Australia Weather News

Swollen streams and running rivers are a welcome sight in outback Queensland, but it's not just graziers and locals who rely on these waters of life.

The movement of water through once-stagnant river courses is a wakeup call to black flies, a small species with a big bite.

Central Queensland Public Health Unit environmental health services director Paul Florian said the good rainfalls over the holiday period had led to an early start for surging black fly populations, more commonly known as sandflies in the Central West region.

"The previous time the rivers were in good movement, the black fly would have laid some eggs that could last for five to 10 years in the middle of the river," he said.

"Then, when we have rain events that cause flow through the river systems, the vibration says to the eggs, 'It's time to hatch, there's got to be some nutrients around.'"

Riverside campers on the menu

For travellers Peter and Jodie Crisp from Ingham, the aggressive biters are not making good neighbours as they camp next to the flooded Thomson River at Longreach.

"I got quite bitten over the last couple of days from staying here beside the Thomson," Ms Crisp said.

"I've tried not to scratch, but last night it got the better of me, so I was rattling around at 4 o'clock in the morning.

"Wives tales say Vicks VapoRub is a good thing, others say aloe vera and stuff like that, but I'm just trying to stay away from them as best I can."

So what should you do?

Mr Florian said the best bet to beat black flies was to simply stay inside and try not to get bitten.

"But if you're outside, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing helps prevent the insects biting us because they have to get through the clothing," he said.

"We should also lather the exposed skin on our body with insect repellent, and the better type of insect repellent that we can have are the ones with DEET or picaridin.

But, if a bite occurs, Mr Florian urged people to avoid the temptation to scratch and instead use antiseptic lotion or a bandage.

"These flies rip the skin and then suck the blood and it may become an irritation to us," he said.

"If we scratch, what happens is that the normal bacteria that are living on our skin can get into the bite and cause a wound, which is not real nice."

But the Crisps are not letting the pesky insects ruin their adventure.

"It's a fact of life," Mr Crisp said.

"If you want to live somewhere, try and prepare for it as best you can."