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Spires: Yellow flies are nature’s scourge

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I believe yellow flies are put here to give us a taste of what the netherworld must be like.

Of all the flying insects, with maybe the exception of killer bees, they are the most vicious bugs on the Earth, followed closely by mosquitos, no-see-ums and those biting black flies. Of course, we cannot leave out wasp and hornets.

With that said, we are at the opening season of yellow flies. They are now out and searching for their next victim.

What makes them so frustrating is that they will land on you, bite you and you don’t even know it until they are finished with you. They can bite you through your clothes or on exposed skin making them a double threat.

Over the years I have tried a number of sprays and concoctions to ward them off. Some work better than others, but none are fool proof. They are like our COVID pandemic: they seem to mutate. Once you get something that works pretty well, they become immune to it.

I have tried all the Off! products, Avon’s Skin So Soft and mixtures of Listerine and a couple of other ingredients like vinegar.

They seem to work for a while, and then they figure a way to get you.

In the end what I have found that works the best is long pants, long-sleeve shirt, a straw hat and spray wherever there is exposed skin.

I used to go fishing on the Ochlocknee River, way below the Lake Talquin dam. That is probably the worst place on Earth for yellow flies. In the summer, it is the perfect breeding ground for them.

Hot and humid seems to be their perfect haunt. Most of the time, especially when the temperature warms up to close to 100 degrees, they are the worst. If you go early in the morning they are not out as much, but the closer to noon you get, the worse the flies get.

I have seen them so bad that I killed so many that the front of my boat was blanketed in yellow fly carcasses. That is a lot of work killing them and trying to fish. Eventually you give up and go home.

One of my friends who went fishing with me was bitten by two of them on his lip. In less than a minute both of his lips were twice their normal size. We had to head home, and I was afraid he was going into anaphylactic shock.

Thankfully, he got a couple of Benadryl pills in him and that kept him from going to the emergency room.

Most of the sprays work pretty well to keep the mosquitos away or you would probably die on a trip to the beach of river fishing.

I’ve often thought if a preacher wanted to get the attention of his congregation, he could catch up a thousand yellow flies and turn the loose in a sermon with a warning that this is what you will be dealing with if you do not repent.

However, that might be considered cruel, because those little buggers sure do hurt.

Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell” in a series of three books. You can email him at



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