We all dread their return every year: those pesky, painful Yellow-flies [Diachlorus ferrugatus]. Research the pest online if you like; you'll get the details. I humbly admit they strike me as oddly beautiful with their rich and somewhat translucent golden hues. Yet, I'm just as much bothered by them as you are, if not more.
We have lived in the woods by the water for the last almost 20 years. If you've been here long enough you know that some years are worse than others. You begin to see seasonal changes. Ever noticed how some year's crops of flies seem slower to react making them easier to swat by hand? One season they hang low and the next they may prefer the rafters, which is what we are experiencing this year and what prompted me to convey my experiential wisdom on to you.
About 18 or so years ago, we saw a small article in The Walton Log about Mosquito Control and their efforts to control the flies. They were seeking volunteers to participate in a hands-on trial with an experimental sticky substance that did not dry. It came in a half-filled used mayo jar with a hand-written masking tape label that read “Sticky Stuff.” We were told to “apply to a black-painted beach-ball. Hang under tree. Let blow in breeze.”
“Bazinga! It's a trap!”
Allow me to expand upon those elementary instructions.
1) Blue is the “new black”! Several years ago some “they” out there determined the flies are more attracted to blues than black. I have had great success with a bright or dark blue.
2) Save the ball for the beach. Paint plastic milk jugs [the handles are a bonus] or plastic pots from the plant nursery [hang upside down and coat the inside too].
3) Hang low with lots of scope for a large swing radius. It takes less wind to move target and it covers more [air] area. Avoid shedding trees as leaves will cover the trap and render it useless.
4) Hang high under-porch eaves, out of reach of people and pets. This year's crop, I have noticed, seems to prefer hanging high and rafter roosting. Well-placed traps do the job. Relocate unproductive traps.
5) Apply product generously. Brush on a thick coating. Don't bother with the spray-on! It's a waste of money, gums up, ultimately messier and most importantly the over-spray is no friend of your environment!
6) Don't stop with one trap — the more, the better. Yes, they are dangling eyesores, but it's just for a time and your efforts may reduce next year's crop. After the season, discard traps by wrapping in newspaper like the Walton Sun.
7) Sit back and enjoy the show. Admire your work and rejoice that each fly caught is one more not biting you! I've always said, “If Florida didn't have so many pests, it would have too many people.”
Now, having said all this, you still need to keep those flyswatters handy!
You can find the “stuff” at our local hardware stores. It is now packaged under a brand name as a sticky coating or insect trap.
BLACK BALL’ THE BUGS
With the lack of rain, South Walton Mosquito Control has reportedly been getting dozens of requests a day to deal with the yellow fly problem, according to commissioner Bob Hudson. The control district crew has been deploying “black balls” to fight the insect scourge. Hudson describes the device as “a 14-inch black beach ball that is coated with a product called "Tacky Foot". The ball is hung from a branch by a string. As the wind blows the ball moves and yellow flies are attracted to the black moving object and land on the ball. The yellow fly is then stuck to the ball by the gummy substance.” If you need a "black ball" call 267-2112 and ask to speak with Cynthia. You can also send her an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include your street address and phone number.
Emily Ellis lives in Inlet Beach. She is a painter, photographer, naturalist, music lover and prose attempter. She offers studio visits by appointment and can be reached at email@example.com.