A black fly, also known as turkey gnat, buffalo gnat or white socks, is an insect related to mosquitoes. There are over 1,800 classified species of black flies, 11 of which are extinct. Most black flies feed on the blood of humans and other animals by sucking; however, males feed mainly on nectar. They are often small, with short antennae and legs, and black or gray-colored.
Black flies are considered a common nuisance for the human population. The insect can spread various types of diseases, including Onchocerciasis or river blindness. This disease is the second leading infectious cause of blindness in the world. It is caused by Onchocerca volvulus, a nematode that can dwell in the human body for 15 years. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of a black fly. Worms develop inside the human body, and when they die, intense itching coupled with strong immune system response occur, that may destroy nearby tissue, including the eye. (If you’re infested with hookworms, these are the tips on how to get rid of hookworms)
Getting Rid of Black Flies
Black flies are often found near rivers and streams where the larvae need the running water to complete their life cycle. Black flies can congregate and attack in numbers. In some areas, black fly infestation has gotten so bad that livestock, such as cattle, have died from swarms of black flies. Also, there have been cases of people dying due to black flies. Unwary travelers can accidentally inhale the flies, and die because of anaphylactic shock–the severest type of allergic reaction.
Not only can black fly bites cause pain, itchiness, and strange numbness, but they can also transmit blood borne pathogens. Though diseases from black flies are not common to humans, black flies do feed on blood, so blood-related illnesses cannot be ruled out.
In some countries, local or statewide and nationwide programs have been initiated to help reduce black fly population. Lakes, streams, and other bodies of water are treated with chemicals, such as the bacterial toxin known as BTis (Bacillus thuringienis var. israelensis), to prevent black flies from increasing in number.
Getting rid of black flies should start as soon as any sighting occurs. Eliminating black flies greatly reduces the risk of cattle infestation and various human diseases from spreading.
Chemical and Physical Black Fly Control
Black flies should be treated seriously, for they can carry diseases and cause immense damages. Here are five prevention and elimination approaches that can help you control the population of black flies:
- Pyrethrin-based insect foggers, such as Spectracide Bug Stop Insect Killer and Raid Yard Guard Outdoor Fogger, can provide an immediate, albeit temporary, relief from black flies. In most cases, insecticides are often the last resort; however, pyrethrins biodegrade quite readily and should not be a threat to human health.Just like any other chemical product, pyrethrin based products should be used cautiously. Though they are not known to cause poisoning or other illnesses to humans, cats are particularly sensitive to them. Be careful when using insecticides and be aware of the proper usage of each.
- Insect repellents are conventional pest control products that will likely get rid of insects within a confined area. When selecting which insect repellent works best, look for the one with the highest concentration of DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide). DEET is the most common active ingredient of insect repellents. There are days, however, when insect repellents are not enough to prevent black flies from biting. Insect repellents are relatively tame compared to more potent insecticides.Some of the insect repellents with the highest concentration of DEET include: Muskol, Sawyer Maxi DEET, and Cutter Max 100. These products are all 100% DEET. Insect repellents are often applied to the back of the neck, ears, and forehead for basic protection.
- Lighter shades of clothing may keep black flies away. According to some experts, wearing lighter shaded clothing will make you look less delectable to the eyes of black flies. White, off-white, and light tan are colors that are considered light shades. These colors are believed to repel black flies.Though there are no scientific evidence that proves the reliability of this practice, there have been anecdotal evidence from campers and hunters proving of its effectiveness. Just be certain to wear the proper attire when exposed outdoors and do not forget to tuck your shirts and socks in.
- Use specially designed outdoor clothes and apparels that are impregnated with repellents to prevent black fly bites. If you are not a believer of wearing lighter shaded clothes, then perhaps wearing clothing with insect repellents will be a safer choice. The special clothes are treated with permethrin, a synthetic form of the natural insect prevention properties found in Chrysanthemum. Some of the clothing brands that are popular with this type of clothing include Sawyer and Buzz Off Insect Repellent Apparel line.This type of clothing often has an expensive price tag and maintenance of such can be quite a chore. There is, however, a less expensive means to wear treated clothes. The Sawyer company manufactures a product called Premium Insect Repellent Clothing Treatment, that may be applied to your own clothing. This costs less but requires more work.
- Head nets are reliable outdoor gear against black flies. Head nets are probably the most effective physical control of black flies for your immediate personal space. There are various types of head nets available on the market, and they are relatively cheap. The head gear is a rather basic invention that is proven to be reliable and effective. The Cabella’s Mosquito Head Net and Coghlin’s Mosquito Head Net are two of the best and most popular head nets on the market.
Black flies are pests to the society, for they are not only irritating insects but are disease-carriers as well. It is important for anyone to handle black flies seriously. The tips stated above can help you prevent, control, and eliminate black flies. It would also help to research further about the state of black flies in your area in relation to their survival situation there. If you love reading this article you’ll surely love reading how to get rid of fruit flies, eliminate house flies and exterminate cluster flies.
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