What to know about black flies

The Hopewell Township Health Department has been recently alerted by local pediatricians about numerous children with concerning bug bites, typically on the back of the neck, near the hairline. The most likely culprit are black flies (buffalo gnats), which come out in the late spring and early summer, are commonly found near rivers and streams, and often bite people around their necks or head. 

Reactions to the bugs’ saliva can include pain, swelling, blood, and itching. These bites are typically not serious, and can be treated with cold compresses, over-the-counter antihistamines, and anti-itch creams. Seek medical attention if you are bitten near the eyes or mouth, or have symptoms of fever, headache, nausea, swollen lymph nodes, aching joints, or signs of skin infection such as pus. 

Take precautions to avoid bites, including:

  • Wear light-colored clothing; black flies are attracted to dark colors. Also wear a light-colored hat.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants, covering as much exposed skin as possible; black flies don’t bite through clothing.
  • Consider wearing an EPA-registered insect repellent: learn more here- https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you

To learn more about black flies, click here- https://srhd.org/health-topics/environmental-health/black-flies

Submitted by Hopewell Township.

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