Beating the bite of the yellow fly

Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 at 09:31 AM.

Early Florida settlers used the leaves of beautyberry as a repellant for flies and other biting insects. They rubbed them on exposed skin and tucked them under the harness of horses, mules and oxen. Modern research has found this plant an effective insect repellant, and a commercial formulation is under development.

Several Franklin County residents have suggested ways to live with deer flies.

Gill and Lane Autrey drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar every morning, which they say acts as a natural repellant. This author has experimented with drinking cider vinegar and it does seem to discourage yellow flies.

Highly sensitive to yellow fly bites, Glynda Ratliff of St. George Island is has a suggestion for those who have already been bitten. As soon as possible, tape a slice of raw potato over the bite. Ratliff has found it significantly reduces her swelling.

The University of Florida has developed a “trolling fly trap” found to be highly effective in tabanid control. The trap is a blue cylinder mounted on a slow-moving object and coated with glue. The cylinder can be mounted on a lawnmower, four-wheeler, golf cart or a cap.

According to researchers, you can create an effective personal protection device by coating a blue plastic cup with tanglefoot, glue for trapping insects available in hardware stores. Mount the inverted cup on a blue ball cap and the flies will be more attracted to it than to the wearer. Flies drawn to you by the carbon dioxide you exhale will land on the cup and be trapped. Some people may find wearing such a device embarrassing.

A trap for the general area of outdoor activity can be made by painting a six-inch plastic flowerpot blue and coating in with tanglefoot. The pot must then be mounted on a moving object like a lawnmower or golf cart. This trap is only effective when in motion. Circling an area several times will reduce the number of yellow flies temporarily until more fly in from the surrounding area. The trap will not work if it sits in one place, even if it is rotating or shaking. Traps must be moved through space.

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