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Species Tabanus atratus - Black Horse Fly

Big Fly - Tabanus atratus Gigantic Black Fly - Tabanus atratus Huge fly - Tabanus atratus - female Black Horsefly - Tabanus atratus - female Horse Fly - Tabanus atratus - male Black Horse Fly - Tabanus atratus - female Id help needed. - Tabanus atratus Ovipositing Black Horse Fly - Tabanus atratus - female
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon (Orthorrhapha)
Infraorder Tabanomorpha
Family Tabanidae (Horse and Deer Flies)
Subfamily Tabaninae (Horse Flies)
Genus Tabanus
Species atratus (Black Horse Fly)
Other Common Names
mourning horse-fly (1)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Tabanus atratus Fabricius, 1775
Explanation of Names
atratus - Latin for 'clothed in black' (2)
Numbers
one of 107 spp. in genus Tabanus n. of Mex.
Size
Adult: 20-25 mm (Long 2001); 20-28 mm (3) (4) (very large)
Identification
Color black, including wings, or nearly black, brown-purple. Prominent mouth parts. As in other members of this genus, eyes of male meet in middle (holoptic) and those of female are separated (dichoptic):
    -

Larva white to tan, similar to other tabanids, with twelve segments and retractable tracheal siphon for respiration (Long 2001). (Another reference (5) states that larva of this species is striking in appearance, whitish, banded with black, up to 50 mm long.)
Range
TX-FL-ME-ND / se. Can. / n. Mex (6)
Primarily found in the eastern United States, although it has been collected throughout the entire continental US. (Long 2001)
Habitat
Very wide range of habitats; generally near aquatic environments (Long 2001)
Season
Apr-Dec in TX & FL (BG data)
Food
Females feed on mammalian blood, while males, which lack mandibles, feed on nectar and plant juices (Long 2001). This species especially prone to attack cattle and other livestock (1) (5).
Life Cycle
Requires moist environments in which to lay eggs, and mammals to feed on (Long 2001). Eggs laid on vegetation overhanging permanent water (3):
   
Larvae said to live "along the margins of ponds and ditches" (7). Larvae require two years to complete life-cycle (4)(5); males short-lived, females survive through fall (4).
Remarks
Although Tabanus atratus do not often bite humans, when it does happen it leaves painful memories. This fly can also transmit bacterial, viral, and other diseases such as surra and anthrax, to both humans and other animals through its bite. (Long 2001)
The effect of T. atratus on livestock can be a serious problem. Blood loss and irritation from the flies can severely affect beef and milk production, as well as grazing. Livestock usually have no way of avoiding the painful bites, and millions of dollars have been spent trying to control these pests. (Long 2001)
Print References
Arnett, p. 871--description (8)
Comstock, p. 306 (1) (BHL link)
Eaton and Kaufman, pp. 284-285, (photos male and female) (9)
Evans, p. 236 (3)
Marshall, photos 443.6, 443.7 (male and female) (7)
Milne and Milne, plate 427, p. 653 (description) (4)
Swan and Papp, pp. 604-605, fig. 1288 (5)
Internet References
Long, W. 2001. "Tabanus atratus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 23, 2012 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tabanus_atratus.html
Works Cited
1.Coenosia
2.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
3.National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America
Arthur V. Evans. 2007. Sterling.
4.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
5.The Common Insects of North America
Lester A. Swan, Charles S. Papp. 1972. Harper & Row.
6.The horse and deer flies (Diptera: Tabanidae) of Texas
Goodwin and Drees. 1996. 1996. Southwestern Entomological Society.
7.Insects: Their Natural History And Diversity: With a Photographic Guide to Insects of Eastern North America
Stephen A. Marshall. 2006. Firefly Books Ltd.
8.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
9.Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
Eric Eaton, Kenn Kaufman. 2006. Houghton Mifflin.