I had been wearing shorts for weeks and so I hardly thought anything of it as I got out of the car, and my short-sleeved polo shirt was no better protection.
To be honest it’s a mistake I don’t often make, going out unprepared to lowland mosses or upland moors in summer. Tics and horseflies are a menace to walkers, Wildlife Trust officers and volunteers.
Long-sleeves, long pants and plenty of insect repellent is the best way to deal with this. A fireman gave me fair warning in July, he was part of the team fighting the moorland blaze on Winter Hill. As well as wearing safety clothing and carrying heavy packs of water in the heat, they also had to deal with small pests too. Great credit to those firefighters.
There are 30 species of horsefly, one of the most common being the notch-horned clegfly which is a smaller version.
These “cleggies” can give you a painful bite as you are walking through grasslands or woods, although they actually prefer to feed on the blood of cows and horses.
The females have sharp, biting mouthparts and usually feed on the blood of large mammals. Females wait in shady areas for their prey to pass by, locating it by sight with their large, compound eyes. Then they pounce, flying silently in for the bite.