horse fly

(Tabanus spp.)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

horse fly

NatureServe

not listed

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Flight/Season

Spring and summer

Habitat

Often near ponds, streams, and marshes.

Size

Total Length: Up to 11 16

         
         
         
         
          Photo by Bill Reynolds

Identification

These are large, stout-bodied horse flies, sometimes called true horse flies.

The body is usually gray or blackish.

The wings usually do not have dark spots, though in some species the wings are entirely black.

The eyes of many species are brightly colored or iridescent. Some are bright green, some are striped. The eyes of the male meet, while those of the female are separated.

The antennae have only three segments. The third segment is elongated and subdivided, and has a basal tooth-like projection.

The fourth segment of the hind leg does not have spurs at the top (apex). The last segment of the foot (tarsus) has 3 pads.

 
Similar
Species

 


Larval Food

 

 
Adult Food

Males feed on nectar and pole of flowers. Females take blood of larger mammals.

 
Life Cycle

The larvae are aquatic.

 
Behavior

Unlike deer flies, the flight of horseflies can be silent, allowing them to land stealthily on exposed skin.


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 24, 27, 29, 30.


Comments

 


Taxonomy

Order:

Diptera (gnats, mosquitoes, true flies)

 

Suborder:

Brachycera (circular-seamed flies, mouches muscoïdes, muscoid flies, short-horned flies)

 

Infraorder:

Tabanomorpha

 

Superfamily:

Tabanoidea

 

Family:

Tabanidae (horseflies and deerflies)

 

Subfamily:

Tabaninae

 

Tribe:

Tabanini

 
Subordinate Taxa

There are hundreds of species of horseflies in the genus Tabanus worldwide, more than 100 in North America north of Mexico. At least 12 species have been recorded in Minneosta.

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

horse fly

greenhead


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

tarsus

The last two to five subdivisions of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. Plural: tarsi.

 

tibia

The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot).

 

 

 

 

 

       

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Bill Reynolds


An image of a biter! The dreaded Horse Fly as she waits for the next victim

  horse fly    

       
       
       

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Other Videos

 
  Horsefly (Tabanus) larva crawling and digging in the mud
Nature in Motion
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 6, 2016

This horsefly larva is carnivorous and may take a few years to develop. They are capable of quickly immobilizing/killing animals as large as frogs. Do not handle; it's bite feels like a wasp sting. Adult females feed on mammalian blood; males, which lack mandibles, feed on nectar and plant juices. Adults are a pest to cattle and other livestock. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to control them.

(Insecta: Diptera: Tabanidae)

 
     
  Horse Fly (Tabanidae: Tabanus) in Hand
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 1, 2010

Photographed at Kelly Slough NWR, North Dakota (31 July 2010).

 
     
  Horse-fly bites and wounds me: an experiment and explanation
WorldScott
 
   
 
About

Published on May 27, 2014

Horse-fly bites and wounds me: an experiment and explanation - I allow a vampire-like horse-fly to bite my hand wounding me to show what can happen. I strongly recommend not performing this experiment because there are horse-flies in certain parts of the world that are carriers of disease. For those horse-flies that do not carry disease, though rare, it is still possible for certain individuals to suffer a case of life-threatening anaphylactic shock from what would otherwise be a "benign" bite.

More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse-fly

More WorldScott.com / IMG * videos: http://WorldScott.com/

 
     
  Horse Fly (Tabanidae: Tabanus) Behavior
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 28, 2011

I observed two flies exhibiting this behavior (i.e., employing outstretched forelegs as either a funneling or gathering technique). I'm speculating that this may be a feeding behavior. Could this individual be gathering organic debris on foreleg tarsal setae. These large, biting flies are pollen-eaters, too. Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (27 June 2011).

 
     
  Horse Fly (Tabanidae: Tabanus) on Wall
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 20, 2010

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (19 June 2010).

 
     

 

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Bill Reynolds
6/16/2017

Location: Pennington Co. MN

An image of a biter! The dreaded Horse Fly as she waits for the next victim

horse fly


     
     
 

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