The Q&A Archives: Biting Flies

Question: For the last several years, I've found myself hounded by a particularly nasty tiny black biting fly when I spend time in my flower garden in warmer months. Their bites leave a horribly itchy welt on any exposed skin. My local county extension office was less than helpful about identifying this pest, let alone helping me erradicate it. We live in a residential area, and my neighbors aren't infested. Can you help me identify and eliminate these fiends? I love to garden but these pests are spoiling my enjoyment.

Answer: Here in Vermont, we are plagued by blackflies during the spring. They are small but determined, and their bites leave a large raised welt. I've had my eye almost swollen shut from one of their bites! And before they bite, they will buzz around and around your head--it's enough to drive anyone mad! Fortunately, this pest is only around for a month or so in the spring. Do you have any running water near you--a stream or river? Blackflies breed in running water (unlike mosquitos, which breed in standing water.) Unfortunately, there is not much you can do--there's no way to stop a stream from running! I have used some insect repellents with some success--I try to use the natural ones but have occasionally resorted to something stronger. There are bug veils available, that you can wear over your head--these might do the trick during particularly bad periods.

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