Beware the Horseflies

Horsefly Bites

Trade body advice to be pest aware following reported surge in fly bites

National trade body the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) is issuing advice to the public to be pest aware following a reported increase in the number of fly bites.

The heatwave is being linked in the media to an increased number of bites and stings, particularly from horseflies.

BPCA has received enquiries from across the country – and says that rural areas are more likely to see an increase in numbers due to the presence of livestock, and access to standing water in troughs, ponds and marshes, which provide a food source and an environment to breed.

Natalie Bungay, BPCA Field Officer, says that while the prolonged soaring temperatures mark a clear change in weather patterns for the UK, it is unclear what has caused the surge in insects.

One theory is that as the UK soaks up the rays, more people are outdoors than usual, increasing the opportunity for insects to bite and sting.

Ms Bungay said: “After a prolonged period of hot weather, or rather without cold and uncomfortable conditions for invertebrate pests, insect numbers may see an increase and infestations can develop if left alone.

“This, for some invertebrate species, is more likely to be rural locations, which will generally have more available breeding opportunities in ponds, marshes and other types of standing water.

“For blood sucking insects such as horseflies, the countryside also gives access to food sources, mainly cows and horses grazing in fields.

“Horseflies and mosquitos are interesting because they rely on aquatic larvae in wet and marshy areas, which won’t have necessarily dried up yet, even after the last four weeks of hot and dry weather conditions.

“We continue to receive enquiries and have noted coverage in the media, but there is nothing to substantiate a significant increase in activity.

“If members of the public do have an issue, we strongly encourage you to contact a BPCA member to get any problems resolved rapidly, and professionally.”

According to BPCA, the top five most common bites and stings are false black widow spider, mosquitos, horse flies, wasps and hornets.

Ms Bungay added: “Horsefly bites are particularly painful because their main food source is livestock, which have a limited ability to move the fly away.

“This means they can take their food without having to worry about delivering a painful bite, as the animals are generally powerless to stop them.

“This is as opposed to mosquitoes, which extract blood through a painless bite.”

BPCA advises the public to be pest aware and on their guard against bites and stings, by taking steps such as removing standing water from the proximity of their homes and areas of the garden used in the summer. Medical advice should be sought if problems emerge, such as swelling.

Details of how to find a BPCA member can be found at bpca.org.uk/PestAware

More information on the subject is available in a statement issued recently by BPCA on the changing pattern of summer pest behaviour, available to view at https://bpca.org.uk/Pest-Aware/wasps-going-on-the-changing-pattern-of-summer-pest-behaviour-/202303