What Should You Do When You Get Bit by a Horsefly?

The quick stabbing pain of a horsefly bite is sure to put a damper on summer fun. The large dark horsefly is attracted to large moving mammals; like you having a BBQ by the lake. 

The horsefly’s bite is particularly painful because it has a barbed jaw to better hold onto its prey while it feeds. The horsefly will bite down and create a large puncture in the skin and then drink the blood of the afflicted victim. Horseflies have a reputation for being tenacious in pursuit of a meal. They may try multiple times to return to the site of the bite or bite again. 

How should I treat a horsefly bite?

If a horsefly bites you or your child, it is important to clean the wound with soap and water, use an antiseptic cream or spray, and apply a bandage. A horsefly bite results in a large red welt with a white center. It is possible for a horsefly bite to cause bruising. In the unlikely event the wound becomes inflamed or begins to weep pus you should seek medical attention. A bite that has not healed within a week should also be assessed by a medical professional. In rare cases horsefly bites can become infected requiring antibiotics or cause cellulitis, a skin infection.

Horseflies will also bite pets. It is important to check dogs and other outdoor pets for bites and to clean and care for the wound to prevent infection. Horseflies derive their name from their predilection for biting horses. Horseflies carry disease which are particularly dangerous to horses; namely equine infectious anemia, also known as swamp fever. Horseflies do not carry diseases that are contagious to humans.

When and where is a Horsefly bite likely to happen?

Horseflies are active during the day and thrive in a hot and humid environment. They breed in standing water. Horseflies are attracted to carbon dioxide, large dark moving animals, and are more attracted to people who are active and sweaty. This means a horsefly is more likely to go in for a bite when you are having a good time playing outside vs loading your car.  

How do I know if it is a Horsefly Bite?

Measuring an inch long, horseflies are larger than the blood sucking deer fly and common house fly. The horsefly can be identified by the large bulging eyes and distinct coloring; dark, almost black with streaks of white on the body behind the eyes. The bite mark will be larger than that of a mosquito bite. The initial bite is usually described as more painful than a mosquito bite. 

Bite Prevention

Reduce the threat of horsefly bites by wearing light colored clothing, insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin-based fabric protectants, and avoiding standing water. 

If you’re experiencing a lot of horseflies around your property, contact the experts at General Pest Control to help get rid of them. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!


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