Black Flies And Biting Midges Affecting Skin Of Dogs

Most people consider flies to be simple winged insects that pester us, but the reality is they spread bacteria, viruses, and parasites, while also creating problems for animals. There are different types of flies, depending on food preference, size, habits and growth. Mature flies are known to feed on blood, tears, saliva, or mucus. As adults, flies may feed on blood, saliva, tears, or mucus. Flies are part of a large, complicated order of insects known as Diptera. This order consists of more than just the house fly or other flies, but also mosquitoes.

There are four distinct phases in the lifecycle of every fly. There is the egg stage; this is then followed by the larva stage, where flies look like worms known as maggots; a pupa stage, where the fly matures inside a cocoon; and finally the adult stage. Flies tend to lay their eggs in animal waste, rotting flesh and pools of stagnant water. The location of these eggs is reliant on presence of enough food for the larva. The reproductive and growth rate of the average fly is quite quick, with an egg taking just 12-14 days to become an adult, depending on the season and weather.

Biting flies are a special group of flies that suck animal blood for nourishment. These bites, though painful and potentially allergic, cannot harm dogs unless they are many or spread a disease. Biting flies consist of black flies, mosquitoes, biting midges, deer flies, horse flies, and sand flies. Most of these flies, especially mosquitoes and black flies, will bite both humans and animals.

Flies that don’t suck blood and don’t really bite the host animal while feeding are known as Non-biting flies. These flies tend to feed on bodily secretions, and can spread diseases to dogs and other household animals.

Biting Midges

They are also known as gnats, no-see-ums,” or “punkies’’. Measuring just 0.04 to 0.16 inches, these small insects exist in a number of species. They thrive in aquatic or semi-aquatic environments, like marshes, ponds, mud or wet sand around streams. They feed on the blood of animals and humans, causing a painful bite during the process.

Black Flies

Thousands of species of black flies exist, feeding on human and animal blood. A large number of such flies are actually tiny enough to pass through the mesh of most screens. Although majority of black flies live in northern temperate and subarctic zones, they also exist in tropical and subtropical areas. There are instances where they attack and bite livestock in such great numbers that they end up killing the animal.

A diagnosis is made based on the presence of bite marks on the body or, in some cases, the flies themselves. Since black flies are tiny, they can seek refuge in the coat of a furry animal. Female adults tend to feed outside during the day. The best way of limiting exposure of animals to black flies is to keep them away from streams, especially during daylight hours, as this is where black flies breed. The use of over-the-counter insect repellents can be useful in ensuring that pets aren’t attacked by black flies.

It is quite difficult for a single owner to successfully control the presence of black flies. The process is complex, costly, and can damage the environment. For these reasons, it is best to let governmental organisations to conduct area-wide management of black flies.

Infestation of Bot Fly Larvae (Grubs, Cuterebriasis)

This is an infestation of parasites that come from rabbit or rodent Bot flies, which happen to be dissimilar Cuterebra species. It is common to find one species of fly living exclusively on one animal species. On the other hand, the rabbit Cuterebra fly attacks both dogs and cats. On rare occasions, warble flies (Hypoderma species) might infest both cats and dogs.

The adult Bot fly is big, resembles a bee, and doesn’t bite or feed. The female fly lays eggs on rocks or vegetation, where dogs come into contact with them and become infested. Majority of infestation cases manifest during the summer and fall, when the larvae grow and cause painful and pus-filled swellings that are 0.4 inches wide. These are evident in the neck, trunk, and head regions, resulting in inflamed skin and matted hair.

It is only when the veterinarian discovers the larvae that a positive diagnosis can be made. It is important not to press the boil, as this could cause the larvae to burst and create a secondary infection or anaphylactic response. It may take some time for the wound to heal after the larvae have been taken out by the veterinarian.

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