Protect us from ‘zombie-apocalypse of flies’

Kudos to The Garden Island. As a very long-time resident and fan of Kauai, mahalo for the great coverage you give us all year. My wife and I have not always lived here and much bigger communities have papers that are not near as balanced. We read with great interest Kyle Brockett’s recent letter to the editor about the Del Mar racing season’s plague of biting flies. Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed 2,000 cow dairy is certain to produce volumes of manure in excess of that produced by 700 horses during the seven week racing season in Del Mar, California.

As an engineer, I am very concerned about the health of our community, our environment and our economy. If not for The Garden Island, many would remain clueless about what might be just around the bend.

I found Kyle was right. According to the University of Hawaii, the biting horsefly, or horn fly, may have arrived in Hawaii with the first import of cattle in 1793. It was first reported from Kaneohe Ranch in 1898.

We live on the South Shore and from everything I’ve read, the biting flies that will breed in our year-round tropical climate will affect islanders for more than four miles from Mahaulepu. An industrial entomologist from Princeville, Carlos White, sent a letter to The Garden Island, as well as our mayor, alerting us to what Kyle Brockett so aptly described as “the zombie-apocalypse of flies.” What are our government officials doing to protect us from the well-known health hazards and obvious nuisance caused by these biting flies?

Biting flies are considered the vampires of the fly world. The more than 300 species include the black fly, stable fly and deer fly, though the bite of the horsefly is one of the most painful. Horseflies are equipped with scissor-like mandibles that tear and cut. The females feed on blood to assist in egg development. In addition to the serious diseases carried by biting flies — such as anthrax, typhoid fever, tuberculosis (to name a few) — our children will be exposed to conjunctivitis and impetigo. My wife and I know this personally from our experience living in Australia.

Flies are among the most prolific of all creatures. Entomologists at Ohio State University in Columbus say a pair of houseflies can produce five to six hatches, each with 100-plus eggs. They project that if that pair began producing eggs in April, and all flies survived, theoretically they could produce 191,010,000,000,000,000,000 (191 quintillion, 10 quadrillion) offspring by August.

Please share this. Hopefully, our responsible government officials are putting the public’s health above profit considerations. The 2,000 cow dairy plan (albeit to start with 699 pregnant cows) deserves very serious scrutiny and should not be permitted so close to residences and a high job and income-producing resort community.

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Richard Russell is a resident of Koloa.

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