Being a camp newbie, no one warned about this creature named the greenhead fly (aka greenfly, greenhead horse fly salt marsh greenhead or its official scientific name Tabanus nigrovittatus). I had never heard stories about their biting nature and itchy aftermath, nor did I even realize they congregate in the thousands all over camp. They are these pesky flies that are *everywhere.* I literally mean everywhere.
According to Wikipedia, these menaces to society are commonly found around coastal marshes in the Eastern U.S. The females bite so they can feast on your blood and get protein to create even more greenheads. One meal gets them enough blood to lay as many as 200 more eggs!
Now, you may be thinking, “easy fix, just use bug spray,” but these flies are immune to the supposed bug repellant. While walking to planned rec today, I realized I have about six more welts on my legs and I am incessantly itching my legs and feet.
It took me about five hours upon arriving at camp to realize I was going to be eaten alive by these bugs for the following six weeks. I actually am beginning to believe that greenheads secretly laugh at us after biting our ankles, legs, and feet. At one point, a few of the summer staff members were enjoying a weekend afternoon in hammock city (what we like to call our collection of hammocks) and were attacked by a swarm of greenheads. After almost flipping the hammock, they decided to get bug spray, after all, it is supposed to repel bugs, right?
World War Greenhead was declared, summer staff versus greenheads…I regret to inform you, the summer staff lost and got more itchy-red-welts popping up on their legs and feet.
We still have a few weeks left in summer to fight back, but it’s going to be tough.
For more reading on the subject, check out this 2011 article from the Atlantic City Press, which mentions a couple of possible repellents like “Cactus Jusice” moisturizer and watered-down Listerine or this article from Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service, which details how to build a trap.
UPDATE: We’ve been informed that the particularly flies that have been unwelcome visitors to camp are actually strawberry and pine flies, but everything else in this article still applies. They are biting flies, all the same.