What Attracts Deer Flies and How to Prevent Them?

As the warm weather approaches, many of us look forward to spending time outdoors, whether it’s hiking, camping, or simply enjoying a picnic in the park. However, one persistent and unwelcome companion during these outdoor adventures is the deer fly. These pesky insects have a knack for zeroing in on us, disrupting our peaceful experiences with their bites and relentless buzzing.

But what is it that draws these deer flies to us in the first place? The answer lies in a combination of factors, including our very own biology and the environment around us. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the reasons why deer flies find us so irresistible, and more importantly, we’ll explore effective strategies to keep these nuisances at bay, allowing you to fully enjoy your time outdoors.

What Attracts Deer Flies?

Carbon Dioxide

One of the primary factors that draw deer flies to us is the carbon dioxide we exhale. These insects are highly attuned to the carbon dioxide signature we emit, which serves as a beacon, guiding them towards potential hosts. The science behind this attraction is rooted in the deer fly’s keen sense of smell and their ability to detect even the slightest fluctuations in carbon dioxide levels.


In addition to our carbon dioxide emissions, deer flies are also attracted to movement. As we go about our outdoor activities, our constant motion and gestures catch the attention of these persistent insects. They perceive movement as a potential sign of a viable host, prompting them to investigate further.


Another factor that contributes to deer fly attraction is the warmth of the human body. Deer flies are sensitive to temperature changes and are drawn to the natural warmth radiated by our bodies. This sensitivity allows them to hone in on us, perceiving us as an ideal target for their feeding habits.

Scents and Odors

Deer flies also rely on their keen sense of smell to locate potential hosts. Certain scents and odors, such as those from sweat, perfumes, or even some personal care products, can serve as powerful attractants for these insects. The combination of these various scents can make us irresistible to deer flies, drawing them in for a closer inspection.

Preventing Deer Fly Encounters

Now that we understand the factors that make us appealing to deer flies, let’s explore some effective strategies to keep these pesky insects at bay and ensure a more enjoyable outdoor experience.

Clothing Choices

One of the simplest and most effective ways to deter deer flies is through our choice of clothing. Opting for light-colored, loose-fitting garments can make it more difficult for deer flies to spot and land on us. Avoiding strong scents in our clothing and personal care products can also help minimize our attractiveness to these insects.

Repellent Applications

The use of insect repellents containing active ingredients like DEET or natural alternatives like essential oils can be highly effective in deterring deer flies. These repellents work by masking or altering the scents and cues that deer flies use to locate their hosts, making us less appealing to them.

Environmental Modifications

Sometimes, the key to preventing deer fly encounters lies in making adjustments to our immediate environment. Removing standing water sources around the home, such as neglected birdbaths or stagnant puddles, can help eliminate potential breeding grounds for these insects. Maintaining a well-groomed lawn and vegetation can also discourage deer flies from taking up residence in our outdoor spaces.

Dealing with Deer Fly Bites

Despite our best efforts, it’s not uncommon to still encounter the occasional deer fly bite. These bites can be quite unpleasant, often resulting in itching, swelling, and even potential allergic reactions in some individuals.

deer fly bites

Symptoms and Reactions

Deer fly bites typically manifest as small, red, raised bumps on the skin, accompanied by intense itching and discomfort. In some cases, individuals may experience more severe reactions, such as swelling or even anaphylaxis, particularly if they have a pre-existing sensitivity or allergy to the insect’s saliva.

Treatment and Relief

Fortunately, there are several ways to alleviate the discomfort of deer fly bites. Home remedies, such as applying a cold compress or using over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams or oral antihistamines, can provide relief from the itching and swelling. In more severe cases, it’s advisable to seek medical attention, as the bites may require specialized treatment or evaluation for potential allergic reactions.

Proven Tips on How to Keep Deer Flies from Biting You

To effectively prevent deer fly bites and ensure a peaceful outdoor experience, consider the following proven tips:

  1. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.
  2. Use a strong, EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET or other effective ingredients.
  3. Avoid wearing fragrances, scented lotions, or other products that can attract deer flies.
  4. Stay away from areas with standing water, as these are prime breeding grounds for deer flies.
  5. Keep your lawn and surrounding vegetation well-maintained to discourage deer fly populations.
  6. Consider using natural deterrents like essential oils or citronella candles to create a barrier around your outdoor space.
  7. Seek shade and avoid staying in direct sunlight, as deer flies are more active in sunny conditions.


Deer flies may be a persistent nuisance, but with a better understanding of what attracts them and the implementation of effective prevention strategies, we can reclaim our outdoor spaces and enjoy the warm weather without the constant threat of these pesky insects. By making informed choices about our clothing, using repellents, and modifying our environments, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of deer fly encounters and ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable outdoor experience.

Remember, the key to outsmarting deer flies lies in anticipating their behavior and taking proactive measures to make ourselves less appealing to their keen senses. With a little preparation and the right approach, we can confidently embrace the great outdoors without the constant buzzing and biting of these unwelcome guests.


  • Faris

    I am the author and owner of insectswildlife.com, a website where I share my deep passion and extensive knowledge about the fascinating world of insects. As a dedicated entomologist and naturalist, I bring years of hands-on experience studying and observing a diverse array of species, from butterflies and deer flies to cockroaches and beyond. Through this platform, I aim to educate, inspire, and dispel common misconceptions about the vital roles insects play in ecosystems. In addition to curating informative and engaging content for the website, I actively contribute to entomological research and conservation efforts, driven by my lifelong fascination with the remarkable insects that inhabit our world.

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