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Repelling Biting Black Flies

Black Flies

Simple Precautions to Avoid Black Fly Bites

Spokane Regional Health District  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. While some species bite and suck blood, black flies are not known to transmit diseases to humans.

You may notice you or your child has small red, bloody bites around the neck and face area this season. While some may just find them annoying, they can cause discomfort, itching and swelling at the bite area,  and sometimes even nausea and fever in small children.

Take these precautions before you head outside:

  • Black flies are attracted to dark clothing. Try to wear light colored clothing and hats.
  • They are attracted to the neck and ear area because the skin tends to be thinner in these areas. Children have thinner skin and tend to be attacked more often than adults. Cover your neck area with a collared shirt if possible.
  • Black flies are sensitive to weather conditions. They are most active on cloudy, humid days with low wind.
  • Avoid wearing shiny clothing or glittery jewelry.
  • Try to avoid sugary foods and drinks outside.
  • Don’t apply cologne or hair products if possible. They are attracted to the smell.
  • Black flies are attracted to standing water. Try hanging bags of water high above the the area you frequent outside. They will be attracted to the bags and leave you alone.
  • Consider using insect repellent with DEET to reduce your chance of being bitten.
  • Black flies also avoid Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, Citronella Oil and Lemon Oil as well as other essential oils. Try breaking a young Pine limb in half and rubbing the extract around your neck and ear area.

Remedies for Black Fly Bites:

  • If you are bitten, clean the bite with soap and water.
  • Use an anti-itch cream to reduce nails from scratching the skin.
  • Cut and apply an onion to bring down the inflamation, swelling and itching sensation.
  • Apply ice or a cold compress to the bite area.
  • Apply witch hazel
  • Try applying raw honey, or sandalwood paste which is known to be soothing to skin and reducing the burning sensation.
  • Baths with backing soda or oatmeal are helpful to calm the inflamation as well. You may also apply baking soda a the site of the bites for 10-15 minutes.

With these precautions, you should still be able to enjoy the beautiful summer weather we are having. If you have any tips to repell black flies, let us know!