It's a banner year for most wildlife here in Connecticut: Bears, Bobcats, Grasshoppers, and especially insects, they're all thriving in our hot, dry summer. Most stay out of your way, but there are a couple of particular pests that are literally biting and leaving their marks on us that I can't stand - flies. Ugh.

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There are over 73,000 species of flies and mosquitos in our world, but only a few of them bother and bite us according to the State of Connecticut. The Horse Fly, Deer Fly, Dog Fly, Sand Fly, and Green Head Fly are the most likely suspects around here to try and take a little sip of your blood. The Deer Fly and Green Head Fly are particularly aggressive towards humans, biting flies have a rigid beak with scissor-like parts, which they use to pierce flesh. Horse Fly bites are often considered the most painful due to their size, but for me, there is nothing worse than getting bitten by a sand fly on the beach. I will not go to Hammonasset in Madison again because the last time I was there, I got bit over 20 times, and those stupid things were waiting for me every time I got back from going in the water to get away from them. Their persistence has made me into a Misquamicut fan for life.

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What can you do to avoid biting flies? Covering up your skin is the best defense, and insect repellant containing Picaridin and DEET will offer some protection for exposed flesh. Big picture-wise, you should avoid swampy or muddy areas, where flies lay their eggs, and also get rid of any standing water around your home, like in old garbage cans or flower pots, etc. If you do get bitten, clean the area with soap and water, and get some calamine lotion, an over the counter antihistamine, and an ice cube to reduce any swelling. Fly swatters are great too, by the way.

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