Put like that, the deer fly sounds a rather cuddly and friendly creature. Anything but. Avid gardeners digging their beds on sunny days are likely to have felt the tender caress of the female deer fly, especially if wearing a dark coloured t-shirt. They have a mottled appearance with a triangular, delta wing shape.
The twin-lobed deer fly (Chrysops relictus) – common in the UK – is actually a type of horse fly, famed as blood-sucking insects. Personal experience suggests that the horse fly feeds on bare flesh but the deer fly is quite capable of chewing through clothing to get its blood meal. It is the female that bites flesh; the male just sucks – and only nectar.
Deer flies are not generally a problem for humans in the UK although they are irritating and their bite can be painful. Like the stings and bites of a number of different summer insects, deer fly bites can produce an allergic reaction in some sensitive people. In such cases, the appropriate medical treatment should be sought.
And for those of you who might have asked “What is the point of wasps?” Well for one thing, they eat deer flies!