Giant, Blood-sucking Green-headed Monsters! Santino Thinks “Inside the Box” to Trap “Bumper Crop” of Beachside Terror Insects

A cool, wet Spring season, followed by hot, steamy summer weather, has resulted in a “bumper crop” of greenhead flies (aka green flies) along Long Island’s south shore. Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino has declared war on the large pesky, blood-sucking insects while being environmentally responsible by deploying 25 new fly boxes (aka fly traps/fly cages) to trap and eliminate tens of thousands of these winged pests on a daily basis. Joining Supervisor Santino at a “fly-bye” demonstration at a waterside location in Lido Beach were Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and Councilman Dennis Dunne, Sr.

“I pride myself on thinking ‘outside the box’ when it comes to developing solutions to issues that confront our government,” stated Santino. “When it came to dealing with the problems presented by hordes of large, green, biting flies, however, we actually had to think ‘inside the box’ to help provide relief for residents.”

Thinking “inside the box”, Santino and Hempstead Town’s Department of Conservation and Waterways are deploying a fresh batch of 25 fly boxes just ahead of the peak greenhead season. These traps will augment the 35 existing boxes that the town has located across the township’s salt marshes. Each trap is capable of catching up to 2,500 flies per day. Accordingly, the newly deployed traps will keep over 60,000 greenhead flies per day away from area residents, beachgoers and boaters. Combining the 25 new traps with the existing 35 fly boxes, the town can trap over 150,000 flies per day.

“Supervisor Santino is putting forth an aggressive and proactive agenda to control the problem of greenhead flies,” stated Goosby. “Because of this effort, more people will be able to enjoy the great outdoors this summer.”

While the exact science behind the attraction the flytraps hold for greenheads is a subject of debate, it is known that the flies are attracted to heat and dark colors. The dark-colored boxes absorb sunlight, becoming very hot, and the insects enter the boxes, which are suspended on stilts, from below. Once entering the trap’s internal screens, the flies are unable to escape and they dehydrate.

“The greenhead fly can turn an enjoyable day at the beach into a nightmare,” said D’Esposito. “These traps help reduce the number of biting flies, providing welcome relief to beachgoers.”

Greenhead flies live in salt marshes along coastal areas, appearing in waterside areas from late June through August. The flies are much larger than the common housefly, reaching as long as a half of an inch. On a quest for blood, the main source of nutrition for the greenhead, the winged pest is capable of flying a couple of miles inland. Adult greenheads have a lifespan of three to four weeks.

The female greenhead fly lays approximately 200 eggs at a time. Upon producing eggs, the female greenhead fly requires a fresh supply of blood to be able to produce another batch of eggs. Unfortunately, the period when the greenhead flies are most active coincides with the popular beach and fishing season. Mid-July through early August is the peak period of activity for the greenhead, resulting in a high volume of bites.

“Summertime is a great time to live in and visit Hempstead Town,” said Dunne. “Having fly traps will ensure fun outdoor trips are not interrupted by these annoying insects.”

Because of their size, greenhead flies are relatively resistant to insecticide. In fact, insecticide generally eradicates the weaker flies, leaving behind a strong stock of “super greenheads.” The amount of insecticide required to kill greenheads would have undesirable effects on the environment and be incompatible with Santino’s environmentally conscious approach to pest control. The fly traps are completely environmentally friendly and are produced at a cost of approximately $100 each (includes labor and materials).

“Sometimes you have to think inside the box, especially when it comes to catching big, blood-sucking greenhead flies,” concluded Santino. “By deploying more fly boxes to catch these summertime pests, we can make outdoor summer activities more enjoyable for south shore residents, boaters and beachgoers.”