Could it solve the yellow fly dilemma...

Delores L. Walker, Free Press Reporter

It could happen anytime, day or night. Out of nowhere, without the slightest warning a blood-sucking creature attaches itself to some part of your body and then has the audacity to invite others to come and join the feast. Residents are talking about "Yellow Flies" and according to them, the arrival of these annual pests a couple of weeks ago has caused them to reach for insect repellent time and time again. And, according to those same folks the repellent is having a more difficult time discouraging the pesky bugs this year.

'There just seems to be more of them' was the comment heard around the county this week.

The increasing insect population prompted B.Z Cashman, Operations Manager for the Town of Mayo to start the yearly spraying within the town limits earlier than usual. Cashman said there is no guarantee the spray will annihilate the swarming pests but it's worth a try. "And, it can't hurt to get a head start on the mosquitoes," said Cashman. He will be spraying as often as twice a week for the first two weeks, then one time a week thereafter. Of course the time is dependent on weather conditions since the effectiveness of the spray is hindered by high winds or heavy rainfall, so we will have to work around that Cashman said.

He also would like to remind the residents that although the spray solution is not harmful to humans it is wise to stay out of the direct line of spray by following close to the truck. Children have a tendency to want to get in the fog coming from the sprayer, a practice that should be discouraged not only because of the chemicals but because of the low visibility created by the fog near the truck Cashman suggested.

The over-abundance of the yellow fly is state-wide said Cashman. The annoying insects have been known to hang around from April to October.

In Florida, about 12 different flies are called "yellow flies" or "deer flies." These insects are about 1/2" long with black and yellow bodies and two pairs of wings. The males do not bite. Instead, they eat flower nectar. Only the females bite and suck blood. The yellow fly isn't a disease carrier, but the bite can be painful and some folks do have allergic reactions when bitten.

They are persistent with as many as 30 swarming around your head and shoulders (a prime target) at one time. Some steps to avoid them are to stay in bright, sunny areas since they tend to stay away from the sunlight. They don't normally like to enter small spaces so they won't follow you into a car or a building. (However, at least one species will follow you right in and bite hard!). The more you move it seems to attract more yellow flies. If you must move, travel at a fast jog. At about 5mph, you can outrun most yellow flies. It's hard to make yellow flies go away. If you swish them away, they just come back. If you swat them, it usually doesn't kill them. You have to slap and roll to actually kill them.

Some folks are trying the "Black Ball Solution" that is gaining popularity around the state. Give it a try and let us know the outcome. Take a standard size beach ball and spray it with a glossy black paint. Tie it up in the desired location at about eye level, then paint on an adhesive solution. The flies will be attracted to the black ball as it dangles in the breeze. When the flies land on it, they will stick to the adhesive and die. Several balls will be needed to control yellow flies in a large area.

This may not be a perfect solution, but every fly that sticks to the ball is one less that can bite you!

Delores L. Walker can be reached by email at

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