By Sean Dietrich
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 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.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, the Tallahassee Democrat, Southern Magazine, Yellowhammer News, the Bitter Southerner, the Mobile Press Register and he has authored seven books.