Biting Flies

Horse Flies & Deer Flies

Horse flies tend to be large flies, typically brown or black in color. The eyes of horse flies are very large and can be colorful or iridescent. Deer flies are closely related to horse flies and are generally somewhat smaller. The most common species are tan or brown in color. Horse flies and deer flies are biting flies which can and will bite people. Bites can occur on any part of the body and are very painful. Horse flies and deer flies are rarely a significant problem inside structures. These flies are most commonly found inside large commercial buildings, where overhead doors are left open to allow ventilation. Once inside, a horse fly or deer fly may land on or bite a person; but it is not very common.

Outdoor control of horse or deer flies is nearly impossible because of the nature of the breeding sources and the fact that these flies will generally not seek out the same surfaces on which they rest. The best control is exclusion, to prevent them from entering the building. Doors and windows need to be kept closed unless they have proper screening. Overhead doors should be fitted with a screening device. Another exclusion method is light traps. Light traps must be properly located to maximize their effectiveness.

Gnats and Midges

Midges and gnats are common names for a large number of small, non-biting flies. Many species look like mosquitoes and may form annoying swarms or clouds in the air, but they do not bite. The immature stages develop in water in pools, containers, ponds, clogged rain gutters, or in some cases, wet soil or seepage areas. Most feed on living or decaying plant matter and are an important part of aquatic food chains. Many species can survive in very stagnant or polluted water.

Bees and Wasps

Bumble Bees BumbleBee

Bumble bees are big, fuzzy insects recognized by almost everyone by their robust shape and black and yellow coloration. The common species are 3/4″ in length or more. Like honey bees, bumble bees live in a colony where the adults care for the young (larvae) produced by a single queen. Bumble bee nests are small compared to honey bees, as each nest contains only a few hundred individuals. Also, unlike honey bees, a bumble bee nest is annual and is used only one year and then abandoned. Bumble bees may re-appear in the same area from one year to the next but they do not reuse an old nest. Bumble bee colonies are usually underground in a deserted mouse or bird nest though they are occasionally found within wall cavities or even in the clothes drier vent.

In the spring, each new queen selects a nest site and starts a new colony. She lines the cavity with dry grass or moss and then collects pollen and nectar to produce a stored food called “bee bread.” Her first brood of offspring, (5 to 20), will all be workers (daughters) who take over the colony responsibilities of nest enlargement, food gathering and storage, and feeding and caring for the larvae. The queen continues to lay eggs throughout the summer. By late summer, new reproductive males and females (kings and queens) are produced. These mate on the wing and the fertilized females move to hibernation sites in the shelter of loose bark, hollow trees or other dry, protected places to lie dormant through the winter. The males and workers still in the colony die with frost or the first hard freeze.

If the vicinity of a bumble bee nest can be avoided, then leave them alone and wait for them to die in the fall as the preferred “management” option. Live-trapping bumble bees for relocation is not practical and covering the nest entrance does not usually solve the problem.

Honey Bees honeybee

Honey bees are valuable and provide tremendous benefits, specifically pollination, honey and wax. However there are times and places where honey bees create an annoyance and a nuisance, and for sting-sensitive individuals, a health threat. One such incidence is when honey bees swarm. Swarming is a natural part of the development of a honey bee colony. Swarming is a method of propagation that occurs in response to crowding within the colony. Swarming is an advantage to the bees but is a distinct disadvantage for beekeepers. Consequently, beekeepers manage hives to reduce the incidence of swarming to the extent possible. Swarming usually occurs in late spring and early summer and Bees013begins in the warmer hours of the day.

Honey bee swarms may contain several hundred to several thousand worker bees, a few drones and one queen. Swarming bees fly around briefly and then cluster on a tree limb, shrub or other object. Clusters usually remain stationary for an hour to a few days, depending on weather and the time needed to find a new nest site by scouting bees. When a suitable location for the new colony, such as a hollow tree, is found the cluster breaks up and flies to it.

Honey bee swarms are not highly dangerous under most circumstances. Swarming honey bees feed prior to swarming, reducing their ability to sting. Further, bees away from the vicinity of their nest (offspring and food stores) are less defensive and are unlikely to sting unless provoked.

In most situations when a honey bee swarm is found on a tree, shrub or house you do not need to do anything. Swarms are temporary and the bees will move on if you patiently ignore them. Stay back and keep others away from the swarm, but feel free to admire and appreciate the bees from a safe distance.

Only if a serious health threat is present because of the location of the swarm, such as in a highly traveled public area, should you need to do anything with a cluster. An experienced beekeeper may be willing to gather the swarm and relocate it for you. Note that most beekeepers do not do this because they want the swarm; swarmers often have diseases and parasites that will be difficult to manage. Beekeepers that are willing to relocate swarms do so as a public service and may rightfully charge a fee.

Click the photo below to read about Black Widow’s experience with a swarm in one of their client’s buildings!

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