Plague of blood-sucking horse flies invade parks

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Plague of blood-sucking horse flies invade parks

People are being urged to be on their guard from a plague of blood-sucking, disease-carrying horse flies which are invading parks and gardens in the UK.

More and more people are enjoying walks to their local parks and sunbathing as the coronavirus lockdown eases leaving them exposed to blood-sucking flies.

With thunderstorms forecast across Birmingham and the UK, it can only get worse as the flies thrive in hot and rainy weather, The Mirror reports.

Some victims have reported having such a bad reaction to horse fly bites that they needed hospital treatment.

A course of antibiotics is needed and in the worst-case scenario, the agonising bites – worse than a wasp or bee – can cause cellulitis, an infection of the skin.

The British Pest Control Association, which puts horse flies in its Top Ten Stings and Bites to Avoid List, says one theory for the plague is that more people are outdoors than usual, increasing the opportunity for the flies to target human flesh.

The flies, hardly more than half an inch long, do not buzz like bees to warn you they are coming.

They mainly target sunseekers lying in the garden, mowing the lawn or enjoying leisurely countryside walks.

Insects and repellents cannot put them off, it is claimed.

The BPCA say: “Literally designed to eat a horse, their bite is both impressive and painful.

“The horse fly is a sanguivorous insect and therefore wants to bite you.

“They can persistently chase you at a flying speed of around 15mph, and it’ll bite right through clothes.

“It has mandibles that can rip and tear flesh apart.”

Pest management company Sentomol warned: “Unlike insects which surreptitiously puncture the skin with needle-like organs, female horse flies have specially adapted mouth-parts which they use to rip and/or slice flesh apart.

“This causes the blood to seep out as the horse fly licks it up.

“The horse fly is secretive, with an annoying ability to land without being detected and escaping before the victim begins to experience any pain.

“The subsequent bite can be extremely irritating.

“Its bite is considered more immediately painful than that of a mosquito.”

The National Health Service warns victims that horse fly bites can be “very painful and leave the bitten area of skin red and raised”.

Other symptoms include a rash, dizziness, weakness and wheezing.

At the first sign of a bite, dab it with antisepctic and cover the wound with an ice pack to avoid infection and swelling.

The NHS added: “Bites can take a while to heal and can become infected.

“See your GP if you have symptoms of an infection, such as pus or increasing pain, redness and swelling.”

Unfortunately for people planning picnics in the countryside, rural areas are favourites for horse flies because there is plenty of livestock to feast on if they cannot find a human.

They are also attracted to water-filled cattle troughs, ponds and marshes, which provide a food source and an environment to breed.

According to BPCA, the top five most common bites and stings are false black widow spider, mosquitos, horse flies, wasps and hornets.

A spokeswoman warned: “Horse fly bites are particularly painful.”

The BPCA said removing standing water close to homes and from areas of the garden used in the summer – including paddling pools – would help guard against bites and stings.

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