All residents of Maine are, unfortunately, familiar with the airborne insect pests known commonly as “black flies”. Unlike subtropical Florida, where the hot and humid climate provides a diverse array of insect pest species with an ideal habitat, Maine is not usually associated with swarms of biting insects. However, black flies thrive near sources of cold flowing water where the climate is relatively cool, which explains why black flies are particularly abundant in Maine. The state is home to 48 black fly species, more than any other state, but only six of these species are known for biting and sucking the blood of humans. Amazingly, these ravenous insects are known to travel distances of at least 10 miles solely to obtain a blood-meal.
The bites that these insects inflict are quite painful, as their mouthparts literally cut into skin, but anticoagulant compounds in their saliva cause blood to clot. This saliva often causes a mild allergic reaction, but some bite victims can experience a severe allergic reaction to black fly saliva. In addition to being brutal biters, black flies can also be an occasional nuisance on residential properties where flower gardens and other forms of vegetation are abundant. However, due to their need to maintain a presence near flowing water sources, black fly swarms usually do not remain within residential areas for long, unless such areas are located near creeks, ponds or streams.
Homeowners living near flowing water sources are at a particularly high risk of sustaining black fly bites, as the insects breed within sources of cold water, and they cannot be easily controlled. Luckily, black flies do not bite humans all year round, and only black fly females bite, while males feed on nectar. These fierce flies only bite during the daylight hours. Bite rates tend to be highest during the late morning and later afternoon hours, and only when temperatures are between 60 to 70 degrees. It is unusual to sustain a black fly bite when temperatures are outside of this range. Black flies are currently swarming and biting in Maine, and residents know to beware of their bites during April, May and June.
Have you ever sustained a black fly bite? Contact us today for a free pest inspection!