Black fly populations are usually most prominent around the middle of May and continue to be a nuisance well into June. Black flies bear some resemblance to mosquitoes and are sometimes referred to as buffalo gnats or turkey gnats. Black flies subsist by feeding off the blood of animals and can carry and spread serious diseases including river blindness. Many U.S. states have public health programs to monitor and control black fly activity.
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Put products that contain bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or BTI, in any streams or running water near your home. This is a larvacide that kills insects in their early stages of life. Apply BTI between late March and late July. This is the time period when female black files lay their eggs in bodies of water, leading to a mass of black flies appearing later on.
Spray pyrethrin-based products around your home and garden to kill black flies. This won't tackle black fly problems at their roots, but will provide temporary relief if they are harassing you in your home. The spray degrades quickly once ejected so there is little chance of poisoning your family members or indoor plants. However, cats are sensitive to the effects of pyrethrin, so ensure they are outdoors before use.
Apply insect repellent to your skin if black flies are harassing you when in your garden or you are planning a trip to the woods. Look for products with a high concentration of DEET, as this is the most common active ingredient for use against black flies.
Put on lighter-coloured clothing, such as khaki, tan and white garments. According to the Algonquin Provincial Park website, black flies are more likely to pester you if you are wearing darker colours. Covering up your skin by wearing long-sleeved T-shirts and long trousers also helps keep black flies from biting you.
Head nets are not the most attractive summer garment, but they are effective at preventing black flies from invading your personal space. Head nets are available as single nets or as part of outdoor hats.
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