Horse Fly – Tabanus

Horse Fly – Tabanus sulcifrons

color photo Horse Fly - Tabanus sulcifrons dorsal view

Subfamily Tabanidae – Horse and Deer Flies
Live adult female fly photographed at DuPage County, Illinois.  Size: 19mm not including antennae

color photo Horse Fly - Tabanus sulcifrons eyes close up

Horse flies (subfamily Tabaninae) are among the world’s largest flies. The females can inflict a painful bite when in search of a blood meal for reproductive purposes.  Males do not bite, instead feeding on nectar and pollen.

Horse flies and deer flies bother me most often when I am walking; they are attracted to dark moving objects, and they will continually buzz about my head and land on my hair. I have been bitten by deer flies, but never a horse fly. Deer fly bites are terrible – and you can swat the crap out of them and they will just fly away as if nothing happened! I always wear a hat when these girls are present.

color photo Horse Fly - Tabanus sulcifrons lateral view

Order Diptera. Flies are prevalent in virtually all habitats, with over 16,000 species in North America. Flies can be distinguished from all other insects in that they only have one pair of wings. The other pair has evolved into small ball-like structures called halteres. Think about that – all other winged insects have at least 2 pairs of wings. Most flies have compound eyes and mouthparts adapted for piercing, lapping or sucking fluids.

Flies are some of my favorite insects to photograph. You can almost always find a fly hanging around no matter where you are!

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