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It’s March fly season - bring a chicken.

March or Marsh flies, which include species commonly known as horse flies and deer flies, exhibit specific behaviors and preferences in their feeding and breeding habits, particularly their attraction to Marri blossom and their need to suck blood.

Attraction to Marri Blossom

  1. Floral Nectar as an Energy Source: Marri blossoms, from the Marri tree (Corymbia calophylla), are significant sources of nectar. Many insects, including March/Marsh flies, are attracted to these blossoms for the nectar, which provides them with a high-energy food source. The nectar's sweetness and its nutritional content make it an ideal energy source for adult flies, especially the males and non-biting females, which primarily feed on nectar and pollen.

  2. Ecological Role: The attraction of these flies to Marri blossom plays a part in the ecosystem's pollination network. While feeding on the nectar, the flies inadvertently carry pollen from one flower to another, aiding in the pollination process. This ecological interaction highlights the role of March/Marsh flies beyond their nuisance to humans.

Blood-Sucking Behavior

  1. Nutritional Need for Reproduction: Female March/Marsh flies require a blood meal for reproduction. The protein and iron found in blood are essential for the development of their eggs. This biological need drives the females to seek out mammals, including humans, for the blood necessary for their reproductive success.

  2. Thermoregulation and Attraction Cues: These flies are adept at detecting warmth, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals emitted by potential hosts, including humans. These cues guide them to their targets. Once a suitable host is found, they use their specially adapted mouthparts to cut through the skin and access the blood.

  3. Evolutionary Adaptation: The blood-sucking behavior is an evolutionary adaptation that allows the female flies to obtain the nutrients needed for their eggs. This adaptation ensures the continuation of their species by maximizing the chances of reproductive success.

Understanding these behaviors sheds light on the complex ecological roles of March/Marsh flies and the evolutionary adaptations that have enabled their survival.

While their attraction to Marri blossom reflects their role in the ecosystem's pollination processes, their blood-sucking behavior is driven by the reproductive needs of the females.

Both behaviors underscore the intricate balance between these insects and their environment, highlighting the importance of considering ecological impacts in pest management strategies.

So, why bring a chicken? They love March flies - tasty crunchy and sweet!

More conventional Preventative Measures

  1. Wear Light-Colored Clothing: March/Marsh flies are attracted to dark colors, so wearing light-colored clothing can make you less appealing to these flies. Opt for whites, beiges, or pastels when dressing for outdoor activities.

  2. Avoid Blue Clothing: Specifically, these flies are known to be attracted to blue, so it’s advisable to avoid wearing blue clothing when you are in areas where these flies are active.

  3. Use Repellent Sprays: A mixture of Dettol and baby oil has been anecdotally recommended by some as a repellent for various biting insects, including March/Marsh flies. While not a commercially marketed insect repellent, this mixture is thought to create a slippery and unappealing surface for these flies, potentially deterring them from landing and biting. However, it's important to test the mixture on a small skin area first to ensure there's no allergic reaction. For a more conventional approach, use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus for effective protection.

  4. Protective Clothing: In addition to light-colored clothing, wearing long sleeves, pants, and hats can physically block flies from reaching your skin. Clothing treated with permethrin, an insect repellent, can offer additional protection.

First Aid for Bites

  1. Clean the Area: Immediately wash the bite site with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection.

  2. Cold Compress: Apply a cold pack or a cold, wet cloth to the bite area to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.

  3. Avoid Scratching: Scratching the bite can increase the risk of infection. If the bite is itchy, apply a topical antihistamine or a calamine lotion to soothe the itchiness.

  4. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: If the bite is particularly painful, over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can provide relief.

  5. Monitor for Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, bites can cause severe allergic reactions. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or mouth, or a rash spreading beyond the bite site. If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Environmental Considerations

While employing these preventative measures and first aid practices, it’s also important to consider the environmental impact of your actions. Use insect repellents responsibly by following the manufacturer's instructions and applying them in moderation. By taking these steps, you can enjoy the great outdoors this March.


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