Port Discover: Flying, biting, buzzing pests of summer are back!

By Judi Stuart

Contributing columnist

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They’re back!

First, you hear their unmistakable deep, humming roar buzzing around your head. Then you actually sense their frantic wings moving the air around your ankles. Then, pow! You’ve been nailed by one of the most hideous creatures of the southern wetlands. You immediately feel the pain, and over the next couple of days, there will be swelling and intense itching.

You’ve been bitten by the demon yellow fly, and you won’t soon forget it.

We have already seen the Diachlorus ferrugatus of the Tabanidae family in greater numbers than usual at our house. As we pull into our driveway, we can hear the tap of their devilish bodies hitting the car windows.

They are approximately one-half inch long with black and yellow bodies. The male of the species does not bite and eats flower nectar. The female, on the other hand, is driven to find a blood meal so that she can make her babies. She lays from 50 to 300 eggs near water sources like marshes, streams, or ponds.

Tabanids go through a complete metamorphosis including egg, larva, pupa and adult stages. They live for approximately 30 days and prefer shaded, humid areas and avoid large, open sunny areas.

Usually they like to be active in the late afternoon and on cloudy days, but they can attack at any time. They will follow a victim into a car or house if they get the chance.

The pests are attracted to motion, so if you have to be outside, stay still in one area.

Thrashing about to scare them will just cause them to attack. If you have to move, do so at a fast pace. If you decide to swat at them, it will take several tries to kill the persistent beast.

Insect repellent offers little protection unless it contains deet (diethyl toluamide). The best defense is wearing clothing that covers your body as much as possible. Keeping the grass and areas around trees in your yard closely cut will help control them.

Some people are allergic to the bites and suffer more than others. Carrying medicine prescribed by a doctor may be necessary. There are over the counter products that will treat the bites along with some home remedy concoctions.

There are homemade traps which can be very effective. Painting objects like beach balls or large plant containers black and then coating them with STP will usually work to cut down on the population. Hang the traps from trees where they will blow in the breeze. The yellow flies will be attracted by the movement and then get stuck to the surface of the trap.

Insects make-up more than two-thirds of all known organisms on the earth. Entomologists study the creatures of the insect world and help us learn how to live with them, control them, and even make use of them. Yellow flies are definitely in a class all by themselves.

Judi Stuart is the Visitor Services Manager at Port Discover.

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