Simple Precautions to Avoid Black Fly Bites

Simple Precautions to Avoid Black Fly Bites

Jun 07, 2012

SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) has received an uptick in the number of calls pertaining to biting flies, possibly black flies, and is urging people to reduce their chances of being bitten.

Black flies are small, biting flies that are a nuisance to people living, working, or playing near running rivers and streams. They can also be bothersome to animals.
Take these simple steps to avoid bites:

  • Avoid areas where black flies are active during the day, especially at dusk and dawn.
  • Wear light-colored long pants and long sleeves, especially whites and tans. Also wear a light colored hat.
  • Consider using insect repellant to reduce your chance of being bitten.
  • If you are bitten, clean the bite and apply topical products to reduce itching. Avoid scratching to reduce chances of infection.

Aside from these prevention tips, there is little that the individual homeowner can do to control black flies. Black flies are sensitive to weather conditions and are most active on cloudy, humid days with low wind.
These flies are typically dark in color and some species are also referred to as ‘punkies’ or ‘no-see-um’s’. On people, they crawl into sleeves, under neckbands, around boot tops and other vulnerable places, especially favoring the head just beneath the rim of a hat. Bites can cause swelling and numb soreness for many days.  
The painfully itchy bite of the black fly is created when it cuts a hole in the skin to suck blood. The flies attack around the eyes, ears, scalp, and occasionally on the arms and exposed legs. The pain and swelling of the bite are due to the body’s response to the fly’s saliva, injected while they feed. Bites can be treated with soothing lotions as well as topical over-the-counter creams to relieve pain and itching and help bites heal. If the reaction is mild, oral antihistamine therapy may suffice. Fortunately, black flies do not transmit any diseases to humans in Washington state, but can cause discomfort and irritation.
General medical information on black flies can be found by visiting:

Again, although black flies are a nuisance, they do not transmit disease, and therefore are not considered a public health risk. More information can also be found at SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.