Tips for Dealing With Yellow Flies

By: Mitch Jaugstetter

It’s that time of year again in Florida… yellow flies have returned. Ugh.

These pesky bugs with a very painful bite have returned for the season. They will be here during the summer to annoy you while you are trying to enjoy activities outside.

Maybe you’re planning to head out to the Timpoochee trail for biking, take a hike in one of the beautiful local forests or even just hang out in your own backyard.

Regardless, you want to be prepared and in the know so that you can protect yourself and continue to enjoy your summer outdoor activities without disturbance.

The name “yellow fly” is used to describe about a dozen different species of yellow-bodied biting flies. These are found in all across Florida and are most abundant during the months of May and June.

Photo from The University of Florida

The yellow fly is an aggressive biter. As a member of the Tabanidae family and known by their full name, Diachlorus Ferrugatus, the female is the inflictor of bites. The males are primarily pollen and nectar feeders. Similar to mosquitoes, yellow flies go through complete metamorphosis.

How can I prevent getting bitten by yellow flies?

The first way to prevent bites is to cover up.

Ben Brewer, director of South Walton Mosquito Control District, suggests wearing long sleeves, pants and closed-toe shoes.

“We have heard of some people getting bit on the foot or toe and being unable to work,” Brewer said.

You may have seen big, black balls hanging from string around town and wondered what the heck they are. These are known as sticky black ball traps and they are actually a great way to rid an area of yellow flies.

Photo from South Walton Mosquito Control District

Use string to hang these traps from trees limbs in a shady area. When the flies see the ball moving from the wind, they are attracted to it and land on the ball where they get stuck and die. Placing several of these balls in your yard will greatly reduce the local population of yellow flies.

“Using DEET, the ingredient found in bug spray also will help, but some might still bite you,” Brewer said.

Where can I get a trap?

South Walton Mosquito Control District is giving one free ball kit to every household or business. Kits include a black beach ball, glue, string and directions for assembly.

Brewer said his department has been giving away about 50 to 100 kits a day recently.

Normal operating hours are Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As the yellow fly population increases this season, South Walton Mosquito Control District will extend its operating hours until 4:30 p.m. from May 30 to June 9.

The office is located at 774 N Co Hwy 393, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. You can also call 850-267-2112 with any questions.

“Our goal is that people don’t depend on the one ball we give, but that they can learn how to get the supplies and make their own,” Brewer said. “The more they have the better.”

Mitch Jaugstetter is a summer intern at The 30A Company.

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