adults range in size from about ¼ to 1/3 inches long.


are their large, often brightly colored eyes and their antennae are usually longer than their head.

Deer flies are plentiful in damp, wooded or wetland environments such as marshes, ponds and streams, and their activity peaks in June and July throughout much of their area of distribution. Deer fly larvae develop in the mud and aquatic muck that occurs along the edges of bodies of water such as ponds, stream banks, wetlands or seepage areas. Deer flies flourish around cattle and love to feed upon the blood of horses, cows, mules, hogs, deer and pretty much any warm blooded mammal.

Deer flies are most abundant on bright, sunny days that have little wind. Female deer flies are persistent blood feeders, but the males do not consume blood. Instead, they subsist by feeding on pollen and nectar from plants. Larvae are aquatic and feed primarily on organic debris. Pupae do not feed. Deer flies natural predators include frogs and toads, spiders, wasps and hornets, dragonflies and some bird species.

Deer flies will feed on a variety of mammals that include humans, pets, livestock and deer. The insects usually target high on a host’s body, such as the head or neck. In contrast, horse flies feed on various areas but often prefer the legs.Also, deer flies prefer to attack a moving host, while horse flies prefer to attack a stationary host.

There is evidence that deer flies in the western U.S. are involved in the transmission of tularemia, also known as deer fly fever or rabbit fever. Bites from deer fly can also transmit diseases such as anthrax, anaplasmosis, hog cholera, and others.

Deer fly Prevention Tips

Controlling horse and deer flies is nearly impossible. The use of insecticides to kill larvae is not an option because the vast majority of species develop in natural habitats in which insecticides cannot be applied due to environmental concerns.

Here is few Prevention tips for Deer fly:

  1. Cover as much exposed skin as possible. Wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants with tapered fitting cuffs and ankles limits the amount of skin exposed for deer fly bites. Gloves can also be helpful.
  2. Wear light colored clothing. Deer flies are attracted to dark colors that are moving. Wearing dark colors on warm sunny days draws the deer flies to you.
  3. Purchase a nylon head net which covers your head, neck and face. Head nets allow for clear vision while providing a physical barrier to prevent deer flies from being able to bite.
  4. Protect your head with a light colored baseball cap or other hat. Deer flies are known for going after the head and scalp to bite. When they get under your hair it can be difficult for you to get at them to remove them.
  5. Use an insect repellent than contains Deet to prevent deer flies from biting you. Apply the Deet to all exposed areas of skin including your face and neck. Use care not to get it in your eyes. Apply the repellent to your clothing as well.

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