These Biting Flies Love Blue


Greenhead horse-fly (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

10 July 2023

This week at Cape Cod I discovered keep away from a biting fly I by no means see in Pittsburgh.

Greenhead horse-flies(Tabanus sp.) inhabit the salt marshes of North America’s Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida. For many of their lives they ignore people, however throughout egg-laying season the females want a blood meal to provide their second units of eggs. After they fly off the marsh looking for one thing to chew, human pores and skin could be very tempting. Ouch! It hurts instantly and raises a welt.

Greenheads are so annoying in July and August that the Cape Cod Greenhead Control Program units up traps to cut back their numbers. Earlier than I went birding at Water Road Marsh one of many gatekeepers at Seagull Seaside advised me “Don’t go close to the blue packing containers.”

Greenhead fly entice at Water Road Marsh, Yarmouth, MA, 7 July 2023 (photograph by Kate St. John)

The blue packing containers entice solely the feminine greenheads which are on the lookout for a blood meal. Because the females seek for mammals by smelling their breath, the traps are baited with synthetic ox-breath, octenol, and are painted blue as a result of it’s the bugs’ favourite coloration. Based on Cape Cod Greenhead Control, as much as 30,000 flies are present in every entice on the finish of the summer time.

In locations with out greenhead traps, akin to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Essex County, Massachusetts, there are typically indicators to warn guests.

Greenhead warning sign, Parker River NWR, July 2014 (photo by Colleen Prieto via Flicker Creative Commons license)
Greenhead warning sign, Parker River NWR, July 2014 (photo by Colleen Prieto via Flicker Creative Commons license)

At Water Road Marsh I stayed on the gravel and left my blue backpack within the automotive.

Learn in regards to the Cape Cod Greenhead Control program of their Greenhead fly pamphlet.

(images credit within the captions)

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