Public Health Importance

The importance of black flies to humans centers largely around the pestiferous habits of the blood-seeking females and the disease agents they transmit. The human disease agents transmitted by black flies are those that cause onchocerciasis in the tropics of Africa and Central and South America, and mansonellosis in southern Panama and the western Amazon Region. No other human pathogen or parasite is known definitively to be transmitted by black flies, and no endemic simuliid-borne disease of humans has been reported from North America.

The biting and nuisance problems inflicted by black flies have had severe consequences for most outdoor activities, including agriculture, forestry, industrial development, military exercises, mining, and tourism, industrial and recreational development in some regions of Canada and Russia has been impeded or halted by overwhelming attacks from black flies. Actual monetary losses due to biting and nuisance problems in different sectors of the economy, although significant and sometimes crippling, are poorly documented.

Biting and Nuisance Problems

The black flies that bite humans (i.e., anthropophilic species) constitute 10% or less of the total simuliid fauna in any zoogeographic region (Table I), with some areas of the world being nearly free of biting problems. No black

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