Field Guide to Flies

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Deer Fly/Horsefly field guide
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DEER FLY/HORSEFLY:

  • Similar in shape and appearance to the common house fly, horse flies are larger (approximately 1 1/8″ long for adults).
  • Deer flies are ¼” to ½” smaller than horse flies, and usually have patterned wings.
  • They may be black, gray or brown in color.
  • Larvae proliferate in water or moist soil.
  • Winged adults emerge in early summer.
  • Adults live only a few days, and eggs are laid on aquatic plants just above water level.
  • Powerful fliers that can travel many miles from breeding sites to find meals.
  • Female deer and horseflies feed on blood from large mammals (although males do not).

 

House Fly field guide
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HOUSE FLY:
  • Known scientifically as Musca domestica, the most common fly found inside homes.
  • About ¼” long and gray with black stripes on the thorax.
  • No chewing mouthparts, just “sponging” mouthpart for absorbing fluids, such as tears and wound secretions.
  • Breed and produce maggots in moist organic material, such as manure.
  • Found year-round, inside and outside, as long as temperatures are warm.
  • Does not bite.

Stable Fly field guide
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STABLE FLY:
  • Resembles the house fly, but with piercing mouthpart to suck blood.
  • Both males and females attack animals around the flanks and below the knees, causing them to stomp or kick.
  • After feeding, flies retreat to fences or other surfaces to digest their meals.
  • Eggs are laid in moist organic matter, such as wet manure or urine-soaked, fermenting straw, hay or feed.
  • Life cycle completed in 21-25 days during warm weather.

Horn Fly field guide
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HORN FLY:
  • Small, about 3/16″, and dark gray.
  • Feed by sucking blood from horses and cattle throughout the day, resting continuously on the animal’s shoulders and back.
  • Females lay eggs in fresh cow manure piles.
  • Life cycle completed in 10-14 days.

For information on reducing fly-breeding sites in your region, see “National Defense” in the July 2009 issue of Horse Illustrated.

Further Reading
Insect Control Strategies
Fly Control Resources

5 COMMENTS

  1. Could you give us some options for controlling flies? Isn’t there a plant that repels flies – maybe basil? Will a horse eat basil if you plant it near their stalls? Does putting garlic in their water repel flies from horses?

  2. What about control of Bot Flies? I am finding it really hard to keep them away from the horses. I put the hose over the horses on hotter days, or leave the paddock sprinkler on, so they can get under it, at free will, for relief, but is there a better way. Also, ideas for simple removal of “Bot eggs” would be helpful. 🙂 Thanks!

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