Why Do Horse Flies Bite When You're Wet: Mystery Solved

Sep 14, 2023 | Super Equestrian


Why Do Horse Flies Bite When You're Wet

Imagine, one day you have taken your horse for a bath, while doing so you also became wet.

At this time, you suddenly noticed a very painful sensation in your hand which seemed like it was burning, then you saw that the painful place is getting red. After a while, you notice that your horse is also moving restlessly. Now, you are literally becoming worried about what happened to your beloved horse!

Looking closely at its back, you saw a small hole like lesion and blood coming from the hole. Now, you have clearly realised that a horse fly has beat you and your beloved horse. How would you feel if you were in such a situation? Think for a while. 

You will surely be very worried at that moment   thinking, why did this insect bite you when the body is wet? Since, you have assumed that the horse fly bites when the body is wet, a big round of applause for you! 

There are many mysterious reasons behind why horse flies bite when you are wet. Let's discuss those incredible reasons in detail:

Why Horse Flies Are Attracted to Wetness:

The reason why horse flies are attracted to wetness is mostly related to their life cycle. Let's find out the reasons for the attraction of horse flies to wetness:

Why do horse flies seem to be attracted to moisture?

Horse flies are attracted to moisture for the purpose of effective breeding, as the female horse flies lay eggs near a moistened environment.Then the hatched eggs form larvae, that go into ground to eat organic substances and transform into pupate. Finally, the pupate appears to an adult horsefly. 

This whole life cycle of the horse fly shows that the presence of water or moisture plays a very important role in the critical steps from hatching to the emergence of a complete adult horsefly. 

How do horse flies' specialised sensors work to detect heat and humidity changes?

Horse flies have a very good sensual perception as they can understand everything by sensing the smell of that particular object. They contain different types of sensual receptors in their body to detect temperature, humidity, odour and vision. Their nervous system works well in the detection of heat and humidity changes. 

When a warm-blooded animal appears around the horsefly, that transmits a signal to the receptors on its body. Similarly, when there is a river, a pond, or someone with a sweaty body around him, the receptor of the horsefly's body  receives the signal and is attracted to that animal or place. 

Colder temperature or moisture less substances do not transmit any signal to their receptor, so they do not respond to them because they need warm temperature and moisture to maintain their lifecycle.

For instance, carbon dioxide is emitted from our mouth when we breathe and horse flies can detect the warm carbon dioxide by their specialised sensory organ and start attacking the host for collecting blood.

Additionally, horse flies have very large eyes, with which they can see everything happening around them, this sense helps them to find out water or moisture containing places as well. 

The Science Behind Horse Fly Behavior:

Every stage of the horse fly life cycle, from their reproduction to the complete development of the adult horsefly, you can observe the existence of science. Let's examine the presence of science behind horse fly behaviour,:

How are horse flies scientifically categorised?

Horse flies are members of the Tabanidae family and Diptera order. They are larger than other flies and fly very fast. The horse fly has small antennae on its head which act as very good sensory organs. As a result, the adult horse flies can easily perceive any odour and respond accordingly.

How are horse flies scientifically categorised

What role does protein play in female horse flies' reproduction?

Protein plays a very important role in horsefly reproduction by supplying adequate nutritions to the mother horsefly and the baby. Various proteins of blood plasma help in egg development and provide nutrition to develop the organs of baby horse flies properly. 

During the fertilisation stage of horsefly it requires protein for their hormones to function effectively. That means at every stage of horsefly reproduction, the role of protein is very important, that's why female horse flies are always busy looking for warm blooded animals. 

Explain the connection between dampness and their biting behaviour.

If you want to insert a needle into a wet, soft sponge, you will see that the needle easily penetrates into the sponge. Again, if the sponge is dry, will the needle enter it? You have to insert the needle  by applying pressure with great difficulty.

Similarly, the horseflies prefer dampness to bite because dampness makes the area smooth and soft. They bite into the animal's body and suck blood by poking the area easily. If the bleeding site is dry and rough, they can not bite comfortably. 

When the skin is wet or damp, they can easily puncture the area for drawing out blood from it. Watch this video to know the horsefly bite symptoms.

The Feeding Habits:

Horse flies have unique feeding habits on the basis of gender, which is totally different from other flies. Let's have a good understanding about their feeding habits:

What do horse flies primarily feed on?

Horse Flies primarily eat flower nectar or juices of different kinds of plants. Female horse flies have a sharp, knife shaped mouth, by which they suck the warm blood from human beings or other animals for the benefit of their reproduction. 

On the other hand, male horse flies do not have this type of mouth and they eat nectar, pollen from the flowers to survive. Female horse flies eat nectar most often, when they are not in the maternity stage. Watch this video to know how horse flies drink blood?

Why do female horse flies need blood to lay eggs?

Female horse flies usually suck the blood of other animals to give birth to their offspring. But what is the relationship of taking blood for childbirth? 

Every animal needs a lot of nutritious food during this special time. Just like them, a horsefly wants to eat nutritious food to give birth to a healthy child, so that the organs of the babyfly are properly developed. Blood contains a lot of nutritious elements for the development of eggs, that's why the female horse flies need blood before laying eggs.

How does being wet make you more appealing to horse flies?

Horseflies like to hang out in wet places, because horseflies feel comfortable sitting there if your body is wet with sweat or other bodily secretions. 

Whenever it needs to suck blood, it can easily get the blood out with a light poke via its sharp mouth without much effort. On the other hand, they are very much fond of smooth and shiny surfaces, so wetness makes you more appealing to horse flies. 

How does being wet make you more appealing to horse flies

Visual Cues and Horse Fly Attraction:

There are many strange and mysterious visual cues by which a horsefly will be attracted to you. Let's get a better idea about those visual cues.

How does the vision of horse flies impact their behaviour?

The vision of horseflies contains polarisation sensitivity, that is a special type of sensory capability by which they detect any object of polarised reflection very easily and differentiate the intensity and colour of light as well. This sensory capability helps them to identify dark coloured prey which contain warm blood in its body. 

By using their polarisation vision, when they sense that there is an animal suitable for their food nearby, they quickly fly and sit on the animal, after a while suck the animal's blood.

What attracts horse flies visually to humans and horses?

Horse flies are attracted to a nearby horse or human by using some visual cues, such as fluid secretions from the horse or human body, sweat, carbon dioxide from breathing, these signal the horsefly whether to sit on them and bite. Horses are the most popular target of the horsefly due to their distinctive movement patterns and their warm body secretions. 

What attracts horse flies visually to humans and horses

How does being wet enhance their visibility?

Polarisation vision of the horse flies help to detect shiny objects as those glossy and polished surfaces reflect polarised light for better reflection. 

If you are being wet due to sweat or other reasons, your wetted parts of the body seems reflected to the eyes of the horsefly, which enhance their visibility to that particular area of your body. 

Want to Keep Horse Flies at Bay? Here Are Expert Tips:

It is very important to remove horse flies from around the house because their bites can make horses, people, children and other animals sick. Let's discuss some effective tips to remove horse fly from your area:

  • On rainy days, water accumulates in many places around the house and the horse fly comes in those places for  breeding. Throw away the water from those, so that the horse fly cannot breed in those places.
  • Clean the garbage from your house or nearby places because horseflies build their nests on dirt and multiply their number via breeding.
  • Burn candles with essential oils such as citronella oil or lavender oil because the smoke produced from the candle burning effectively removes the horse flies from your area.
  • You must use some insect removal spray, which are helpful to prevent horseflies as well. 

Conclusion:

The horse fly is a very annoying insect that usually attacks horses and other warm-blooded animals, that's why they are given such a name. The bite of a horse fly is much more painful than a mosquito, moreover, this insect passes harmful germs into the human and horse blood that lead to the emergence of diseases. 

And since this insect attacks horses more, horses get sick very easily as a result of the germs that come from their bites. So, everyone must follow the given horse fly removal tips strictly. 

If you have any opinion about this article please comment and feel free to share this to anyone who is facing problems regarding horse fly issues. 

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