Yellow Flies: Tips for Dealing with this Florida Pest - 30A


Yellow Flies: Tips for Dealing with this Florida Pest

It’s that time of year again… the dreaded yellow flies will soon be back. Ugh.

These pesky bugs with a painful bite have returned for the season. They will be here during May and June to annoy you while you’re trying to enjoy outside activities. Maybe you’re planning to head out to the Timpoochee trail for biking, take a hike in one of the beautiful local forests, camping outdoors or even just hang out in your own backyard. Regardless, you’ll want to be prepared and in the know, so you can protect yourself and continue to enjoy your summer outdoor activities without disturbance.

Demystifying Yellow Flies

The name “yellow fly” is used to describe a dozen different species of yellow-bodied biting flies. These are found all across Florida and are most abundant during the months of May and June. The yellow fly is an aggressive biter. As a member of the Tabanidae family (their full name is Diachlorus Ferrugatus), the female is the main inflictor of pain. The males are primarily pollen and nectar feeders. Once bitten, many people experience swelling and prolonged pain. “We have heard of some people getting bit on the foot or toe and being unable to work,” said Ben Brewer, director of South Walton Mosquito Control District.

Alleviating Yellow Fly Bite Pain

“In general, yellow fly bites are painful and annoying but low-risk for complications. For most people, there is no need to seek medical attention as the symptoms can be managed at home. Cold compresses are very underrated in controlling the pain, swelling, and itching associated with these bites,” advised Bryce Amos, Medical House Calls. “Over-the-counter medications, such as Benadryl cream or hydrocortisone cream, can also offer some relief. Symptoms peak at 24-48 hours and should then start to improve. See medical attention if symptoms worsen after this period or fevers develop.”

Relief in a Warm Wrap

Preventing Yellow Fly Bites

The easiest way to prevent bites is to simply cover up. Wearing long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes can help limit exposure to flies. It’s also rumored that cactus juice can fend off yellow flies. Cactus juice can be purchased in some local stores and on Amazon.

Yellow flies are also notoriously slow. Many locals simply wait for them to land and then whack them with a flip-flop. If you’re fast enough, it can become a fun game. IF you’re fast enough.

Community Assistance by South Walton Mosquito Control District

Starting April 1, 2024, you can request a free yellow fly sticky trap kit. Kits can be picked up at their headquarters between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Availability is restricted to one kit per household for South Walton County residents. Kits are available for pick up only with proof of residency such as a utility bill with a residential address.

South Walton Mosquito Control District offers yellow fly sticky trap kits for free to residents in south Walton County that live south of Choctawhatchee Bay.

Other traps and repellents are available in local markets, with big black sticky balls being among the most effective. Yes. You read that right. Yellow flies are attracted to dark shapes and movement. By hanging inflatable black balls in your yard, coasted with sticky glue, yellow flies see the movement and the dark shape. They fly into the ball and get stuck. Within a few days, you could have dozens of yellow flies stuck to the swaying black beach ball.

Alternatives for Managing Yellow Flies

Protective measures against “yellow flies” involve using DEET-containing repellents on exposed skin, wearing physical barriers such as head nets and long clothing, and applying permethrin to clothing. Non-toxic options like “Cactus Juice” (available at Ace Hardware and Modica Market in Seaside) and “Swamp Gator” (found at Frank’s Cash and Carry) are also effective against these pests, which are prevalent for a brief period before mosquitoes become the primary concern. Another alternative is the BIGSHOT Natural Mosquito and Tick Repellent, made from lemongrass oil, recommended by the CDC and formulated based on 20 years of USDA agriculture station research to control and repel mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects.

For more info, visit South Walton Mosquito Control or call 850-267-2112.




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