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Deer Fly

Deer flies (Chrysops spp., Silvius spp.) are moderate-sized insects. Most common species are gray or light brown, sometimes with patterned bodies and wings, and have large colored eyes. Deer flies are day biters, produce a painful bite, and frequently draw blood in the process.

Flesh Fly

Deer Fly

Deer flies are small to medium flies (10 to 13 mm long). Their wings are tinted smokey gray-brown or have dark patterns, and their thorax is greenish-yellow with dark stripes.

Deer flies are most active on sunny, calm days. They have a tendency to wait in shady areas for a host. Deer flies primarily use sight to find a host and seem to be particularly attracted to moving, dark shapes. They typically go for the head and neck when biting people. Deer flies have been known to chase hosts a limited distance.

Eggs are dark, shiny, spindle shaped and in layered masses (tiers) of a few to several hundred on vegetation in or hanging over the water. Fully grown larvae are cylindrical, tapering toward both ends, whitish or yellowish gray, banded with black or brown and a fleshy elevated ring on each body segment. They are tough skinned (leathery), up to two inches long and are often used as fish bait.

Deer Fly

Deer Fly

They are usually the first insects to arrive at a dead animal carcass and are similar to blow flies in both larval and adult biology and habits. Flesh flies are attracted to sources of decay around the home, including garbage dumpsters, compost piles and dead animal carcasses. These odors bring them into close proximity to homes where they may invade through openings such as doors and windows or cracks and crevices.

Life Cycle :The first stage of development is the egg stage. The eggs are dark, shiny and spindle shaped. They are layered in masses (“tiers”) which contain a few to several hundred eggs. These masses are laid on vegetation which hangs over water. Eggs hatch within five to twelve days, and small larvae drop down and burrow into moist soil.

Suitable habitats include saltmarshes, swamps, bogs and areas along the edges of ponds, lakes and streams. Deer fly larvae feed on organic debris and other small organisms.

Larvae overwinter in muddy soils, maturing in late spring. In some cases, larvae take one to three years to complete development. In late spring, the larvae migrate towards dryer soils and develop into pupae. The pupal period varies between species and may range from six to twelve days, depending on temperature.

Adult flies emerge from pupae and immediately begin mating and blood feeding. Adults are strong fliers, searching visually for hosts and mates. The females require a blood meal for their eggs, but also feed on nectar and plant juices for flight energy. Males also require nectar and plant juices for flight.

Deer Fly larva

Deer Fly larvae

In addition to causing great annoyance in some recreational and work areas, horse and deer flies are suspected vectors of important livestock diseases: hog cholera virus of swine, equine infectious anemia virus of horses (EIA) and anaplasmosis bacteria of cattle and other viral and bacterial diseases. Diseases such as EIA are often associated with lowlands and poorly drained areas frequented by biting flies.

Control: There are no chemical controls for deer fly larvae, which develop in mud around edges of ponds and small streams. However, breeding can be suppressed by removing vegetation around pond edges to inhibit egg laying. To control adults, direct insecticides at shrubbery and other resting sites.

Control of deer flies usually comes down to personal protection. Wear protective clothing, such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to help protect exposed skin. It is more difficult for deer flies to bite through clothing. Some gardening catalogs sell sticky patches that are placed on the back of hats. The theory behind it is that the deer flies will land and stick to the patch before they can bite you. You can also try a nylon head net, similar to a bee keepers veil.

Deer Fly Eggs

Deer Fly Eggs

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