Surviving Spring: Black Flies

Posted by Janet Costa on Jun 4, 2019 Janet Costa

“They’re baaaack!” By which we don’t mean supernatural evil spirits come to terrorize you in your home. We mean something even worse, and very much of this world—black flies.

A swarm of black flies around a human.

Swarms of them arrive in northern New England in vast numbers each spring, just as the weather is turning lovely and we all come out of hibernation to enjoy the sun, gardens, and hiking trails.

Does all of this mean you have to stay inside until the danger has passed? Absolutely not! Here’s how. 

  • Cover Up. The clothing protocol for black flies is pretty much the same as for ticks—you don’t want to expose yourself at all. So if you’re off to hike, or fish, or camp in a place that black flies call home, wear long pants, and long sleeves, and high collars. Tuck your shirts into your pants, tuck your pants into your socks, tuck your shirt sleeves into the cuffs of some gloves, and wear a head net to keep the blood suckers away from your face, nose, ears, and eyes. It’s a bit much, we know. But if you’re going to Take Back Spring, you have to show these critters you mean business.
  • Tone It Down. Tan is the new black. That’s your fashion tip for black fly season. Experts report that black flies seem to be attracted to dark colors, so don’t turn yourself into an easy target by wearing blacks, browns, reds, greens, or blues. Time to try some pastels, whites, off-whites, and tan pieces.
  • Go Chemical. If clouds of black flies have descended right there on your home property, you can reclaim your yard with a COtrap. These devices are more commonly associated with the control of mosquitoes, but they work just as well with black flies. COtraps lure black flies to their deaths by mimicking the human heat and body odors to which black flies are naturally attracted. Install the traps at a safe distance from where you want to hang out in the yard, and you’ll be able to do that spring clean up—and maybe enjoy a glass of wine—without fighting off the black fly menace.
  • Choose Your Outdoor Times. Black flies are more active after sunrise and before sunset, so head outside closer to the middle of the day.
  • Repel! Insect repellent can help reduce the number of flies buzzing around your head. Many stores carry natural alternatives to DEET-based sprays, if you’d prefer a gentler solution. Also be sure to avoid wearing perfume if you’re heading outside—these fragrances can be very attractive to our insect enemies!

Topics: Local Interest