The gadfly, who is this biting and non-biting insect?


Horseflies are Diptera that look like big flies. Some species are quite common in our territory. The gadfly can easily be seen harassing horses in the meadows as well as cows, and it does not spare deer either. But the gadfly does not just bite animals (yes, it does not sting but does bite). Humans are also very exposed to the risks of horsefly bites, resulting in redness, swelling, pain and sometimes even allergic reactions. Let’s get to know more about these insects whose only the female bites to feed on the blood of its victims.

Horsefly: main characteristics

Horseflies are medium to large insects that belong to the family of Tabanidae and to the order of the Diptera, like the flies, since both have only one pair of wings. In the gadfly, these are very powerful.

Horseflies are characterized by a broad head quite distinct from body who is he very massive. Their eyes are big. In females they are separated from each other while in males the eyes are contiguous. It is by this very apparent distinctive sign that they can be easily distinguished. Depending on the species, an adult horsefly can reach a length of up to three centimeters. Still depending on the species, a horsefly can have a completely naked body or one covered with green hair or with copper highlights. As for their antennae with rings, they allow these insects to pick up odors in the same way as a sensory organ.

Horsefly: only the female bites

Among horseflies, the female alone is a biting insect which feeds on the blood of its victims (large animals and humans) which allows its eggs to develop properly. We say that his bite East telmophage because it allows the Diptera to lacerate the flesh or the dermis with a stylet so that blood can flow out. It is thus very easy for him to suck it afterwards. The female gadfly is therefore an external parasite that feeds on blood, that is to say a hematophagous ectoparasitis. You should still know that if a female pulls a piece of flesh from an animal or a human, she is quite capable of digesting it.

Even while remaining vigilant, we may not notice that a gadfly has landed on us because this insect lands gently, the end of its legs being provided with a kind of small shock absorber. When we feel a pain, it is too late: the skin has already been cut by a female, but it is possible to kill her (or at least to drive her away) because she hardly flies away her misdeed committed. On the contrary, it stays in place in order to absorb the flowing blood.

As for the male gadfly, it bites neither animals nor humans, and is content to take the nectar flowers.

Horsefly: an insect vector of disease

The female gadfly carries protozoa, bacteria, viruses, which can cause serious infections in humans and the animals which it attacks, such as, for example, anthrax, pasteurellosis, tularemia. In some geographic areas, it also transmits a flatworm to humans who then develop disease of the eye and connective tissue.

It is especially between May and September that females are the most virulent. To avoid their attacks, when you go for a walk in forest areas or in meadows populated by horses and other large herbivores, it is better to wear covering clothing and light in color, horseflies preferring to land on a dark-colored support. You have to be careful in the event of a horsefly bite. Some people can develop very quickly breathing difficulties. This justifies an emergency consultation, but it is also necessary see a doctor in the presence of hives, inflammatory edema, if the affected area is hot or if the pain is severe.

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