The Horsefly Bites
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Bees & Wasps | Jelly Fish |
The horsefly's mouth works in a
scissor-like fashion to slash open the skin, so that the blood
seeps out and the fly can lick it up.
This makes bites initially much
more painful than mosquito bites. When attacking
humans, they generally prefer the head and upper body.
Protection: As well as
covering up, insect repellent — permethrin and DEET — will deter
Worst-case scenario: In
Africa, Asia and South America, horseflies are thought to spread
Expert view: Catti Moss
"When a horsefly bites, you really feel it."
The bite from a larger specimen
can be painful, especially considering the light,
agile, and airborne nature of the fly. Unlike insects which
surreptitiously puncture the skin with needle-like organs, horse
flies have mandibles like tiny serrated scimitars, which they
use to rip and/or slice flesh apart. This causes the blood to
seep out as the horsefly licks it up. They may even carve a
chunk completely out of the victim, to be digested at its
The horsefly's modus operandi is less
secretive than that of its mosquito counterparts, although it
still aims to escape before pain signals reach their mark's
sphere of awareness. Moreover, the pain of a horsefly bite may
mean that the victim is more concerned with assessing and
repairing the wound, than finding and swatting the interloper.