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Diptera flies, such as house flies, black flies, cluster flies and greenhead flies, are all considered nuisance pests within Massachusetts homes. Considering that diptera flies are abundant and native to the northeast United States, there does not exist any adequate methods to control fly pests. Black flies are among the most bothersome of fly species within the northeast, and they become particularly abundant on the New England coast every spring season. Unlike most diptera fly species, black fly populations reach their peak during the spring before disappearing during the hot summer months. This is due to the black fly’s need to reproduce within flowing water sources. Once temperatures in the northeast begin to increase, the melting winter snow provides black flies within an ideal habitat for reproduction. Once summer arrives and temperatures reach 70 to 80 degrees, water sources in the northeast dry up, causing black flies to disappear, but the nuisance flies persist into the summer months at higher elevations in the northeast. Unfortunately, black flies re most abundant within Massachusetts at the same time when many people travel to coastal regions of the state where black fly swarms are not only a nuisance, but painful as well.

When black flies are abundant, it is not uncommon for people to sustain bloodsucking bites from these insects. These bites leave behind itchy welts that can last for days. However, black flies pose a greater threat to livestock and horses, as the flies transmit a variety of diseases to these animals. Although rare, some case reports describe human injuries resulting from black fly bites that were inflicted in the northeast. Black fly bites can lead to itchiness, swelling, cutaneous lesions and inflammation at the sight of the bite wound. Black fly bites on the neck, scalp and face can lead to severe adenopathy, commonly referred to as “black fly stiff neck” in the northeast. Black flies are considered so problematic in the northeast, that many residents of the area avoid vacationing on the coast during “black fly season”.

Have you ever sustained a bite from any type of fly? If you have, did you experience any systemic physical symptoms?