Stable flies resemble common houselfies, only stable flies are lighter in color, smaller, faster flyers, and most important, they inflict painful bites to humans. Unfortunately, these flies are abundant in upstate New York, particularly in areas around the Great Lakes. Stable fly pest issues have been particularly bothersome and painful for residents and vacationers in the Adirondacks, Dunkirk and other coastal cities in northern New York. These flies are an annual problem for boaters, as stable flies often attack people who are located far from the coastline. Black flies, mosquitoes, horse flies and deer flies are always a biting nuisance for New York residents each year, but stable flies persistently bite at people’s ankles, often drawing blood, and unlike most flying insect pest species, both male and female stable flies bite humans. Now is the time of year when stable fly pest activity is at its greatest, and the insects will likely continue to pose problems for upstate New York residents well into September.
In addition to being a nuisance and biting pests, stable flies are medically important as well. Much like numerous other fly species, stable flies breed on manure and other forms of decaying organic matter, like wet plant matter. If the spring and early summer seasons are particularly wet, then stable flies will certainly become abundant in the environment come late July. According to Kim Adams, an extension entomologist at SUNY ESF, stable flies have been extremely bothersome around the north shore of Oneida Lake for the past few weeks where numerous residents have succumbed to painful and injurious bites. A stable fly’s mouthparts resemble blade-like appendages when viewed under a microscope, and the flies are capable of biting through socks. Stable flies are active biters between the early morning and late afternoon hours before disappearing after dark. Cloudy and/or windy days provide residents with some relief, as stable flies are not nearly as problematic when the sun is not shining. Wearing blue-colored clothing attracts stable flies for reasons that are not entirely clear. DEET is often used to prevent stable fly bites, and EPA research states that repellents containing Picaridin effectively repel the fly pests.
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