The Simulium vittatum cytospecies IS-7 colony has been operated at the University of Georgia since 1999 and provides a unique and important resource for experimentation.
Black flies are significant pests around the world, from biting and swarming in North America, to transmitting the filarial nematode that causes Onchocerciasis, or River Blindness, in West Africa and parts of Central and South America. It is estimated that 17-25 million people are infected and ~800,000 people have some degree of vision impairment. Human Onchocerciasis is listed by the World Health Organization as a Neglected Tropical Disease and will require continued efforts to reduce its burden to society moving forward.
Black flies are also significant pests of livestock, causing substantial economic losses in Canada and South America. They are also significant pests of wildlife, causing disruptions in nesting behaviors in loons, whooping cranes and the snowy owl and cause economic losses to recreational and tourist areas. In addition, black flies are one of the few arthropods that have killed animals due to exsanguination due to massive attacks.