Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Looking for Deer Flies

This is what the local Deer Flies look like.  It is the size of a common house fly and notable for the marked wings and the colorfully marked body.  Image from HERE
They spit an anticoagulant into the bite to keep it from clotting as they lap up the blood.  Some people have an adverse, allergic reaction to the proteins in the fly spit.  Because the bite breaks the skin, it opens a path for impetigo, MRSA and other infections.
All of the experts on the internet "know" that blue attracts Deer Flies.  Image from HERE
They post pictures like this "proving" their expertise.
There are even some commercially available products but they cannot possibly work because they are not blue.
Whenever you hear "Everybody says..." the listener should keep in mind that the level of data supporting the idea is anecdotal and anecdotal data is the weakest form of evidence.  "In God we trust, everybody else must bring data."

I want to test the idea that blue is the color that is most attractive to deer flies.  To do that, I need places with many, many deer flies.  The locations must be close to Eaton Rapids as I don't have much budget to do this experiment.
This cup will be coated with a product called Tanglefoot for the experiments.  In real life, it would more likely be upholstered with felt (fabric) that was dowsed with soy sauce (protein + salt = target to the fly) and a quick-acting, contact  insecticide.

The design of experiment is to craft a hat that will carry two "Red Solo Cups", except thetwo cups will be different colors.  It will be a two horse race.  For convenience, I plan to have one cup always be a Red cup to make it easier for various locations to replicate the test if they wish.  Red Solo Cup will be the baseline.

This experimental strategy will also allow me to investigate whether it is color or contrast that attracts deer flies.

A test pattern drying on the Eaton Rapids, custom built drying rack.

Or perhaps they are genetically programmed to seek shapes that look like ears.

But to make this work, I need some places to enough deer flies to generate statistically valid data.


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