Beachgoers beware: Biting flies hit Ottawa County beaches

Biting flies annoy beachgoers

OTTAWA COUNTY, MICH. - It's supposed to be a perfect weekend to head to the beach, but you may be accompanied by some unwanted guests. Ottawa County Park officials confirm, biting flies have reportedly hit a few Ottawa County beaches.

Visitors at North Beach Park along Lake Michigan were greeted with a 'black fly warning' on Friday. A worker at the park booth says a number of people asked for refunds earlier in the day due to the increase of black flies.

The insects are known to sting people around the ankles.

"It's worse than a mosquito," beachgoer, Barry Watson, said. 

Park officials tell WZZM 13 they first noticed the flies on Thursday. Park Supervisors say the increase in insects is due to the winds. 

"They bite and they're annoying and I don't like them," beachgoer, Cynthia Caulfield, added. 

Signs warning about the biting flies were put up at North Beach Park in Ferrysburg and Kirk Park in West Olive on Friday. Park officials say because of the wind the flies may be an issue on Saturday as well. 

"Its been pretty over the top today," Kirk Park beachgoer, Mike Ward, said. "I smashed one and blood just squirted everywhere, it was pretty epic." 

While the signs claim these are black flies. Michigan State University Entomologist Howard Russell begs to differ, he believes they're stable flies. "They're strong fliers, the wind helps, they blow in from areas where they breed," Russell told WZZM 13 over the phone. 

Russell says like black flies, stables flies bite, and bite a lot, "They're very aggressive biters and it's a hot bite.They like to bite low. Once you lay down you're right in there power zone. The repellents really don't provide a lot of protection." 

Russell says the best way to avoid getting bitten is wearing pants to cover your legs and ankles.

Ottawa County Park officials are offering a full refund within 15 minutes of entering the park if you can't handle the flies. 

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