FlyCage – A Greenhead’s Perspective on Humans

“Soft, pink, and such easy prey,” that is what Tabanus nigrovittatus — the greenhead fly would say about humans if they spoke. They do not speak but then they do not have to utter a word to get their “point” across.

Humans Make Great Prey

We greenheads and the other species of horse and deer flies really owe humans a huge debt. Humans not only provide an easy meal but also bring a variety of food sources to the table – so to speak. We don’t have to go hunt the exotic meal. No, ranchers pen them up so they make finding a blood meal easy — cattle, sheep, goats, dogs and the exotics like the llama, alpaca, and emu!

Humans are Very Entertaining

Come mid-June, it is nothing but fine dining and entertainment at the beach. You know they say, coconut oil is a new health trend and let’s just say that the Coppertone Brand of coconut oil sets off the taste of human blood like no other. One bite on a crowded beach and all the human’s stop and stare. By the second blood meal, people are gathering up their children, boomboxes, towels and headed for the parking lot. By the third bite, there is no more walking but a hurried jog and by the fourth bite, everyone is running. It’s the greatest. The trick is to wait until they are all unpacked and relaxed. It’s hard to wait that long but it is so worth the struggle.

Humans are Full of Irony

There are lots of ironies too. Humans have the brains, but not the smarts. They slather on all kinds of products that repel insects. Like those are going to work. Bah! We are not dainty mosquitoes. We are biting flies. We leave a mark. There is no question after we bite. You hear people say, “I think a mosquito just bit me.” There is no “thinking” when we bite. There is a pool of blood and an exclamation.

We love to hear that “slap” too as we are flying off. Ah, missed again. You can have another chance later when one of our sisters cuts you open with their scissor-like mouthparts and drinks your blood. Go ahead and spray on more Deet maybe light another citronella candle — dining should always be by candlelight.


While the parody of this story is somewhat comical, its basis is in the truth. Humans make great prey for greenheads and traditional repellents do not do much to thwart their biting. Another “point” for people to consider is that biting flies are not mosquitoes and what works to control mosquitoes will not work to control greenheads. To control greenheads people need to address the greenhead hunting strategy which is to look for:

  • Large dark colored objects
  • Meandering movements.

The best way to control greenheads and biting flies is use their own behavior against them. An effective tool for doing that is the Fly Cage. It attracts biting flies, such as the greenheads by presenting a large dark colored target and the subtle movement that biting flies zero in on. The greenheads fly in, but they don’t fly out and each female caught means that next year’s population of biting flies decreased by one or more broods. The Fly Cage is effective because it works to reduce the current population of biting flies and future generations too.