Black flies
By E. Ann Poole

Ah, Spring! Soft breezes, fragrant flowers and that perennial spoiler: the black fly. Specifically, the female black fly which requires blood for the development of her eggs. More than just annoying, these biting bloodsuckers inflict painful welts on their victims. They are attracted to carbon dioxide, a product of respiration, but they are also attracted by dark colored clothing, perfumes and sweat.

Think you can out-run them? Escape is nearly impossible. Black flies can fly up to ten miles in search of a warm meal. Bug spray? Recent findings indicate that DEET-based repellants may actually attract greater numbers.

And yet, the return of the black fly should be celebrated! Black flies indicate good water quality, are food for swallows and phoebes, and pollinate wild blueberries. So smile as you button-up and don that head net knowing that, in a few short weeks, they will die down and you will be enjoying the sweet fruits of their labor.

E. Ann Poole is a Consulting Ecologist & Environmental Planner in Hillsborough, NH. She can be reached by calling 603.478.1178 or via the web at

Black flies
Black flies

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