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Horsefly bites on the rise in Lancashire – everything you need to know

HORSEFLY bites are particularly prominent in East Lancashire this summer, with pharmacies seeing an increased demand for over the counter remedies.

A social media post saw several people in Darwen coming forward to tell tales of their painful and troublesome bites, with some requiring professional medical attention.

Fliss Radley, from Darwen, said: “I’ve been bitten by horseflies in the past, but I was over Sunnyhurst Woods taking the dog for a walk in the evening and she was running around near the water.

“I was sat there when I got bitten, the fourth time it’s happened to me in my life, but this time felt different. This was on the Friday and by Monday my whole forearm and hand was red and swollen.

“I had to go to the doctor, who gave me some antibiotics and thankfully they’re starting to work now.”

While summer is a brilliant time for getting outdoors and enjoying the best of the UK’s beaches, forests and grassy spots, it’s not just humans that are basking in the good weather as the sun often brings out unwanted pests.

Horseflies thrive in the hot weather, and their bites can be painful, due to their razor-sharp claws. Also known as clegs, these dark-coloured creatures are about 2cm in size and tend to be found near horse stables, as well as ponds, woodlands and grassy areas.

Why do horseflies bite?

Much like mosquitoes, female horse flies feed off blood, so they can produce eggs. Their saw-like teeth slice open skin, while releasing an anti-coagulant to stop the blood from clotting as they eat.

The bites can take longer to heal than a mosquito, as they cut into the skin, rather than just piercing it.

As the name suggests, these large flies like to feed off horses, so you’ll often find them buzzing around stables and fields. However, they’ll feed off any large mammal they can access, like cows, dogs and humans.

What does a horsefly bite look like?

According to the NHS, a bite from a horsefly (or gadfly) can be extremely painful and the bitten area will usually be red and raised. Victims may also experience a larger red, raised rash called ‘hives’ or ‘urticaria’ as well as dizziness in some cases.

How can I treat a horsefly bite?

You should cleanse the bite and apply over-the-counter antiseptic spray or ointment to help keep the wound clean and prevent infection and itchiness. In most cases, a horsefly bite will heal itself within a few days.

How do I know if my bite is infected?

Excessive pus, foul odour and yellowing bubbles are the most common signs that a horsefly bite is infected. If you have any unusual symptoms, you should consult your GP. If you suffer from difficulty breathing, a rash that spreads or worsening pain as a result of the bite, you should seek urgent medical attention.

How can I prevent horsefly bites?

To prevent future horsefly bites, apply insect repellent before going outdoors. If possible, sticker to lighter coloured clothing as horseflies are attracted to darker colours, so this may help.