Black Fly

Family Name




Flying – Biting


Small sized from 0.04-0.2 inches.


They are black, brownish grey or yellowish orange.


The black fly can be identified by its humped back, which has earned it the nickname “buffalo gnat”. Most black flies gain nourishment by feeding on the blood of mammals, including humans, although the males feed mainly on nectar for flight energy. Black flies are a real nuisance to humans. They spread several diseases and frequently transmit nematodes (roundworms) causing river blindness (onchocerciasis) in Africa.


Black flies occur nearly anywhere that rivers and streams are present for their immature stages, including Arctic regions and are especially abundant in northern wooded areas. Larvae live in flowing water, gathering fine particle food by straining the water with their head fans.

Tips for Control

In many cases, these biting insects are potentially deadly, because of their sheer numbers. In the most severely affected areas, protecting yourself against black flies can make or break your plans to spend time outdoors.

To minimize problems with black flies, take the following steps:

 Always seek out heavy-duty 100% DEET sprays. Be aware that most every-day-use sprays hover around 25% DEET, so check that number before buying.
 If you’re planning a trip into areas where black flies are known to be bad, then skip the traditional summer wear of typical suburban life. In short, cover yourself up with long pants and long sleeves and a head net (these bugs attack your face, nose, mouth, ears and eyes). Don’t leave any skin available for these insects to bite.
 Go for light colours, including white, off-white, tan and truly muted pastels when you are choosing your clothes, tent and other equipment. Dark colours (blue, red, green, brown and black) appear to assist black flies in finding you and turn yourself into a target for these aggressive biting insects.
 CO2 mosquito traps emit an attractant that draws mosquitoes and black flies away from areas where people congregate. As the flies and mosquitoes buzz close to the trap, they’re vacuumed inside where they’re caught in a net and die of dehydration.