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Blandford fly: Tiny black fly with a painful bite

A small fly can cause painful bites during the summer months. The Blandford fly is a 2-3 mm bloodsucking black fly. Some people bitten by it require medical attention.

black fly

Although it is named after the Blandford area, it is also found in other areas including Norwich and Oxfordshire.

The bugs tend to fly at less than half-a-metre from the ground - so most people are bitten on the legs.

Some local authorities along the River Stour in North Dorset, East Dorset and Poole spray the Blandford fly larvae in April to cut down on bites later in the season.

North Dorset District Council says treatment to reduce the number of flies emerging in the spring has since reduced Blandford fly bite reports from around 1,400 in 1988 to 17 in 2012.

The Blandford fly is also blamed for around 500 cases of allergic reaction reports in Herefordshire in 2011..

Symptoms of Blandford fly bites

The NHS says Blandford fly bites are usually most common during May and June. They often occur on the legs and are very painful. They can produce a severe, localised reaction around the area of the bite. It says symptoms include:

  • Oedema (swelling)
  • Blistering
  • A high temperature ( fever) of 38C (100.4F) or over
  • Joint pain

Treatment for Blandford fly bites

Doctors familiar with Blandford fly bites suggest the following treatments:

  • Clean the bite wound with soap and water and dry gently
  • Creams that contain camomile lotion, steroid cream or anaesthetic can soothe the pain of a bite, as can an antihistamine tablet. Do not apply cream or ointment to broken skin and always follow the instructions on the packet. Even though it may be itchy, try to avoid scratching the bite because you may damage the skin and allow bacteria to get in
  • Redness and irritation are common and should settle within a few days with these measures
  • Secondary infection is less common. If you notice red lines appearing on the skin or enlarged lymph nodes (swelling) in your armpit or groin, seek medical advice.

Blandford fly bite prevention

NHS Herefordshire recommends people should cover up and use insect repellent when out and about near affected rivers and streams.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on April 04, 2013

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