Deer flies a biting problem? Oddly, 'trolling' may be just the ticket

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Aug. 13, 2002) --- The deer flies are so bad at Dick Coski's farm near Lake Erie in northeast Ohio that he used to get covered in bites mowing his small field.

Hunting for a solution, the retired Social Security claims representative found a Web site about a curious deer fly-control device invented by a University of Florida scientist. The bright blue plastic flowerpot, covered with sticky material and suspended upside-down on a pole, was said to entice and capture the pesky bugs.

It looked goofy. But when Coski, 70, rigged up a similar device and stuck it on the front of his John Deere, he was amazed at the result.

"The deer flies didn't even look at me they were all buzzing around that darn flowerpot," Coski said. "My sister-in-law's husband is one of those hard-nosed Englishmen, and he didn't believe me. He came up from Columbus and took a ride on my lawn tractor, and he couldn't get over it."

Insects are strange creatures that sometimes prove vulnerable to even stranger methods of elimination. That seems to be the lesson of the curiously effective deer-fly trap invented by Russell Mizell, a professor of entomology at UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Mizell's article about the trap appeared in the June issue of the journal Florida Entomologist, although it previously was featured on an IFAS pest-control Web site.

Mizell, who is based at UF's North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, said he first launched the research several years ago as a high school science project with his son, but "it got so interesting, I just kept doing it."

He was familiar with reports that African tsetse flies are drawn to silhouettes of hoofed animals. He also had noticed that deer flies often buzzed the rearview mirrors on his truck as he drove along the gravel driveway to his Jefferson County home. Deer flies are so-called ambush predators: They wait for prey to walk by rather than actively searching

Contact: Russell Mizell
University of Florida

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