19 April, 2009

Damn Doctor Flies

These little bastards have nailed me four times in the past two days. I have three bites on my left ankle and one on the back of my right hand. My ankle isn't doing too bad, but the right hand has puffed up reminiscent of when we first got here and I had to go to the hospital for the swelling.
My Right Hand Puffing Up
What can I say? Slather on some more Preparation H Creme and down a few more Benedril. Oh, and another Belikin.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Dept. of Entomology and Nematology ( has a nice scholarly article on Doctor Flies, or Yellow Flies (Diachlorus ferrugatus (Fabricius)) as they're known in Florida.

Like mosquitos, the female is the one doing the biting. Although both sexes will feed on nectar, etc., the female needs blood for egg development.

The female doctor fly is one of the most serious flying biting pests, and will attack people "vigorously", as their website says. the bites, often occur stealthily, only becoming painful about when the fly is ready to depart. The bites become somewhat painful, with large and continuously itching perimeters of the swollen bite area. I have noticed the doctor flies here tend to do a "fly-by" first, with sort of a bump against the area they plan to attack, I guess to see if you react. If you don't react, count on becoming a victim.

The doctor fly will attack virtually anytime throughout the day. It becomes very active in late afternoons and on cloudy days and indoors as well. It's quite prevalent near large water (Corozal Bay, in this case). It does tend to stay near forested areas. All exposed areas of the body may be attacked. I've only been attacked on the ankles, toes hands and fingers. Doctor flys will also readily attack cattle as well as dogs and cats.

The peak season for doctor flies is April through June. Around here, they seem to be especially bothersome now.

Mosquito repellent (repellent with DEET is said to be best) is supposed to be effective against doctor flies unless they're really hungry. Ours must be starving because bug juice doesn't seem to matter. Gloves and headnets (like for bees) provide the best protection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was repeatedly bitten by one of these things that was hanging out by the pool at the hotel in Caye Caulker. I first noticed that it was buzzing close to my head whenever I would turn around and catch it out of the corner of my eye. [it bit me several times om the shoulder and neck]. I later saw it on my hand and went to kill it when it escaped, then flew back around and immediately bit me on the cheek. [aggressive little bastard] The bites swell up and itch like crazy for days. I'm hoping they heal up without issues