Why bloodsucking horseflies are on the rise this summer

Horsefly bites can result in horrible, painful blisters
Horsefly bites can result in horrible, painful blisters

As temperatures reached the exotic heights of 31C across the country this week, sunbathers could be in for more than a tan as horse flies appear to be terrorising the nation.

Horseflies, or clegs as they are commonly known, are bloodsucking insects commonly found in Britain and can grow up to 1-1/4 inches in length.

Peak time for the insect in the UK is between May and September and one Wildlife Trust warned that this year the UK is seeing populations more like you would expect in the Mediterranean, due to the warmer weather.

Bloodsucking females

Whilst the male horsefly feeds off nectar, the female horsefly feeds off animals, including humans, by sucking their blood so she can produce eggs.

The female will lay around 25 to 1,000 eggs in damp wetland areas and also in grassy woodland areas.

It’s their jagged, razor sharp teeth that cause the damage though – and even just one bite from the bloody thirsty bug could leave unsuspecting victims in a great deal of pain.

Painful, infected bites

“A bite from a horsefly can be very painful and the bitten area of skin will usually be red and raised,” NHS Choices says.

“Horsefly 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.”

According to the NHS symptoms of horsefly bites include a larger red, raised rash, dizziness, weakness and wheezing. A part of the body may also become puffy and swollen.

In rare occasions an allergic reaction to the fly can prove fatal and in 2013 a father of four died suddenly after being bitten by the fly.

If you’re bitten by a horsefly, keep the wound clean and apply ice to minimise the itching.