Deer Flies: Good Bug or Bad Bug
By Kathy Conner Cornell VCE Southside Master Gardener When my husband and I first moved to Southside, we were amazed at the amount and diversity of insects. My husband would tease that we have a new bug every week. Since I know the majority of insects are either beneficial or innocuous and that birds need a variety of insects to feed their young, I wasn’t concerned. However, my husband found one particular insect extremely annoying and we learned that was the deer fly. Deer flies are relatively small, 1/4 to 1/3 inches. The wings are clear with mottled specks throughout. Deer flies prefer to bite humans and mostly go after moving targets. Deer flies are in the genus Chrysops, they share the same family,Tabanidae, with horse flies. Both the deer fly and the horse fly inflict a painful bite to open the skin to suck out blood. Just like mosquitoes, it is only the female that bites. The saliva from the bite can cause a swelling that will go away in a day or two. However, if scratched, could lead to infection.