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Advice issued as number of horsefly bites surges

A surge in the number of people being bitten by horseflies has been recorded this summer, and the public has been warned to be on the alert.

National trade body the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has issued advice, saying it has received enquiries from across the country.

It says rural areas are more likely to see more of the flies owing to the presence of horses and other livestock, and the standing water in troughs and natural sources, providing food sources and a breeding environment.

BPCA field officer Natalie Bungay said the heatwave marks a clear change in the UK’s weather patterns, but it is not clear what has caused the increase in the number of horsefly bites.

“After a prolonged period of hot weather, or rather without cold and uncomfortable conditions for invertebrate pests, insect numbers may increase and infestations can develop if left alone,” she said.

“Horseflies and mosquitoes are interesting because they rely on aquatic larvae in wet and marshy areas, which won’t have necessarily dried up yet, even after the last four weeks of hot and dry weather conditions.”

Ms Bungay added that horsefly bites are painful as their main source is the blood of animals such as horses who are fairly powerless to stop them, so it does not matter if the bite hurts.

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Horse owners have been complaining on online forums and social media about the impact the flies have been having on their horses, and themselves.

If possible, owners are advised to graze horses away from woods, horseflies’ favoured breeding grounds, turn out in company so equines can keep the flies off each other, and keep them in during the day if they suffer badly from being bitten.

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