Jul 172012


This year, my boyfriend and I planted our very first vegetable garden.  We started off with just a patch of grass, and after a lot of hard work and determination, we now have a garden that is now blossoming with vegetable plants.   It has been a very rewarding experience for both of us.  We have learned that pumpkin plants will take over your garden completely if you let them, broccoli plants grow up to be giants, and maybe you don’t really need to plant 45 pea plants! This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link in this post.

While the garden had been a very peaceful and relaxing activity for us for quite some time, it has now become a place I fear.  Why would I fear my garden?  One word:  horseflies.  For the last two weeks, every single time I set foot in my garden, I am attacked by at least one horsefly.  They swarm around my head relentlessly, and buzz obnoxiously in my ear.  While I am thankful for them pollinating my garden, I’d rather not have to see their ugly faces while I’m out there trying to water, weed and pick the fruits of my labor.  I’d rather have the butterflies pollinate my garden.  They’re beautiful to look at, and not obnoxious.  It’s a win, win really.

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Saturday afternoon, after watering the garden, my boyfriend and I were driven inside by a horsefly, who actually followed us inside the house.  I tried my best to kill the darn thing with a baseball bat (yep, I brought out the big boy for this pesky fly), but he was just too quick and agile.   My boyfriend opened the front door, and he flew back outside.  I was not happy.  I yelled at my boyfriend, “Why did you do that?!”  I wanted that thing dead, and now it was back outside, and would most definitely continue tormenting me for the rest of the Summer.

After all of the excitement was over, I noticed I had a small red circle on my foot that looked like some sort of a bite.  At that point, I didn’t really think much of it.  When I woke up the next morning, my foot was extremely red and inflamed, and it hurt like CRAZY.  It felt like I was constantly getting stung by something.  I have been stung by bees and hornets before, and this pain was much, much worse.  It was so bad, that I could barely even walk on it.  Any amount of pressure was just too much to bear.

Talk about a great way to ruin my weekend.  Here it was, Sunday, the day I usually help with mowing the lawn, taking the trash to the dump, cleaning around the house, working in the garden, and I couldn’t do any of those things.  I could barely even move because my foot hurt so bad.  It didn’t even feel like my foot anymore.  It was so swollen and red, and very hot to touch.  I looked up horsefly bites on the Wikipedia to see if my reaction was normal, and this is what it says:

“The bite from a larger specimen can be painful, especially considering the light, agile, and airborne nature of the fly. Unlike insects which surreptitiously puncture the skin with needle-like organs, horse flies have mandibles like tiny serrated scimitars, which they use to rip and/or slice flesh apart. This causes the blood to seep out as the horsefly licks it up. They may even carve a chunk completely out of the victim, to be digested at its leisure.”

Seriously??  That thing ripped into my foot with its mouth and tore out a chunk of my skin?  Now, I really want that thing to die!  Sure enough, my symptoms were very common.  I read a lot of different stories from other horsefly bite victims, and they too had severe pain and swelling.  I found a bit of comfort in knowing this reaction was normal, but still, I didn’t want to have to deal with this.  It’s Summer, and I’m supposed to be having FUN, not being laid up because of a stupid bug bite.

I went to bed that night, with my foot propped up on a pillow, and covered with an ice pack.  I was hoping that the swelling would go down by morning, because I had to work at 8am.  When I woke up that morning, my foot was not any better.  Throughout the day at work, it only seemed to get worse.  There really wasn’t any easy way for me to prop my foot up to take the pressure off of it, and by the time I got home that night, it was screaming in pain, and so was I.  I’m sure my boyfriend was tired of my constant whining.  I felt like such a loser, complaining about a bug bite, but this was no ordinary bug bite.  My boyfriend tried to get me to go to the hospital, but I wasn’t having any of it.  He made me promise that if my foot still looked like that in the morning, I would go to the hospital.  I reluctantly agreed, but knew he was right.  I should get some medical attention for this in case it was infected.

horsefly bite

Can you guess which foot got bit??

I could not get comfortable at all that evening, so at about 7:30pm, I called it a night and headed for bed.  I propped my foot up on a pillow and watched a bit of TV, though there was absolutely nothing on, since DIRECTV pulled the plug on Comedy Central, basically the only channel I watch.  Not only was I bored out of my mind, but it was one of the hottest nights of the Summer yet and I was in pain, and completely miserable.  I took two Naproxen and got a new ice pack for my foot, before passing out for the night.  I really hoped my foot would look better in the morning, so I wouldn’t have to make a trip to the hospital.

Naproxen is my miracle drug.  I have used it since I was 15 years old, to treat the horrible menstrual cramps I get every month.  They used to be so bad that they would cause me to vomit, and I would stay home from school 2 days out of every month.  I have tried several different medications, but Naproxen is the only medication that will even touch the pain.  When I woke up this morning, my foot was looking so much better!  The swelling had gone down considerably.  My foot was no longer hot to the touch, just a bit warm, and it was certainly not as red as it had been.  It’s looking a little more purplish in color now, and it only hurts slightly when I put pressure on it.  Hopefully I am on the mend, finally!

So, from this whole experience, I have learned the horseflies are vicious little beasties, and I will now try to avoid them at all costs.  I know they are still out there, waiting for me to go back out to my garden, which has been neglected for the past couple of days.  From now on, I will not wear a dress and flip flops while working in the garden.  Even if it’s 100 degrees outside, I will cover my skin from head to toe.  I am not taking any more chances.  Those evil horseflies can go find someone else’s skin to rip into!

  7 Responses to “Horsefly Bites Are No Fun!”

  1. hey, my foot looks like your foot now, i got bitten yesterday savinga baby pigeon from a hawk outside my work ;/ it feels good to know im not the only onewhos been threw this pain i can hardly walk thanks for sharing ur story i found i soo useful


    • Oh goodness Maria, I feel your pain!! It hurt like crazy, but went away within about 5 days. It felt like FOREVER!! Hopefully you’re over it by now!

  2. I’m a bit late to the horsefly party…but misery loves company, they say. I was bitten tonight, on the top of my hand. HOLY COW! I took allergy pills right away, with no helping the pain and swelling. Right now my hand is almost double the size of my non bitten one, and terribly red and throbbing. I can’t even see my knuckles anymore. {Thankfully I’m not a hand model} : )

    • Oh, Laura! So sorry to hear :( I know just how painful those bites are. It’s hard to believe something so small can cause so much pain and swelling! I hope you’re feeling better soon!

  3. You all have my sympathies. After being bitten bitten 3 times within about 30 seconds or so on Monday (unlike most insect bites you can actually feel it when one of these horrible little horse flies is savaging your skin!), by one or possibly two of them, one bite had a fairly normal reaction, the second one on my ankle became very red and swollen and the third which was on the back of my left leg just above the knee also caused extreme itchiness, swelling and redness around the bite. The latter had the worst reaction with the affected are spreading to the top of my leg and entire inner thigh and around my knee. It looked and also felt hot like extreme sunburn so on Tuesday I took an antihistamine pill and also applied antihistamine cream to affected areas. Today, Wednesday I awoke sometime before 5am with all symptoms worse and severe pain in my knee joint which felt like gout/ arthritic pain. Getting out of bed and downstairs took 45 minutes and involved shuffling down one step at a time on my backside By the time I made it to the doctor I had become fairly adept at hopping on one leg. The doctor has prescribed naproxen and antibiotics and I’m pleased to say that a couple of hours after taking both and resting my leg, I able to walk relatively normally again.

    It’s reassuring to read that my reaction is not so unusual and I hope my own account might benefit others in the same way. Advice I would offer would be seek medical attention sooner rather than later if you have any sort of extreme reaction to a bite.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story Colin, though I am very sorry to hear you got bit, THREE times no less! I can’t imagine! The naproxen really worked wonders for me too. I hope you are back to your old self real soon!

  4. Hi, I got bit yesterday and had the same annoying result of a swollen foot and itchiness. I’m taking Benadryl and if that doesn’t work I’ll have to check out what’s a stronger antidote. I HATE horse flies forever!!!!

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