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PicturesTop of page
OverviewTop of page
Of the 30 genera in the family tabanidae, only the following are of veterinary importance; Tabanus and Hybomitra (horseflies), Haematopota (clegs) and Chrysops (deer flies). Flies of the family Tabanidae have large broad heads with prominent irridescent eyes. They vary in colour, body markings, wing markings and are robust and large (9-33 mm). The family is placed in the suborder Brachycera. Worldwide, tabanids are among the most important pests of livestock. The relative importance of most of the species varies temporally and geographically. Tabanids can cause weight loss of livestock due to the extreme annoyance and blood loss associated with their painful bites. Furthermore, tabanids have been described as the mechanical vectors of over 35 pathogenic agents of livestock (Foil, 1989). A single blood meal is used as a source of energy for egg production (from 100 to 1,000 eggs per meal), and females of certain species can oviposit before a blood meal is obtained (autogeny). Therefore, only one out of 50 females is required to successfully oviposit for maintenance of annual populations. There are normally wild animal blood-sources available to maintain annual tabanid populations. Eggs are laid on stems of aquatic vegetation overhangning water; larvae develop in mud or wet soil. The larval habitats are also independent of domestic livestock. Thus, use of repellents or partial repellents is the only chemical strategy that can be employed to reduce the incidence of tabanids on livestock. It has been proposed that permanent traps or possibly treated silhouette traps could be employed to intercept flies, but this control strategy has not been adequately tested. Selective grazing or confinement of livestock can reduce the impact of tabanids (Foil and Hogsette, 1994).
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
International Common Names
- English: cleg; clegs; deer flies; deer fly; deerflies; flies, deer; flies, horse; horse flies; horse fly; horse fly and deer fly infestation; horseflies; tabanid flies
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Diptera
- Family: Tabanidae
Host AnimalsTop of page
|Animal name||Context||Life stage||System|
|Bos indicus (zebu)||Domesticated host||Cattle & Buffaloes: All Stages|
|Bos taurus (cattle)||Domesticated host||Cattle & Buffaloes: All Stages|
|Bubalus bubalis (Asian water buffalo)||Domesticated host||Cattle & Buffaloes: All Stages|
|Camelus dromedarius (dromedary camel)||Domesticated host|
|Capra hircus (goats)||Domesticated host||Sheep & Goats: All Stages|
|Cervus elaphus (red deer)|
|Odocoileus hemionus (black-tailed deer)|
|Ovis aries (sheep)||Domesticated host||Sheep & Goats: All Stages|
|Rangifer tarandus (reindeer)|
|Sus scrofa (pigs)||Domesticated host, Wild host||Pigs: All Stages|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Tabanids can be pests of all species of livestock. However, animal management can influence the incidence of tabanids on livestock. Only a few tabanid species will enter barns or other structures; the species of horse flies that do enter structures are usually active during crepuscular or nocturnal periods. Tabanid attack can be reduced even when cattle are stanchioned beneath roofs supported by posts and with open sides. If given access to suitable structures, free-roaming livestock will seek shelter from tabanid attack. Livestock in pastures located well away from wooded areas will have fewer problems (Foil and Hogsette, 1994). Therefore, larger pastures should be used during peak tabanid activity. Management of grazing areas relative to tabanid seasonal occurrence may be an element of integrated management of tabanids to consider.
Pathogens VectoredTop of page Anaplasma marginale
bovine leukemia virus
classical swine fever virus
equine infectious anaemia virus
DistributionTop of page
Tabanids are pests of livestock worldwide, and they are considered to be amongst the most challenging of livestock pests to control. There are multiple factors, mostly associated with the life cycle, which contribute to this fact. Females spend only 4 min feeding on a host to generate eggs which develop into the next year's adults. Direct observation of flight behaviour is not possible; hypotheses on adult life history are often based on analyses of catches of traps, which are often inefficient. Often observations include generalizations concerning the family that has of over 4,000 species and at least 150 genera. Flies of the genus Tabanus are the most widely spread and diverse pests, but the spectrum of important tabanid species varies temporally and geographically (Foil and Hogsette, 1994).
ReferencesTop of page
Anon., 1979. Proceedings of a workshop on livestock pest management. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.
Catts EP, 1970. A canopy trap for collecting Tabanidae. Mosq. News, 23:472-474.
Foil LD; Issel CJ, 1991. Transmission of retroviruses by arthropods. Annual Review of Entomology, 36:355-381.
Hansens EJ; Rabin J, 1981. Deer Fly, Chrysops atlanticus Pechuman, activity in cultivated fields and nearby salt marsh breeding places. Environ. Entomol., 10:590-591.
Hribar LJ; Leprince DJ; Foil LD, 1992. Ammonia and carbon dioxide as attractants for Hybomitra lasiophthalma (Marquart) (Diptera: Tabanidae). J. Med. Entomol., 29:346-348.
Liddell JS; Clayton R, 1982. Long duration fly control using cypermethrin impregnated ear tags. Veterinary Record, 110, 502.
McGarry JW, 1992. Abundance, Behaviour and Gonotrophic age structure of cattle-visiting Muscidae and Tabanidae in Cheshire. PhD thesis. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University.
Parashar BD; Gupta GP; Rao KM, 1989. Control of haematophagous flies on equines with permethrin-impregnated ear tags. Medical & Veterinary Entomology, 3(2):137-140.
Pavlova RP, 1998. Effectiveness and outlook for using attractants in controlling horseflies on pastures. Parazitologiia, 22(1):71-75.
Thompson RCK, 1986. The life history and ecology of the Common Clegg, Haematopota pluvialis in the west of Scotland. PhD thesis. Edinburgh, UK: University of Edinburgh.
Thorsteinson AJ, 1958. The orientation of horse flies and deer flies (Tabanidae: Diptera). I. The attractance of heat to tabanids. Entomol. Exp. Appl., 1:191-196.
Titchener RN, 1986. Insecticidal ear tags control cattle ectoparasites. Parasitology Today, 12:26-77.
Webb JL; Wells RW, 1924. US Dept Agric. Bull.