What are brakes

Aha : Why are brakes such a nuisance?

If you want to be close to the water in summer, you will be expected there. Blood-sucking insects look forward to your visit. Mosquitoes, for example, have specialized in such blood meals with their fine mouthparts. Often you only notice the sting when the inconspicuous insect has long since moved away.

The acquaintance with brakes is of a different kind. The rainflies and Chrysops species widespread in Germany - the former prefer the legs, the latter the head region - are dark in color and significantly larger than mosquitoes. Although they approach silently, brakes do not escape our sight. They fly to their victim uninhibited, you can hardly get rid of them.

In contrast to mosquitoes, horseflies do not suck blood from the veins with a delicate syringe. “They have coarse mouthparts,” says Klaus Lunau, zoologist at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Her wide jaw-nose pliers tear and saw open the tissue. After the bite, the horseflies suck the blood out of the wound. But their bite is only really painful if a nerve is injured in the process.

The females suck up to 0.2 milliliters of blood after a bite. This may take several minutes. Their most famous victims are cattle and horses. The ungulates twitch their muscles, occasionally hit their tails, and sometimes they try to help each other. It is of little use to them. Cattle and horseflies settle where they remain undisturbed, for example on the udder or the neck. When they appear in droves, horses lose up to 300 milliliters of blood per day from stings. Bleeding wounds - it's tapped! - are often afflicted by other flies, which increases the risk of infections.

Since their victims are defenseless, horseflies have little reason to be afraid. "It has been found that horseflies only switch from one horse to another when they have another blood victim nearby," says the expert on long-legged flies and insect ecology. No wonder we find them a nuisance. Once there, you can hardly be scared away. However, they also make little move to escape a fatal blow. Especially not when they are stuck. Thomas de Padova

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page