Black Flies

I am getting reports of some flies pestering livestock, particularly horses and ponies. I took a picture of these flies on the microscope and sent them to UGA Extension Entomologist, Dr. Nancy Hinkle. She identified them as black flies (Simulium spp), also called “Buffalo Gnats.” Complains were these flies were biting in horses’ ears and causing them to bleed. The flies stay outside and did not move into the barn. Below is from Dr. Hinkle:


“These are black flies. They are native to Georgia and we have several different species.  This one will die out when the weather warms, but we’ll have another resurgence of a different species in the fall. They love to feed in horses’ ears and will leave them bloody and scabby.  They’re being produced in flowing streams, probably half a mile away from where the horses are (or more).  Area control is possible with Bti, but that’s a governmental decision, not something the individual horse owner can undertake.

During the times of year when they were worst, you can slather the inside of our horses’ ears with petroleum jelly – a physical barrier.  Otherwise, you have to spray the animal almost daily.  As she observed, these flies will not enter structures, so keeping animals stabled during the day really helps.”

Folks have complained about flies bothering people, which they can also.  Here is some information on black flies by University of Florida with some management options:

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