Simple Precautions to Avoid Black Fly Bites

May 29, 2019

Simple Precautions to Avoid Black Fly Bites

For more information, contact Katie Anderson, (509) 324-1515 or kanderson@srhd.org

SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) recently experienced an uptick in calls pertaining to black flies in Spokane County. Although the flies do not spread disease, their bites can cause bleeding, pain and itching. To avoid these nuisances, the health district is urging people to take steps that reduce the chances of being bitten.

Black flies, also known as buffalo gnats (some species are also referred to as “punkies” or “no- see-um’s”), are small, biting flies that irritate people and animals near running rivers and streams. They are sensitive to weather conditions and are most active on cloudy, humid days with low wind. Take these simple steps to avoid their bites:

  • Stay away from 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 repellent.

These flies are typically dark in color and are difficult to see with the human eye. They attack around the eyes, ears, scalp, and occasionally on exposed arms and legs. They crawl into sleeves, under neckbands, around boot tops and access other vulnerable places, especially favoring the head, just beneath the rim of a hat. Bites can cause swelling and numb soreness.

To suck blood from animals and people, black flies cut a hole in the skin. The blood, pain and itching associated with the bite is the body’s response to the fly’s saliva. If an individual is bitten, they should clean the bite and apply topical products to reduce itching. Avoid scratching to reduce chances of infection.

Again, although black flies are a nuisance, they do not transmit disease, and, therefore, are not considered a public health risk. More information can be found here: srhd.org/health-topics/environmental-health/black-flies. SRHD’s website also 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.