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Horseflies, deer-flies (Tabanidae)

Information about horseflies

Horsefly on human skin

Horseflies belong to the flying bloodsucking insect group, also called the two-winged (Diptera). The official name is Tabanidae. Worldwide there are about 3300 different types of horse flies, all of which are crosses. There are approximately 40 species of horseflies, which cause real nuisance. Deer-flies are one of them.

Different type of horseflies 

There are different names for the horsefly. In different regions of the country, people have renamed the horseflies.

The appearance of horseflies

Horsefly apperence

Most horseflies have large eyes on their bodies that are larger than the abdomen. Yet horseflies are often called blindflies blind mosquito. This name probably has little to do with their eyes but more with the fact that they are easy to hit while drinking blood. Most horseflies are vibrant gray in color and have stripes with spots on their body and wings. In addition to their size, the eyes usually have a beautiful metallic color in green or yellow with striped spots. The female horse flies often do not have a space between the eyes and the males, with this a distinction can be made. What is also striking about the appearance of the horsefly is that they are very sheltered in the color, this ensures a good camourflage. The male horse flies have their eyes together while the female horse has a strip between her eyes.

It is the female horse flies that drink blood. The male horseflies only eat nectar.

Breeding of horseflies

Breeding of horseflies

Female horseflies choose the place to lay their eggs carefully. The most ideal place for the eggs is a moist soil such as a dense corn field (bottom) and empty ditch marsh-like moist pastures. The female horsefly will fly a long way for this. She then lays several hundred to a thousand eggs here, which hatch after 1-2 weeks on average, depending on the temperature and air pressure. The larvae need direct moisture to develop further, which is partly why the place is very important. The larvae are immediately hunters. They hunt worms, larvae, snails and can even eat their own kind if necessary. The larvae are so strong that they can survive for months without food and bridge the winter to develop into horseflies in the spring. The larvae will pupate and develop into its flying version in 1-4 weeks. From here a dare will live to be about 6 weeks old.

The female horseflies drink blood, they need this to build up energy in order to lay their eggs. The male horseflies do not bite, but feed exclusively on nectar. The female searches for her prey by using her infrared eyes, which are preferably cattle, horses and humans. Because the body is often warmer than the environment, it finds its prey.

The larvae are very strong and can survive for months without feeding. After the larvae have bridged the winter, they pupate in 1 to 4 weeks into an adult, flying horsefly.

Pest control ( horseflies& deerflies)

A horsefly trap is increasingly being used around the world.  The horsefly does not hunt for sweetness and smell but for movement and warmth! The horsefly trap has a warm moving bucket or ball and this will lure the horsefly. This warm object moves and pretends to be prey.The horsefly trap responds precisely to this, the horsefly trap has an collectbin or glue so that the horsefly is caught

View the different types of traps and how the horsefly trap works> The horsefly trap

Horseflies bite, the don't sting

Horsefly nose

The horsefly does not sting but bites! The horsefly female needs blood to lay her eggs. The blood contains the protein and food that she uses. The males do not bite at all and only feed on nectar.

The female horsefly searches for its prey, preferably cattle, horses and people, by scanning the environment well. she uses her eyes for this which can perceive infrared. The body is warmer than the environment and this is how the fly sees her prey.

The mouth of the horsefly female is equipped with only sharp blades. This allows her to cut through clothes or a thick bovine coat and then suck blood, in addition to cutting, she uses a special saliva that ensures that the blood does not clot. This combination provides a very painful experience. followed by a swelling.

Bite of a horsefly 

A horse fly does not sting but bite with sharp blades, horse flies cut the skin open. Most horseflies mainly bite between the shoulders of the horse and cow, while the rain horseflies focuses on the animal's legwork. 
Bite of a horsefly

The most known horsefly species are:

Rain Horsefly (Haematopota) Length 8-12 mm
Rain horsefly

Haematopota is a genus of flies in the horse-fly family, Tabanidae. Among the horse-flies, they are most commonly known as clegs. Many species have colorful, patterned eyes in life, a character that fades after death.

The genus is named from the Ancient Greek for blood-drinker:

The rain horsefly is one of the most common types of horseflies and can be particularly annoying, especially in warm, sweltering weather. The fly  is found in most of Europe and the United States, the Near East and the Eastern Palearctic. This horsefly owes its name to the fact that it is most active shortly before and during the rain.

She approaches silently and prefers to bite humans on legs and arms and will not fly away like mosquitoes.

The rauin horsefly is slender and gray in color with a spot pattern on the wings and abdomen. 

Deer-fly (chrysops relictus) Length 9-11 mm       


The deerfly usually lives near very humid places such as heathery areas. The larvae live in very moist conditions in decaying plant material. 

The bite is particularly painful and can cause swelling. It is not a sting , but a bite. The deerfly does not bite out of defense, but to provide her eggs with proteins. Just like the mosquito, it is the females that bite. The males live on nectar.

The golden eyed deerflies bite people less often than the ordinary horsefly but are very annoying around pools

The females can be recognized by the separated eyes. The males have their eyes close together.

The gold-eyed deer-flies can be recognized by the blue-green-gold eyes that have a beautiful shine and some small reddish purple spots. The abdomen looks a bit like that of a bee: yellow with black bands, and the yellow color returns on both sides of the very dark breastpiece. The wings clearly show that it is not a bee. The wings cannot be folded over each other on the back.


Horsefly (Tabanus sudeticus) Length 20-25 mm

The horse fly is one of the largest species of native horse flies. This is rare in the vicinity of meadows, but more on higher soils.

This type of horsefly produces a strikingly loud and somewhat alarming sounding hum. The horsefly preferably bites cattle and horses and has little interest in humans. In moist areas, the female lays her white eggs in flat packages on a plant stem.

In the ground she lives partly from plant parts and partly from other small animals that she spies on her jaws and which are killed by the poison and then sucked empty.

The eyes are one-colored brown. The abdomen consists of segments with light brown sides, in the middle resembling a whitish forward-facing triangle.

Biting cattle fly (Tabanus bovinus), Length 19-24 mm
Cattle fly

This biting cattlefly deposits her eggs in heaps of a few hundred to thousands of eggs. She searches for plants that are on a moist soil. Pastures, roadsides and ditch bottoms. The green eyes are very striking. The cattlefly body is colored brown, and the wings are splotchy. In the males, the eyes meet in the middle. In the female species the eyes are slightly separated from each other.

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