Deer Flies | Information and Control Guide

Deer flies are pests that can quickly ruin your outdoor experience. They swarm, buzz close to your ears, bounce off your skin, and even bite!

What do deer flies look like? Deer flies have light brown or gray bodies and clear wings with dark patches. The adult’s size ranges from 1/4 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch long. Some of its species own black and yellow striping. In addition, the color of their eyes is dark purple to black, marked with fluorescent green streaks.

By reading the entire guide, you will get to know deer flies better, including their identification, various characteristics, and many more! You will also learn several ways to get rid of these pesky flies from your property.

Deer Fly Identification

Deer Fly Identification

When you encounter deer flies, you can identify them with their distinct characteristics, such as:

  • Light brown or gray bodies with black and yellow stripings
  • Large, brightly-colored compound eyes
  • Clear wings with dark patches or bands
  • Antennae that are typically longer than head

The males live by feeding on nectar and pollen from various flowers, while the females are incessant blood-feeders. Meanwhile, the larvae mainly feed on organic debris.

The females have two mouthpart pairs called blades, which they use to cut their victim’s skin. 

  • Scientific Name: Chrysops
  • Appearance: Deer flies are gray or light brown in color with clear wings with dark patches and possess black and yellow striping, just like bees. They have dark purple to black eyes that are often marked with fluorescent green streaks. Their size ranges from 1/4 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch long. 
  • Color: Light brown or gray
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Habitat: Marshes, streams, and ponds. They can also thrive in a home with a damp environment.
  • Size: 1/4 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch (adult)
  • Diet: Female deer flies mainly feed on blood, while the males consume nectar and pollen from various flowers. Meanwhile, the larvae only eat organic debris, while the pupae don’t feed at all.
  • Characteristics: Deer flies are gray to light brown with dark patches on their clear wings. Their eyes can either be black or dark purple with attractive lines of fluorescent green.

Are Deer Flies Aggressive?

Female deer flies are very aggressive types. They are relentless blood-sucking feeders that quickly come back for more blood meals.

What Period of Day Do Deer Flies Come Out?

What Period of Day Do Deer Flies Come Out

Deer flies exclusively hunt during the day. The peak of their activity is usually two hours before sunset and three to hours after sunrise.

How Can I Point if I Have a Deer Fly Issue?

These pests typically live outdoors, but those people residing near marshes, lakes, or lakes can detect infestation signs within their property. The following will indications will tell you to have a deer fly issue:

Insects Swarming Around Light Sources

The adult flies like brilliant lights, so you may see these pests flying around close to post lamps, outdoor hanging lights, or porch lights.

Frequent Bites

If you keep getting nipped early in the morning or in the evening during hot days, these flies are likely the culprit since they are very active during these times. Their bites can quickly develop into an itchy red lump, just like a bee sting.

What Are Deer Flies Attracted To?

What Are Deer Flies Attracted To

Deer flies are attracted to any abrupt movement, carbon dioxide, shiny surfaces, and warmth. Once they are on their host, they will use their knife-like mandibles to cut their skin and feed on their blood.

How Do Deer Flies Get Within Businesses and Homes?

While deer flies don’t generally enter buildings, they can accidentally roam indoor spaces occasionally. Hotels and houses with pools are more prone to have issues with these pests as they love water and like shiny surfaces, along with fast movements of people.

Shops and restaurants that open windows and prop doors on hot days can encounter deer flies indoors. In addition, they also search for light, so various businesses with bright fronts and signages can be their main target.

Are Deer Flies Dangerous?

Are Deer Flies Dangerous

Deer flies are dangerous as they suck blood for their meals, causing painful bites to their victims. This can result in redness and swelling, but severe allergic reactions to deer flies’ saliva can also occur, which will need medical attention. 

They are also known carriers of tularemia—a disease caused by bacteria, resulting in fever, chills, weakness, joint pain, diarrhea, and many more!

Why Do I Have Deer Flies in My House?

Deer flies tend to come out and roam around during warm weather. During this time, they can accidentally go into your house searching for a host, relying on movement, color, and carbon dioxide output they sense.

These pests seldom enter houses since they prefer damp habitats like woodland ponds, streams, and marshes. 

How Can I Prevent Deer Fly Infestations?

To prevent deer flies from invading your property, consider using the natural ways below:

Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

Deer flies like the scent of apple and vinegar. So, you can take advantage of this by creating a homemade trap made from apple cider vinegar and liquid soap.

To make the trap, just mix some apple cider vinegar and liquid soap into a mixing bowl. After that, place the trap in the area where you often see the deer flies buzzing.

The flies will get attracted to the aroma of the mixture and will get trapped when they dip themselves too low in the solution.

After that, always make sure to keep your area clean. Like other flies, deer flies are also attracted to overripe fruits and vegetables, so ensure these items are not on your countertops just in case deer flies accidentally roam in your house.

Also, cover your garbage bins tightly to avoid attracting the sharp sense of smell of deer flies. If you suspect a deer fly infestation within your property, don’t hesitate to reach out to a licensed pest control expert for total control or go the DIY route, as shown below.


Flies despise the subtle aroma of cloves. To use as a deterrent, get a clean bowl and fill it with dried cloves. After that, put each bowl per room and wait for the result. The strong scent 

Lavender, Mint, and Marigold Plants

If you have a green thumb, planting lavender, mint, and marigold plants is beneficial for you as a homeowner. Aside from these plants have a pleasant scent, they can also help deter deer flies from entering your property. So, consider planting these in your garden and have some of them potted for your house.

Essential oils

Essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, and peppermint, are known to discourage these pesky flies from reentering your place. 

To use, pick an essential oil of your choice. Next, mix 20 drops of your chosen oil with water and put it in a clean spray bottle. Once done, spray the solution generously on the affected site and reapply as needed.

What Scent Do Deer Flies Hate?

Among the scents that deer flies hate are cinnamon and various essential oils, such as lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. While they create a pleasant fragrance around the house, they also work best in deterring deer flies.

How to Get Rid of Deer Flies?

There are various ways that you can use to get rid of these pesky flies, and some of them are the following:

1. Using Chemicals

The use of specific chemicals present in various insecticide products is highly effective in exterminating deer flies. Particularly look for products with the following content:

For proper usage of these chemicals, be sure to read the product’s label thoroughly.

2. Using Homemade Repellent

If you want to use chemicals as a last resort, you can opt for a homemade repellent. This insect repellent type is one of the easiest natural treatments for deer flies.

Before making your homemade repellent, prepare the following items:

  • Eucalyptus essential oil
  • Lemongrass essential oil
  • Vodka
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • 2 ounces of vodka
  • 8 ounces spray bottle
  • 6 ounces of water
  • 30 drops of lemongrass essential oil
  • 30 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and

To make:

Step 1: Get 8 ounces of a clean spray bottle and mix 30 drops of eucalyptus oil and another 30 drops of lemongrass oil.

Step 2: Shake the mixture well and add 2 ounces of vodka and swirl again.

Step 3: Once done, add 6 ounces of water and shake again. If you don’t have vodka, you can use white vinegar instead.

Step 4: Finally, apply the mixture first into any exposed areas of your property and the affected site.

3. Use Citronella Candles

The scent coming from the citronella candle can ward off various insect species, such as deer flies. You can buy citronella candles online for hassle-free shopping or in local stores near you. 

Although in most situations, these candles are used for relaxation purposes, they are also effective in warding off deer flies. You can put and light some candles in the pool area, balcony, sitting areas in your garden, or porches.

For a long-term benefit, make sure to clean your pool area and trim your grasses regularly to discourage deer flies from thriving on your property.

Does Anything Repel Deer Flies?

Essential oils like peppermint, citronella, and eucalyptus repel deer flies. However, if you’re too busy with DIY, you can use the following products as they contain the mentioned essential oils:

  • Coleman 100 Max Insect Repellent—This is a ready-to-spray product. This is 100% DEET, so it’s safe, and you can even apply it to your skin, belongings, and surroundings while camping. 
  • Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent— This item is in the form of lotion, so you can apply this to your skin, especially during outdoor activities. This is also fragrant-free and can be used safely for your backpacks, clothing, and other items as this item can quickly dry off.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Spray Your Yard for Deer Flies?

One of the best deer fly sprays that you can use in your yard is the 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent Sawyer Products. This is a ready-to-use product, so all you have to do is spray its content directly into your yard. This also works well in eliminating mosquitoes, bugs, and other fly species.

How Do You Treat the Bites of Deer Flies on Humans?

To treat the bites of deer flies, you have to clean the bitten site first with soap and water. After that, apply ice to the location to lessen the pain. You can also take medicines like Benadryl to lower itching and deter secondary infection.

What’s the Difference Between a Deer Fly and a Horsefly?

Deer flies are much smaller than horseflies, having a size of 1/4 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch growth for adults. Meanwhile, horseflies’ size range from 3/4 of an inch to 1-1/4 of an inch for adults.

The two have similar eyes, but their wings are different. Deer flies have clear wings with dark patches or bands, while horseflies have solid-colored wings.


The breeding sites of deer flies are hard to locate and eliminate. But, you can still see them flying around, so use this time to observe where they are going or heading. 

Once their nest is located, you can apply the methods found in this guide or call a licensed pest control expert to do the job effectively.

List of Sources

Horse and Deer Flies

Horse Flies and Deer Flies

Transmission | Tularemia