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Fly biting on the beaches of New Jersey

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Visitors to Jersey Shore know only too well that nothing can ruin a day on the beach quite like those pesky green flies whose bites pack a punch.

What is green-eyed?

The green-eyed horseflies, which are produced in our coastal marshes, are a species of horsefly whose scientific name is Tabanus nigrovittatus, Latin for “black-striped horsefly,” said Kyle Rossner, an insect entomologist in South Jersey. preservation.

The green-eyed ones that bite are the females who seek food from the blood to produce eggs. These eggs are laid and the larvae develop in salt marshes along the high tide line where vegetation gathers. Their larvae are predatory larvae that feed on other invertebrates, Rossner added.

Females need proteins and fats, which are rich in the blood of mammals, birds and even reptiles. They use this to produce their egg mass, which is high in protein and fat.

Rossner said greenhead larvae get enough of this in their larval diet. The first batch of greenfinch eggs is laid without blood. But for the production of the next batches of eggs, females need to look for another source of this protein.

“It’s just an ordinary old buffet of people, almost without clothes”

What attracts green heads to the beaches?

According to Rossner, it will be an abundance of food on the beaches, that is, people.

“It’s just a regular old buffet with people with hardly any clothes on, so there’s plenty of room to grab a bite to eat,” he added.

Salty greenfinch in full force. Greenhead fly populations peak in July, Rossner says, but they disappear from mid-to-late June to September.

Females bite from sunrise to sunset, with peak bites in the middle of the day when the heat and humidity are high. Rossner said the only time he never saw greenskin bites was at night.

Does wind direction affect their presence?

Wind direction and speed can affect the number of green heads in a particular area. He said that it has more effect when you move away from the swamp. So, the closer to the swamp, the less the effect will be, because that’s where flies usually live.

Speaking of beaches, it’s important to compare cities and the amount of space they occupy between the swamp and the ocean.

At Wildwood Crest, for example, if the wind blows from the ocean into the swamp, it’s unlikely that greenheads will move from the swamp to the ocean, Rossner said.

But in Strathmere or Stone Harbor Point, the swamp and the ocean beach are very close to each other. According to him, greenheads are strong flyers and large insects, so the direction of the wind will not greatly prevent them from reaching the beach.

At Sandy Hook, the breeze blowing from the bay towards the ocean can attract more flies.

Can green flies transmit disease to humans?

In general, people don’t have to worry about disease transmission from green flies, Rossner said.

“Most of all, you should beware of the big scars, the bites they leave. They can easily get infected if you don’t keep them clean or brush them constantly. I always find that if you have one or two of them, putting a bandage on them will keep you from scratching them,” he said.

Greenheads can spread the infection to cattle and are carriers of equine encephalitis, which can affect horses.

How can people stop being bitten by greenheads?

Green flies are attracted to many things, such as body heat, movement, and certain colors.

Rossner said the best defense against green heads that works for him is wearing long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and long trousers. Finding the right combination of cut, color and fabric can keep you out of it and make you incredibly cool.

Because it’s not the ideal outfit for the beach, Rossner suggested using a DEET repellant. While DEET won’t stop flies from landing on campers, it can stop them from biting.

Can people catch green heads?

With the help of pesticides, it is difficult to keep greenheads out of our yards because they are strong and large insects. This would require large doses of pesticides, which would not only be expensive, but also cause environmental problems, Rossner said.

But there was a lot of luck and exploration of the green head traps that are found in people’s yards. These are large black boxes on four legs, from which two large jugs protrude.

“There is good information with plans on how to build them yourself online and even on the Rutgers website. But there are also people in southern New Jersey who sell them ready-made,” Rossner said.

So, until it’s time to go back to school, the green heads are here to enjoy the summer with you on the beach.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and host on New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact the editor for feedback or corrections to this story.

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