What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

black fly/bee thing
This insect came in through an open door today in League City, Texas. It buzzed like a huge bee but looked more like a giant fly. It wouldn’t hold still very well for pictures but was pretty much all black….. body, wings, legs… pure black. It was approximately 1.5 inches long and had a huge mouth or nose area that appeared to expand in width and then be slim again = like a point you wouldn’t want to be poked with. Thanks for the help.

Hi Leslie,
We are checking with Eric Eaton to see if he can identify the species of Black Horse Fly you photographed. It is in the genus Tabanus and females are blood suckers that bite painfully.

Update from Eric Eaton: (10/16/2005)
“Pretty sure this IS T. atratus. Don’t know of any other very large, all-black species. This one is a female (males have HUGE eyes that meet in the middle (top) of the head. This species is thought to be the Tlue-Tail Fly of folksong fame. Eric”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

24 Responses to Black Horse Fly

  1. Susan Parks says:

    This looks EXACTLY like the ones that hang out around my front porch this time of year…lots of bright sun and my porch rails are painted deep dark black. These flies are enormous and zoom in like stelth bombers but do well to avoid me and sit still for extended periods. Saw one today at least 1-1/2″x1/2″ and at close observation appeared to be covered in fur. Though I live in the country where there may be horses or cattle, I only have seen flies like this on my porch.

  2. Karen says:

    One of these giants landed on the back of my horse today. It looked like a black hummingbird at first, because there was no way that was a regular horse fly. When I looked more closely, it looked like a fly on steroids, except jet black with translucent black wings.


    We have them here on Long Island .I call them black back bugs(For lack of a better description) . LOL They land on the horses back and I have seen the stingers come out and dig into their spines or butt causing the horses to buck and run to try to get away. The bugs will follow them. They are horrible.

  4. John B says:

    We have been seeing them only lately here in the northern New Jersey area, mostly in our woods. And yes they do follow/ chase us ! One landed on our dog and she kept trying to eat it. Ugh. Monstrous.

  5. Sharon Bruno says:

    I lived on Long Island all my life, never saw them. I moved to SC 5 years ago, and the bugs are huge ! Saw this black fly 3 times in the last 2 days. No horses around, and they chase you.

  6. Dianne Burke says:

    Live in NE Iowa just N of Decorah.
    My dog was outside working at killing a small mouse,(I thought), but it was this huge black fly! It resembled a horse fly. I had a plastic bag in my hand and when I saw it was not a mouse but a fly I had never seen before, I picked it up with the bag and put it in a jar. It was missing a leg and one wing was askew, but very alive.
    I am 63, lived in this area all my life and have never seen this bug!

  7. Paula Robinson says:

    We had one of these HUGE flies by the front door tonight! All black approx. 1.5 inches long. Big mouth, ugh!

  8. Jena Linehan says:

    Northern NY, 1000 islands area. Found on back deck. Same size and color as described in other posts. We have fly shooters, (sorry bug lovers) and my husband is a pro with them!! This is one fly that won’t be bothering the baby calves next door any longer!!

  9. Myra says:

    We just saw one of these in the yard by the pool. My son won’t go back out to clean up now. We are in the northern Ca. Are they afraid of anything or what can I kill it with from afar?

  10. Jason Miners says:

    We live in London Ontario Canada. Just saw a massive black fly. Looked like a house fly but the size of a small cockroach. The one pictured above was definitely the same kind. A 40 year old country kid, this is the first time I’ve ever seen one. Thank you for the information.

  11. Sara Lewis Meyer says:

    Just saw one on deck flower box in Paducah, KY. I appreciate the ID tips and photos.

  12. Natalie says:

    I have an all black horse and moved him to a new boarding facility this past Fall. This spring, I have been seeing these ENORMOUS flies. While other flies, horseflies, etc. bounce off my freshly fly sprayed boy, these atrocities just land on his back and torment him. They’re QUICK too! It’s easy to swat horseflies with my hand but these are too quick!
    I use a homade fly spray with Skin So Soft, apple cider vinegar, water and essential oils. I may try regular commercial sprays to see if they work. Anyone else have something that works?

  13. Tanja says:

    I live in the middle of Maryland and saw one of these today on my car. I had never seen one so large, but we have had the worst year in along time for horse flies. It’s the first year I’ve considered getting a fly blanket for my horse. Now I feel like I want to wrap all our horses from head to toe in some protection with that monster flying around. Guess I need to go get a case of liquid Benadryl for the barn along with a gallon of lidocaine for the pain. On horses and cows the welt can be anywhere from 2 to 4 inches in diameter and stays sore for weeks.

  14. Janice says:

    Hi, I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I saw a huge all black horse fly in my backyard today! I live in the city and I have an urban garden. My vegetables are all growning in containers. There are no farm animals in my area. I was able to get a picture.

  15. Sharlene Hempel says:

    Just saw one of these large black flies for the first time on my property of 40 years. It was lethargic and clinging to a twig as I moved it around. I am in South East Texas. I thought it was just bigger because it was Texas 🙂 . Your comments have been helpful.

  16. Randi Victor says:

    We have one in our house right now. My husband tried to get rid of it last night and he wound up putting a hole in our wall and gave up.

    We live in a rural area of Florida and all our neighbors have livestock. We don’t even have a dog, but our 3 kids are wild enough to be considered animals.

    We had an incident last night where the fire rescue had to come and they left our door open, which is where we think this beast of a fly came in. It is solid black and I thought it was a large moth at first. Then when my husband saw it, he said that it was a black horse fly. So of course I looked it up and scared myself to bits. I immediately took off my dark blue dress because it is attracted to large dark objects.

    Well, woke up this morning to get the kids ready for school, and wouldnt you know, that darn fly is sitting on the wall next to the light. Today is the day!

  17. Merry Morris says:

    Found two giant ones in my pool! I live in Waterford Michigan !!

  18. Jeanine says:

    Glengarry ON, just saw one last week with my husband on our back porch. We have never seen anything close to the size of this. Very scary! To think these could sting too? Unimaginable!

  19. Henry Lang says:


  20. Brian W. says:

    Everyone is posting that they either have seen or that they have the bugs around their home. However no one has said what the bug is or if it can bite/sting you. If someone knows please let everyone know what it is or may be please. Thank You,
    Brian W.

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