They can feel the bite - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

They can feel the bite

Black flies have been attacking area children

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Posted: Friday, June 10, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Judee Scarola wants parents to be warned.

Black flies are here in force, and they're out for blood.

"They're little. They don't look menacing, but they are," said Scarola, of Coeur d'Alene.

The biting bugs attacked four of Scarola's young children this week while they were playing at Blue Grass Park.

The mom didn't know what kind of bugs they were, and brought her children inside the family's home to keep them away from the insects.

Later, when Scarola gave her baby a bath, she found blood matted in the child's hair. Scarola thought the toddler was injured, but soon found small, red bumps and dried blood on the back of the little girl's neck. Another daughter began developing larger red welts on the back of her neck.

Scarola learned from her children's pediatrician that the culprits were black flies, a pest that has been plaguing kids in the Lake City since last weekend.

Earlier this week, school nurses in Coeur d'Alene began seeing students with red, itchy bumps on their skin, often near the hairline on the back of the neck.

Laura Rumpler, school district spokeswoman, said most reports of students with bites are in the elementary schools, but school nurses throughout the district have seen them. Most schools have a handful of cases, one had 15.

School officials sent a note to parents Thursday alerting them to the prevalence of the biting bugs, and providing tips on preventing bites and treating them.

"They are not a public health threat," said Cynthia Taggart, spokeswoman for the Panhandle Health District.

The blood suckers aren't known to transmit any diseases, but they are a nuisance.

The regional health district in Spokane issued a statement this week about the biting flies.

"The painfully itchy bite of the black fly is created when it cuts a hole in the skin to suck blood from animals and people. The flies attack around the eyes, ears, scalp and occasionally on the arms and exposed legs," according to the release. "The pain and swelling of the bite are due to the body's allergic response to the fly's saliva that they inject when feeding."

Scarola's children's pediatrician warned her to keep an eye on the bites; the development of hives would indicate an allergic reaction that requires medical attention.

The insects' increased presence isn't normal for this region.

"It's the level of the rivers and lakes right now," Taggart said.

Unlike mosquitoes, which reproduce in standing water, Taggart said black flies reproduce in running water.

"The water is really high and it's really moving right now," she said.

The bugs live for about a month, but with the slow snow melt this year, Taggart expects the pests to be a problem for a while in North Idaho.

Steps to reduce chance of bites

n Black flies are more active during the day, especially at dusk and dawn, so avoid areas near water during those times.

n Wear light colored clothing, especially whites and tan as the flies are attracted to darker colors.

n Consider using insect repellent to reduce your chance of being bitten but follow directions closely when applying to children.

n Never put deet-based insect repellent on a child's face; follow directions closely for any type of topical medication.

Information courtesy of the Coeur d'Alene School District

What to do if your child is bitten

n Clean the bite and apply a topical product to reduce itching as over-scratching may cause infection.

n Don't be alarmed if you see blood spots on your child's collar or shirt. These flies seem to favor the neck and hairline area.

n The bite should go away and any swelling should be relieved within a few days. Contact your family physician with any concerns.

Information courtesy of the Coeur d'Alene School District

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  • SnoopyWoopy posted at 1:58 am on Tue, Dec 27, 2011.

    SnoopyWoopy Posts: 14

    I think that a household pest control company could help in this situation. Black flies are quite dangerous and you should be very careful. Some simple measures can really keep you on the safe side.

  • alwaysanderson posted at 6:20 pm on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    alwaysanderson Posts: 1

    OMG! These bugs are in my yard today. They ate my girls and some neighbor girls alive! The kids didnt even feel them on them, they only started to see the blood all over each other. Hope this goes away soon!

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