Scientists have identified the shore fly (Scatella tenuicosta) as the flying insect that has been infesting Marco Island, Florida, beaches over the last few weeks.
The flies were originally suspected to be black flies (Simulium spp.), but Chadd Chustz, Marco Island’s environmental specialist, confirmed the pests were shore flies by sending photos of the insects to entomologists throughout Florida’s Collier County, the Collier County Mosquito Control District and to the University of Florida. He also sent a sample of them to the Insect Identification Lab at the University of Florida.
“We recently moved to the island for the winter and are shocked at the millions of gnats that are effecting the shoreline,” Robert Gondolfo wrote in an email to the Marco Eagle. “When I do a search online, there is no information on what is occurring or how long it could last. Everyone seems baffled.”
Shore flies are commonly known as greenhouse pests, but they also may live on beaches since they feed on algae.
Pest management professionals (PMPs) on the east side of the state also have reported shore fly infestations in beachfront areas, Chustz told Naples Daily News, including Miami Beach, South Beach, North Beach, Surfside, Bal Harbor, Sunny Isles and Hallandale.
A University of Florida entomologist says controlling the outdoor outbreaks may be difficult, and suggests trying to find breeding sites and reduce algae on beaches.