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Warning over fanged ‘Dracula’ horseflies that can ‘bite right through clothes’

A warning has been issued to sunbathers over “Dracula” horseflies that can “bite right through clothes”.

Hordes of the fanged horseflies are being reported across the country. And they are said to be immune to insect repellents.

A combination of hot weather and sudden downpours is providing the perfect environment for the horseflies to mate in record numbers, reports The Daily Star. Their fangs can leave victims with skin infections, including cellulitis, that require hospital treatment.

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At worst, they can send allergy sufferers into potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. Sunbathers, hot tub users and festival-goers are among those facing a summer of misery from the pests.

A number of people have spoken about their experiences of being bitten by horseflies. Alice Duvall, from Amesbury, Wiltshire, said: “Was in my mum’s garden yesterday and this horrible thing landed on my arm and the bite was excruciating. Left a huge red blotch which began swelling straight away.

“It was a horse fly – there are loads of them all of a sudden in this weather. They’re really sneaky too – I never felt it land on me, I only knew when it bit me. It didn’t buzz or anything, like a wasp or bee would.”

Meanwhile Dean Collins, from Brighton, said: “Was with my girlfriend in the park and just been bitten on the leg by a horse fly. Man, it’s so painful, far worse than a wasp sting.”

Another woman added: “I’m destroyed with horsefly bites. One got infected. Horrific”, while one said: “Camped this weekend – ended up with 12 horsefly bites.”

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If bite victims who go into anaphylactic shock find their throat swelling they could choke and die if they don’t get emergency medical treatment. The British Pest Control Association has put the horsefly on its top ‘Bites to Avoid’ list – along with those from the black widow spider and mosquitoes.

It warns: “Literally designed to eat a horse, their bite is both impressive and painful. The horsefly is a sanguivorous insect and therefore wants to bite you.

“They can persistently chase you at a flying speed of around 15mph, and it’ll bite right through clothes. It has mandibles that can rip and tear flesh apart.”


The BPCA advises removing standing water close to homes and paddling pools and hot tubs to help fend off horseflies. The NHS says horsefly bites can be “very painful and leave the bitten area of skin red and raised”. Symptoms include a rash, dizziness, weakness and wheezing.

Victims are advised to dab bites with antiseptic and cover the wound with an ice pack to avoid infection and swelling. The NHS adds: “Bites can take a while to heal and can become infected. See your GP if you have symptoms of an infection, such as pus or increasing pain, redness and swelling.”

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  • June 25, 2023