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Deer Fly (Chrysops vittatus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Deer Fly



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Image Credit: Charles G. near Miami, MO
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Female Deer Flies are a biting nuisance to both people and livestock as well as any other warm-blooded animal it comes across.



Updated: 09/23/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Though physically smaller than the related Horse Fly, Deer Flies still pack a painful bite and their irksome presence can make it miserable to spend time outdoors. Bites are not lethal, just annoying. Welts from bites will heal on their own, but ice may help alleviate some symptoms like swelling and pain. This species is yellow-orange with three black lines on the thorax and four thinner black lines on the abdomen. Females feed on blood and are biters. Males do not drink blood and instead take nectar from flowers. Deer are the typical host for this fly, but in their absence, Deer Fly females will take a blood meal from anything or anyone.

Females lay fertilized eggs in or around water. Once hatched, larvae eat the blood meal provided by the mother as well as aquatic insects. As they grow, larvae remain near, or in, water sources like puddles, troughs, and ponds. Adults can be found anywhere, especially areas where deer are known to roam. It is difficult to move them out of areas they have established as hunting territories like certain parts of a beach or backyard patios.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Tabanidae
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          Genus: Chrysops
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            Species: vittatus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Chrysops vittatus
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 12mm (0.39" to 0.47")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange, black, orange, brown
Descriptors: biting, bleeding, painful, large, buzz, flying
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 10mm and 12mm
Lo: 10mm
Md: 11mm
Hi: 12mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Deer Fly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Deer Fly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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