Bye bye, yellow fly!

Summer time is here, which means lazy afternoons by the pool or grill, lounging in the backyard, resting peacefully…until..YOW! Those flies bite! Learn a bit more about the pesky yellow fly, and what you can do to combat it.

Yellow flies, otherwise known as Diachlorus ferrugatus in scientific-speak, are nasty little critters that love to inflict pain. They are in the class of insects that go through four life phases, starting with an egg (which are white or clear when fist laid, but typically turn a black color a few hours after; over 50 eggs can be laid at once), and working up to the phase that we care about the most: the adult phase.

Yellow flies derive their namesake from the mostly yellow body. Wings are clear, but usually contain strips of black or even yellow veins. The eyes are a greenish tint, although this can have some variation. Adult yellow flies reach about half an inch in length (although I swear that I have seen an inch-long monster on the warpath in my yard).

Yellow Fly, image courtesy of MA Zumbado/INBio, courtesy of Flickr CC
Yellow Fly – pure evil??! Image courtesy of MA Zumbado/INBio

Eggs tend to develop into larvae around bodies of water, such as creeks, draining ditches…Even pools. The adults are less apt to require this web environment, but due to the importance of the environment for egg hatching and larvae development, they rarely stray far. As such, pools or yards that border these types of water bodies can quickly become fly zones for these pesky flies.

The female looks for blood meals; as such, their persistence in the manner can be aggravating at the slightest, and downright dangerous at times. Once they set their sights on a future meal, it is very hard to deter them.

Bites can be painful and sometimes instigate painful counteractions, such as itching, burning, and even infection from scratching or other reactions. Anecdotally: my toddlers required a visit to the doctor on account of a painful bite on one’s foot (which caused swelling and an antibiotic), and a red rash on the other’s back (antibiotic cream). One needs to be mindful of bites, especially in small children.

There are some methods to thin out the population. One popular method involves the use of a milk jug – paint it black and coat it with a sticky substance such as Tangle-Trap (this is an Amazon link). Hang the ‘sticky-jug’ in a nearby tree (or place it on a visible spot, ideally next to a pool or other area where you tend to loiter), which should attract flies and hence have them stick around (sorry!) the jug, and not around you.

Proactively, one can remove nearby vegetation that the flies use to rest, as well as remove any bodies of water, if applicable. If the infestation becomes night to unbearable, long-sleeved clothing can help to keep the bites at bay.

Bites can be treated with over the counter medicine, such as Benadryl anti-itch cream. As noted above, bites that stay red, or are warm to the touch and swell, should be seen by a doctor (I am not a medical professional, so you should always call your own doctor if you are unsure).

Luckily, yellow flies tend to disappear after summer, so the pain-zone generally lasts only a few months.

Please share any remedies or stories in regards to your struggles with yellow flies in the below comments.

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