Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide







  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Vector of Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tabanidae
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Haematopota pluvialis (common horse fly, or notch-horned cleg fly); adult female: Note scale bar.
CaptionHaematopota pluvialis (common horse fly, or notch-horned cleg fly); adult female: Note scale bar.
Copyright©John W. McGarry
Haematopota pluvialis (common horse fly, or notch-horned cleg fly); adult female: Note scale bar.
AdultHaematopota pluvialis (common horse fly, or notch-horned cleg fly); adult female: Note scale bar.©John W. McGarry
Modified Manitoba trap for Tabanidae (McGarry et al., 1992).
TitleManitoba trap
CaptionModified Manitoba trap for Tabanidae (McGarry et al., 1992).
Copyright©John W. McGarry
Modified Manitoba trap for Tabanidae (McGarry et al., 1992).
Manitoba trapModified Manitoba trap for Tabanidae (McGarry et al., 1992).©John W. McGarry
Adult female: Note scale bar.
TitleTabanus. Adult female.
CaptionAdult female: Note scale bar.
Copyright©John W. McGarry
Adult female: Note scale bar.
Tabanus. Adult female.Adult female: Note scale bar.©John W. McGarry


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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).


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tabanidae

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 Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Diptera
  •                         Family: Tabanidae

Host Animals

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Animal nameContextLife stageSystem
Bos indicus (zebu)Domesticated hostCattle and Buffaloes|All Stages
Bos taurus (cattle)Domesticated hostCattle and Buffaloes|All Stages
Bubalus bubalis (Asian water buffalo)Domesticated hostCattle and Buffaloes|All Stages
Camelus dromedarius (dromedary camel)Domesticated host
Capra hircus (goats)Domesticated hostSheep and Goats|All Stages
Capreolus capreolus
Cervus dama
Cervus elaphus (red deer)
Odocoileus hemionus (black-tailed deer)
Odocoileus virginianus
Ovis aries (sheep)Domesticated hostSheep and Goats|All Stages
Rangifer tarandus (reindeer)
Sus scrofa (pigs)Domesticated host; Wild hostPigs|All Stages

Hosts/Species Affected

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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.


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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).


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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, 1989. Tabanids as vectors of disease agents. Parasitology Today, 5(3):88-96; 63 ref.

Foil LD; Hogsette JA, 1994. Biology and control of tabanids, stable flies and horn flies. Revue Scientifique et Technique - Office International des épizooties, 13(4):1125-1158; 147 ref.

Foil LD; Issel CJ, 1991. Transmission of retroviruses by arthropods. Annual Review of Entomology, 36:355-381.

Hall MJR; Farkas R; Chainey JE, 1998. Use of odour-baited sticky boards to trap tabanid flies and investigate repellents. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 12(3):241-245; 30 ref.

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.

Hillerton JE; Bramley AJ; Yarrow NH, 1985. Control of flies (Diptera: Muscidae) on dairy heifers by Flectron ear-tags. British Veterinary Journal, 141(2):160-167; 15 ref.

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.

Tarry DW, 1985. Cattle fly control using controlled-release insecticides. Veterinary Parasitology, 18(3):229-234; 9 ref.

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.

Thomson MC, 1987. The effect on tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) of deltamethrin applied to cattle either as a spray or incorporated into ear-tags. Tropical Pest Management, 33(4):329-335; 14 ref.

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.