To the uninitiated, my title of boatyard pests might seem to refer to the two-legged variety that makes life hard for folks just interested in getting on with prepping their boat for the water. But no, it refers to insects.
Honestly, I’ve spent most of my life not thinking about Greenhead flies. But working one summer in a boatyard here in Massachusetts put me wise to the facts: they won’t go away on their own. For those not from coastal areas infested with Greenheads, I can personally assure you that No-see-umms, Blackflies, and Mosquitos are benevolent neighbors to have. As you drive along the coastal roads, you might notice the big black wooden boxes on poles in the marshes. Those boxes trap and control the population; greenheads are not too susceptible to chemical controls. They seem to laugh them off and get back to the serious business of bitting you.
The female Greenhead has a mouth designed to take a divot out of your leg and suck the blood with pleasure. The fly will shrug off a hit, swat, and slam. As my co-worker, David informed me: ” you can’t be too nice to them; try to brush them off, and they just get mad.” He then showed me the certified effective manner of disposing of one as it lands on you. You grab it, roll it between your fingers, crush it and drop it, leaving the corpse as an example to its siblings. You may be queasy about the crushing part, but I assure you that these large horse flies are hard to kill, and after you have several nasty and painful divots cut into arms and legs, the desire to be benevolently human to your fellow-creature fades.
I had wondered for a while why a boatyard would stock an entire case of spray-on oven cleaner – name brand at that. David informed me that it was ” the best way of loosening up old crudded on varnish.” Applied liberally, then left for several hours and then rinsed off, it does make old varnish easier to scrape off. But there is a second use for it. It’s an effective means of terminating the odd yellow jacket colony hidden beneath the seat of a boat you need to clean up. Not much hurts, like getting stung a dozen times by yellow jackets out for a junket and feeling mean. Spray that nest down with oven cleaner, run like hell and watch the fun. Reapply as needed.
There’s a lot to be said about getting along with other creatures. But greenheads and yellow jackets are the psychopaths of the insect world. Go figure!