North Shore

Greenhead flies take over North Shore beaches

The coastal marsh flies – named after their big green eyes – pop up for a few weeks every summer and their bite is strong enough to leave welts

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Those looking to beat the heat on North Shore beaches in Massachusetts have another beast to contend with – the dreaded greenheads.

The coastal marsh flies – named after their big green eyes – pop up for a few weeks every summer and officials with the Trustees say they came to Crane Beach in Ipswich early this year. Only the females bite, but the welts they leave behind are enough to ruin a perfectly good beach day if you’re not prepared.

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“There’s definitely years that have been really, really bad and years that have been relatively light,” Crane Estate property manager Chris Moore said. “This year definitely started earlier and has been pretty consistent.”

Signs are placed at the entrance of Crane Beach in Ipswich to warn people of their presence and remind them of their no-refund policy.

“We were surprised to see the sign. We thought we got ahead of it,” said Michael Cuggino, a Massachusetts native now living in California. “We didn’t think they were coming until later in July but you know you kind of suck it up.”

Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control put out 200 traps in Ipswich this year – more than any other North Shore town. But beachgoers say they’re still buzzing around.

“I think there’s a lot more than there usually is, right? Like I’m not used to seeing this many of them,” Shrewsbury resident Ben Crawford said.

“You’re just constantly swatting your legs and you’re waiting for them to land on you and bite you,” said Jorie Blackwell, a Texas resident originally from Massachusetts. “It’s not very relaxing when there’s a lot of greenheads around.”

Aside from the greenhead traps, the next best defense is bug spray, but just any old insecticide won’t do. The Crane Beach store sells Wicked Soft Greenhead Guard, made by a locally-owned, woman-run business.  

“We bought a natural product that’s made locally which is kind of fun,” Texas resident Christian Blackwell said. “And the beach is beautiful enough that it’s worth it. It’s worth the greenheads so don’t stay away.”

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