And on the Eighth Day, when the Lord finished creating the world, and was leaning back into his recliner, watching Golden Girls on TV Land, the Devil snuck into Heaven’s control room and said unto himself, “Let there be yellow flies.”
And up from the pit of Hell, where the worm dieth not and the creator of Miracle Whip is imprisoned forevermore, arose a swarm of Floridian yellow flies (also known as deer flies). And the Devil saw it and he said that it was “pretty good.”
And here we are.
The Panhandle yellow fly is a vicious, aggressive, bloodsucking insect. When they bite, two things happen. First, you swell up like a water wing. Second, you die.
My cousin Ed Lee claims that, after many years of personal research, he has found a sure-fire repellent for the yellow fly.
“Beer is the secret,” Ed Lee explains. “Seriously, there are complex B vitamins in beer, they come out through your pores and yellow flies don’t want nothing to do with B vitamins.”
A few nights ago, on Ed Lee’s porch, he tested his hypothesis with an adult beverage in his hand. Ed Lee’s bare legs were covered in yellow flies.
“Doesn’t that hurt?” I asked. “You have yellow flies all over your legs.”
“You worry too much,” came his response.
Long ago, I dated a girl who moved to Florida from Arkansas. She said they didn’t have yellow flies up there.
A few yellow flies got trapped in her mother’s car while she was driving. They bit her mother twenty-eight times. When she got home she called for her husband, he was bitten thirty-six times. A few days later, they moved back to Arkansas.
And one time my uncle’s friend, Jerry, was sitting on a screened porch. There was a rip in his screen door. Flies came in by the dozen. It was tragic.
Jerry’s wife carried him to the emergency room and told doctors he was the victim of a yellow-fly attack. Doctors said they had never seen a man’s face so swollen before.
“How many bit him?” the doctor asked.
“Only one,” his wife said. “But I smashed it with a brick before it could fly off Jerry’s forehead.”
Make no mistake, this is a serious issue facing our area, but local authorities stress that there is no need for alarm.
County officials advise people to call the Department of Mosquito Control to receive a free yellow fly deterrent system to protect your home.
The system was developed through research done by University of Florida scientists and is dispensed freely to county residents as part of a local initiative against yellow flies.
I called the county to inquire about it:
Said one dutiful county employee, “Dude, it’s just a sticky black ball. You hang it from a bird feeder.”
I asked what the governing theory behind the ball was.
The county employee replied, “Listen, it’s my lunch break, you’re gonna have to ask Gary.”
“Okay, where’s Gary?”
“He’s spray painting beach balls out back.”
As it happens, I already know the ball does nothing. Long ago, we used to hang sticky black balls around the baseball diamond before games. They were as worthless as a bra on a boar hog.
Nobody will ever forget the the adult-league softball matchup between the Baptist men’s team and Team Post Office.
My friend’s father, Randy, played centerfield—this is totally true—and was wearing baggy cargo shorts with no underbritches.
During the third inning, people started laughing and pointing at him. Randy was running circles in the outfield, groping himself.
Several men went to see what was the matter. And I don’t want to go into details because this is a family column, but a yellow fly had flown into his shorts and located Randy’s innermost qualities.
Four teammates had to carry Randy to the restroom and strip him down. That day, I watched grown Baptist men cry.
The yellow fly itself looks somewhat harmless, but it is evil incarnate, and if you see them, lock yourself indoors. Even a single bite can cause fatal allergic reactions in some.
I interviewed one such elderly woman in our church. She is so allergic that she leaves town for six months to live with her sister in Las Vegas during yellow fly season.
“It’s really not that bad,” she said. “In the winter, I live in the South, and in the summer, I get to experience the pure joy of divorcing my husband.” She laughed. “I’m sorry, what was the question again?”
Right now, I am writing you with a swollen finger and a foot that is the size of a basketball. I am lying in bed, watching Golden Girls on TV Land. Seven bites pepper my upper body. Three on my lower half.
When my wife found me like this she had to cover her eyes.
“What were you thinking,” she said. “sitting outside with all the yellow flies?”
So I told her.
Cousin Ed Lee and I were researching B vitamins.
Steve Winfield - May 23, 2019 7:01 am
You’re a mess. I’ve been in B’ham 58 years & spent my share of time in the panhandle. I can honestly say that I’ve never knowingly encountered these beasts. I’ve scrubbed a gazillion of those little black Florida Love Bugs off the front of cars though. You have to get them off within a couple days or their body acids will eat into the paint. Could be that I’ve never been down when the yellow flies were active. Never before Memorial Day or after Thanksgiving.
I love you more every day buddy.
Carol Heidbreder - May 23, 2019 8:49 am
Ohhhh! I have had close up and personal visits from these little beasts! Yep! Lotta swelling and pain! Avoid at all costs! Hadn’t occurred to me to spend half a year in Las Vegas but I bet that would do the trick! You are a hoot with these things, Sean! Good take away here is always wear underwear! Poor old Randy! ?
Donna - May 23, 2019 8:54 am
I can relate, here in Bibb County, Alabama we are cursed with black gnats. They must have located here because property taxes are lower than neighboring Jefferson and Tuscaloosa Counties. These kamikaze insects are definitely spawn of Satan!! They will “put your eye out” or at least make you think that for several minutes!! Keep writing – you have a gift!!
Kelly - May 23, 2019 9:54 am
These little beasts make their way to Central Florida too! I live in Lake Mary-city of Lakes…it’s maddening some days walking my lab. They will actually chase you down the road! Many mornings have me swatting the air like a fool. Eucalyptus oil spray does seem to work pretty good (just have to remember to spray myself and dog down?. Happy Summer?
Elizabeth - May 23, 2019 10:37 am
I think you might need more research! Maybe the b vitamins need to be colder, dark, lite, ipa, amber, micro, import, there are so many b vitamins to test, it could take awhile!
Check out the extra heavy duty fly swatter during testing.
Camille - May 23, 2019 10:55 am
I moved from the land of sweltering heat and humidity and the evil love bugs in SE Alabama to the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee and what a difference it made! The air is cool and crisp most of the time and there are NO love bugs, and very few other insects. Thanks for reminding me why I left! I did take my husband with me, however.
Nell Thomas - May 23, 2019 10:58 am
Naomi - May 23, 2019 11:15 am
In 1984, I went on a mission trip with some young people from our church to a small island off of Honduras. We had to take malaria medicine in case we got bitten by mosquitos but I never saw a mosquito. It was sand flies. I was almost eaten alive by sand flies, day and night. And, on top of that, I got food poisoning the night before we were flying home.
Keloth Anne - May 23, 2019 11:44 am
Oh my—yellow flies and horse flies are of the devil for sure!!! My Mother would have loved hearing this story and you spun it so well??
Thank you for always beginning my day with sunshine
Ella Herlihy - May 23, 2019 11:48 am
They make it all the way to Pirt Saint Joe too! Let’s figure out how to get a big fan and blow them back to the ocean!
Kathy Croft - May 23, 2019 12:04 pm
We have yellow flies in Bay Minette/Stockton, Al also. They are so annoying & hurt when bitten. It’s hard walking the dog down the street swatting at them.
David Giles - May 23, 2019 12:08 pm
Loved this one, I grew up in Middle Georgia, we had yellow flies and gnats. One could hurt you and the other one aggravated the fire out of you. We live in Southwest Louisiana now, no gnats or yellow flies. We do have love bugs which have been described as the most annoying couple on earth and giant mean horse flies. The horse flies look like a cross between a yellow fly and a Shetland pony, when they bite I swear they take a small hunk of meat. I use a salt gun to take them out, it usually takes three shots to take one down. Of course my aim could be off due to overdosing on “vitamin B”.
Karen - May 23, 2019 12:16 pm
We once decided to try camping on the beach. We arrived at a beautiful state park with lovely shade trees, right on the shore. We were stunned that there were no other campers.
As soon as we got out of the car, we were attacked by those yellow flies, and we literally ran out of there and checked in to a hotel.
You are so stinking funny.
Phillip Saunders. - May 23, 2019 12:31 pm
Hee-larious!! That is, if you discount the double helping of truth in the power of the little devils in yellow. You need to write one about “no-see-’ems” next. Invisible, but deadly. Over on the GA coast where our son lives, they call them Sand Gnats. Savannah’s “A” level baseball team was even called the Sand Gnats until they moved to SC. Same vicious, blood-sucking critter, same result from the bites (the insect, not the baseball team). BTW, I like Cousin Ed’s repellent theory, too. Very effective.
David Giles - May 23, 2019 1:05 pm
Oh I forgot to mention. Here in Louisiana, while the Love Bugs are annoying you and the horse flies are slowly chewing away at your flesh, the Formosian Termites are eating your house. It’s probably some kind of symbiotic relationship. The termites are eating away at your one defense against the other two so they can aggravate and eat you. Honey, bring me another Viramin B.
George Ann Peters - May 23, 2019 1:26 pm
While yellow flies sound awful I must say that deer flies and no seeums are without question the spawn of Satan, followed closely by gnats, spawn of Satan’s first cousin. Nonetheless, keep up the vitamin B research!
turtlekid - May 23, 2019 1:42 pm
You made me remember! Ugh.
Shelton A. - May 23, 2019 2:01 pm
Hope the B vitamins are helping now. They do hurt, don’t they. As bad or worse than Alaskan mosquitoes.
Betty F. - May 23, 2019 2:18 pm
What a great way to start my day– laughing out loud. They remind me of the description of Greenheads on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. To quote one blogger- “there’s nothing like a flesh-ripping, hemo-guzzling salt marsh horse fly, or greenhead, to set the tone for a miserable day at the beach.”
Jack Darnell - May 23, 2019 2:18 pm
And your point is? LOL Had the devil mixed the Parris Island Sand flea and your yellow fly ‘twould have been hell to pay!
Bobbie - May 23, 2019 2:54 pm
One of your best! Reminds me of September when I lived at Cape San Blas. The black flies would eat you alive if you stayed on the beach long enough! Poor Randy…a lesson learned there for sure!
Estelle S Davis - May 23, 2019 3:25 pm
I too have been bitten by the murderous,blood sucking yellow flies. Being from Tennessee, I had never heard of yellow flies. I was bitten several times and the spots began to itch just like a mosquito bite. Was I ever wrong. By the time I got back to Tennessee I had not slept for 3 days and nites. I called my MD and got a prescription to get rid of my misery. I hope I never see a yellow fly for the remainder of my life. ?
Susan Kennedy - May 23, 2019 4:59 pm
Connie Havard Ryland - May 23, 2019 5:02 pm
Lower Alabama has more than our share of yellow flies, horse flies, mosquitoes, love bugs, sand bugs, and every type of spider imaginable. If it bites, stings or is annoying, we have it. Thanks for the giggle.
Edna B. - May 23, 2019 5:03 pm
Thank goodness we don’t have those yellow flies here. We do have mosquitos and ticks though. Thanks for the morning giggles. You have a great day Sean, hugs, Edna B.
M. J. Elum - May 23, 2019 5:48 pm
Just kinda wondering how some of the above replies arrived at 5:03 pm…it’s only 1:46 EST as I post this from the yellow fly capital of Port St Joe, FL.
Liz Reed - May 23, 2019 6:10 pm
Yellow flies are the Hounds of Hell.
Paul Chappell - May 23, 2019 6:53 pm
What’s up with the slam on Miracle Whip? Though we are a two-jar-in-the-fridge family. Miracle Whip for me, and the tuna salad. Bama mayo for the misses.
Linda Moon - May 23, 2019 7:26 pm
Without a doubt, your research will reap benefits for all mankind, especially those Panhandlers. Thank you. And, so sorry for the distress you and Ed Lee endured while conducting it.
Susan from Wausau - May 23, 2019 7:45 pm
They must have a purpose, but I can’t imagine what. Don’t even bother with insect repellent. My mom says they drink it! The yellow flies seem worse than ever this year. Take cover!
Gary - May 23, 2019 8:31 pm
We have just returned this morning from a two day camping trip to the Okefenokee Swamp in Southeast Georgia. Let’s just say that the deer flies are awful this time of year in the Swamp. We were besieged by the flying devils. Unfortunately we forgot to carry bug repellent. ?
Mary Anderson - May 24, 2019 2:17 am
Oh my gosh! I’ve never heard of these flying devils, being from Nebraska! I just read of a remedy—take a folded piece of wet paper towel and place in microwave. Heat for 30 seconds. Apply hot paper towel directly to bite. I think you could do this while drinking your beer!
Crystal Ragland - May 24, 2019 2:25 am
I am currently in FL nursing my wounds inflicted by such said fly. ?? Love your article as usually. So timely!
Carol - May 24, 2019 4:01 pm
Is that what we use to call Sand fleas??
I thought you only had Love Bugs!!
We have in SWGA, thoes dang gnats. They go up everything on your body!!
Janet Mary Lee - May 24, 2019 4:17 pm
Still laughing!!!…kind of! Thank God I have not seen or felt a yellow fly yet! But I was talking it over with my dog May May that it must be something to live somewhere where the night and part of the day is just not crawling with everything Imaginable. It just gives me the creeps, I tell you!! Especially when they get into the house. I have enough trouble with the lizards getting in…I am still chuckling! Awesome story!!!
Melvin & Judy Wherley - May 26, 2019 2:15 am
We do not have yellow flies in Tennessee. But this is a very interesting and funny story also, sounds serious.
Estelle - May 28, 2019 3:27 pm
Believe me it is serious Lizards are nothing compared to yellow flies. Horse flies are nothing compared to yellow flies. My condolences to ye who live in the panhandle.
Debo - May 29, 2019 11:03 am
Could you possibly be talking about the yellow jacket?
Brenda McLaine - May 30, 2019 2:06 pm
I feel the same way about those d—n flies. They are from the devil!
peggy mitchell - June 23, 2019 12:19 pm
I think saw you the other day.; A beautiful red beard. I started to speak, but decided if I did you would write me in one of these blogs. So I didn’t. You make my day.
Russell McLaney - June 23, 2019 12:59 pm
Out in Svea Fl, down County Line Rd, the yellow fly Capitol of the world, I would take my Honda 50 and make a death defying run out to the hwy praying God don’t let this thing quit, as behind me the sky was darkened with those poison runners,
Beth Spratling - June 23, 2019 1:10 pm
In South Georgia we suffer from gnats. I stay above the “gnat line” in summer if at all possible. They will cause you to tear your hair out!
Beverly - June 23, 2019 1:51 pm
I hate those things !!! I have found nothing but staying inside that helps … If I do get bit… And my dog does … It’s Bendryl and a nap for us !!!
Robin - June 23, 2019 3:39 pm
I got bit by those nasty yellow flies about 10 years ago must of been 10 bites. I didnt even know what they were. We were camping at St. George Island. I love it there. I had the biggest knots on me from it. I developed allergies from getting them. I tried the black ball method the next time we went and it was crazy, but it did seem to keep them off of me. My kids and husband had no problem with them. I was on bike riding campground and got bit multiple times by them, WHILE RIDING!!!! It was crazy. This is for lady post earlier, they look like the big black fly but it is yellow (and they have to have big teeth, cause it hurts when they bite..lol)
Lori Hutchinson - June 23, 2019 6:12 pm
These creatures are literally the Devil incarnate. My five year old was bitten twice on his lower leg, and within 24 hours, he had cellulitis! I gave him Benadryl when I realized that he had been bitten, but it did nothing. Since Hurricane Michael, they seem to have quadrupled their population.
lLarry Kessler - June 25, 2019 6:49 pm
Dab a little Hellemann’s Mayonnaise on em. They love the stuff.