer flies will often bite humans, and horse flies more often go after livestock.
How to Stop Horse & Deer Flies
Horse and deer flies on your property can become overwhelming – and painful if you’re getting bit up by them! These pests can easily ruin your summertime experience, especially if you’re trying to hang out around the pool. And you aren’t the only one suffering if you live on a farm or have any pets.
There are many ways you can repel, control, and prevent these pests from bothering you on your property. Here are some tips:
- Wear light colors – horse and deer flies are attracted to dark colors, so avoiding wearing black and navy can help you avoid attracting them.
- Avoid water – remember that water is the breeding ground for these flies. The area around the water also provides the larvae the perfect spot to feed and grow.
- Maintain your yard – weedy areas, long grass, and other areas of your property that can trap moisture and create a humid habitat can draw these insects to your yard. Keeping your yard trimmed and cared for can eliminate these spots.
- Light candles – flying insects, like this species, have a hard time flying in smoke. If you light candles or light a small campfire, horse and deer flies will avoid coming close to the smoke.
- Remove garbage – horse and deer flies will seek out the garbage for meals and find trashcans the perfect place for a new spot. Keep your trash stored in your trashcan with the lid on, and make sure nothing is sitting out and attracting insects.
- Remove pet waste – horse flies, like other flies, are attracted to animal feces. Whether it be from horses in a barn or your dog going to the bathroom in your yard, make sure that you clean up after them.
- Use a fan – Using a fan in a barn or on a porch can help deter horse and deer flies from going inside the barn or inside your home as it makes it harder for them to fly inside.
- Use a bug zapper – using light and warmth as a lure, Zappers can eliminate these flies when they encounter the electric grid.
- Use a DynaTrap® - DynaTrap® technology uses carbon dioxide and other lures to attract horse and deer flies. Once lured into the trap insects are sucked into the trap by a fan and into a retaining cage where they are eliminated.
Horseflies can be very bothersome and even potentially dangerous to livestock. It’s important to look out for and protect your animals. Deer flies can also attack humans and potentially cause allergic reactions, infections, and in rare cases, tularemia (a bacterial disease.)
Get Protected from Horse & Deer Flies
Big, biting flies aren’t the kind of things that you want to deal with next to the pool or when you’re taking care of animals in the barn. With DynaTrap®, you can easily protect yourself – and your family members, the furry and non-furry ones. Not only do we have a defense against horse and deer flies, but DynaTrap® aims to protect you from multiple different flying insects! Check out what people are saying about our products on our Facebook page. Be sure to stay in touch with us by signing up for our e-newsletter to get exclusive info delivered to your email!