Horsefly bite signs & symptoms

Pond image by Adam from

The large hairy fly from the Tabanidae family is commonly called the horsefly. Male horseflies feed on pollen and nectar. It's the female horsefly that is the cause behind human bites; she feeds on pollen, nectar and blood.

A horsefly can carry diseases like anthrax and tularaemia, in addition to their bites being considerably painful.


Horsefly bites result in a small lump appearing on the skin's surface. The bite may become red with a visible bite mark in the centre. During the healing process, the horsefly bite mark will start to resemble a bruise and develop a dark purplish, blue colour.

For sensitive skin, the appearance of whelps may also start to develop around the area that was bitten.


After a horsefly bite you will experience an itching, burning and tingling sensation on and around the area of the bite. This is a common response because of the histamine that surrounding tissues will release. When this happens be careful not to scratch or rub the infected area. A topical hydrocortizone cream can be applied to lessen the sensation of skin irritation. Neosporin is also a good ointment to both heal and soothe the bite mark.

Internal reactions

Paramedics image by JASON WINTER from

Only if you have a severe allergic reaction to a horsefly bite will you experience internal symptoms. These symptoms could be dizziness, weakness and nausea; if you began to have any one of these reactions seek medical attention immediately. Even in the absence of these reactions, as a precaution, you should take an over-the-counter antihistamine; this will ensure that your body does not have an adverse internal reaction to the bite or the horsefly's saliva.

All signs and symptoms of a horsefly bite generally last for several days.