Battling black flies

Black biting flies, also known as “buffalo gnats”, “punkies” or “no-see-ums”, are out in force right now in the Inland Northwest. 

Black flies like to breed near rapidly moving water like our Spokane River, flowing fast right now with the spring runoff. They are active on cloudy, humid days with low wind. Once the weather heats up and dries out, black flies become less of a problem.

These flies don’t carry disease, but leave behind bleeding skin and an itchy bite – typically on the back of the neck. They find animals and humans by sensing carbon dioxide and perspiration.

The females are the ones that bite, drawing blood that they need for egg development. Once the target is located, the black fly cuts a hole in the skin with its sharp mouthpart and draws the blood.

Thankfully, we have three non-toxic solutions for black flies:

To prevent black fly bites: GoClip®. It’s a small device infused with essential oils that deter these insects as well as mosquitoes and ticks. Clip it on to the back of your shirt collar for protection where black flies most often bite. GoClip® can also be clipped to a waistband or pocket, effectively pushing away black flies looking for a blood meal. The repellency lasts up to two weeks in the resealable package.  

To repel black flies from your outdoor space: DecoShield™ for Mosquitoes. It creates a 300-square-foot "force field" around your yard, patio or deck, repelling black flies with pleasant-smelling essential oils. In addition to being an effective deterrent to black flies, the decorative metallic plastic cover and soft glow light provide ambience.

To catch black flies: TrapStik® for Biting Flies. This trap uses our exclusive VisiLure® Technology to draw black flies with appealing colors and a multi-dimensional pattern. Black flies are atracted, then get trapped on the sticky surface. And it's water-resistant, to hold up in iffy spring weather.

Recommended treatment for black fly bites includes washing the area with soap and water and putting a cool compress or ice cube over the bite. Benadryl ointment applied to the bite site also provides relief. One should avoid scratching or touching the affected area to prevent infection.