The end of summer means the end of the season for what is probably the nastiest creature in the southern ecosystem according to Salvation South Editor Chuck Reece. He explains why the pesky yellow fly is so despised in this week's commentary.

Yellow Fly image
Credit: Courtesy of Stacy Reece/Salvation South


Chuck Reece - Salvation South Editor: Summer is officially over. The first day of autumn came last week. I, for one, am quite happy about this because the end of summer means the end of the season for what is probably the nastiest creature in the southern ecosystem. I am speaking of the yellow fly.

Now. If you've never encountered a yellow fly, then good for you. My wish is that you never have to see one. The yellow fly looks a lot like your common housefly with a couple of distinct differences. First, it is big about 150% the size of the little flies you swat in your house. The second difference is the color. It is a bright, shocking, almost neon yellow.

About five years ago, a yellow fly almost ruined a vacation for me. My wife, Stacy, and I had found a rental cottage, a short walk from the beach on Alligator Point, a peninsula, south of Tallahassee. When we arrived, we plopped down in some deck chairs, hoping to enjoy a nice breeze off the Gulf. And only a few minutes had passed before I looked down and for the first time in my life saw a yellow fly. No more than a second passed before it bit my hand. The bite drew blood. It hurt something awful and caused my hand to swell up like a balloon. Only steroids from the nearest urgent care clinic saved my vacation.

Now, this memory came back to me vividly when Alabama writer Jennifer Kornegay sent me a story about yellow flies, hoping to publish it in online magazine I edit Salvation South. She described a yellow fly attack she suffered while hiking in the maritime forest off the Gulf Coast of Alabama. "Ribbons of blood," she wrote, "were running down and pooling in the heel of my flip flop. I screamed. I swatted. I ran as fast as I could. Those little yellow bleeps pursued me all the way to my car. And when I got there and saw others about to head onto the trail, I shrieked the warning, 'Yellow flies.' That's all it took to put an old couple right back in their Cadillac to get to buff college boys, to toss their bikes back into their truck bed, and to make a mom and dad pile kids back into their van and roll the windows up tight before burning rubber out of the parking lot.".

Yellow flies are persistent and they have only one desire, to suck your blood like little vampires. Hate to talk bad about any creature that is native to my beloved South, but there is nothing good to say about yellow flies. The only good news is that we've all got about nine months to wait before there's a chance of seeing them again.

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Salvation South editor Chuck Reece comments on Southern culture and values in a weekly segment that airs Fridays at 7:45 a.m. during Morning Edition and 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on GPB Radio. You can also find them here at