Monday, May 25, 2015

Sticky Ball Update - New Approach(es)

Today's post is from Dennis - the much anticipated Sticky Ball Update!

At the end of roughly 1 month we had collected approximately 16,000 biting flies (yellow flies aka Doctor flies; black flies; and horse flies).  At the end of roughly 2 months, we had collected an additional 11,800 flies for a cumulative total of over 26,600 flies.  You read that correctly - twenty-six thousand six hundred!  At the end of 3 months, I quit counting.  Counting flies and renewing the glue was becoming a full-time occupation; I gave up research when I retired.  The science behind these traps has already been performed and the traps validated, and the studies replicated.  I was not generating new concepts and data by counting flies.  Tallying the captured flies was not hypothesis-driven.  (OK – science bit over – continue reading.)  My real goal was to renew the balls quickly and to try to minimize the biting fly populations by capturing additional flies.  
That's a whole lotta flies!  Time to refresh the sticky ball.
 So I have taken to using a 2 ½ inch wide putty knife and scraping the old less sticky glue off the balls with the attached flies, then reapplying a coat of Tacky Trap, re-inflating the balls if needed, and getting them back up quickly.  
Mostly Doctor Flies, but also some small, annoying flies.  They come right off with the putty knife.
I have had some balls capture over 1500 flies in a month period, and this takes about 2 hours per ball to remove and tally the flies, then re-glue and remount the balls outside.  When you have about 30 glue balls set out, it takes a lot of time to do this! When I scrape the balls, it takes maybe 15 minutes or so per ball, and I can have coffee in between balls if I wish.  I can get the balls back into action quickly, although I will run through Tacky-Trap more quickly.  Quote from Wilma "A sticky ball not hanging outside is a sticky ball not doing its job!"
Half-cleaned ball.  Note the color coordination.  ;-)
I did get some useful information from the tallying activity however.  I have identified 3 geographic “hot-spots” where we collect approximately 3 times as many flies than the average ball.  This finding is going to be used for a different collection approach that hopefully will be less time-consuming.  I re-contacted Dr. James Cilek, who did a great deal of the pioneering work in this area, and said I might try a different type of trap.  There are various types of fly traps you can search for online: Horse Pal; Nzi; Epps; French Box Trap). He provided copies of papers in which a two tier box-trap had been used successfully (for example see J. E. Cilek and M. A. Olson 2008. Effects of Carbon Dioxide, an Octenol/Phenol Mixture, and Their Combination on Tabanidae (Diptera) Collections from French 2-Tier Box Traps.  Journal of Medical Entomology Vol. 45  Issue 4: pages 638-642).  The trap involves a black ball hanging from a plywood box in which the biting flies are attracted to the black ball, travel upwards in the box and are collected ultimately in a two-liter soda bottle at the top.  No glue involved.  So I will be setting these up in the “hotspots” shortly.  We will still be keeping the glue balls, however, to deplete the population locally as much as we can.  Stay tuned for a report later in the season with results from the non-sticky traps.

But for now you may want to watch this Bette Midler performance on Youtube with the DeLago Family Trademark of "Balls" coming in at 3'40", although the whole thing is simple wonderful.  :-)

14 comments:

  1. Ah my favourite Bette Midler era, she was fantastic and I loved watching her.
    Re. the flies, what an amazing count and just think of the amount of potential bites that you have saved yourselves. Here in the UK we rarely have that problem these days, farmers and their intensive spraying of crops sees to that, hence a shortage of some species of birds now.

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    1. The incomparable Bette Midler, doesn't get better than that!
      There is a lot of spraying here; they crop dust the banana and citrus farms. And we use our fair share too, otherwise we would be overrun with ants and roaches. But I don't think pesticide use in Belize is anywhere near as high as it is in highly agricultural areas of the world.

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  2. Thanks for Bette Midler and this great laugh. I actually saw this concert in 1983 in LA. Pardon me for asking, but can Dennis do that with HIS balls?

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    1. Mitchell - you saw the Art or Bust show!!! I am soooo envious! We saw it on PBS and got the video tape. The best Dennis can do with his balls is avoid getting smacked upside the head with one. He views that as a great accomplishment. ;-)

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  3. Oh Crimminy! 26,600 flies caught is not correct. It was 27,600 and change! That was Twenty-seven thousand six hundred. And I have been hit upside the head with a glue ball due to shifting winds and inattention: not a very pleasant experience. Dennis

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    1. What's a few thousand flies between friends? Did you have to use mayonnaise to get the sticky off?

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  4. That's an impressive set of balls there with equally impressive flies on them. I get annoyed when one flies around the house. I hope you have a good spray for indoors should a few thousand creep in!

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    1. We have some good old-fashioned flyswatters that get a good workout should a doctor fly or two make it past our external defenses! And we do have some spray, but we use it more for roaches, ants, or little gnat-types of flies.

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  5. Holy smokes! You counted flies? We truly admire your diligence on staying the course Dennis. We've been battling our own insects here in South Carolina, not fun.

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    1. He really did count the flies. I think he might have a little obsessive streak ...
      Good luck with your battles! Any plans to head back to Belize?

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  6. Hi Wilma,
    Not sure if my first comment made it. I asked if I could use the photo of Dennis holding the full beach ball as an example on our blog. We got our shipment of blue balls and adhesive.
    Cheers,
    Dave (Winjama)

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    1. Your comment made it on the previous post, not this one and this is how I answered you -
      Sure, no objections to you using it at all. Just put in "Wilma at South Englishtown Gazette" with a hot link to that particular post in case anyone wants to look into it further. I look forward to seeing it works for you. Good luck!

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  7. Hello Wilma,
    Very impressive and nice to see.

    Many greetings,
    Marco

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    1. Thank you, Marco. Thanks for visiting.

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