Those gnats are back!

I'm not sure if the gnats that were bothering me this weekend were Buffalo Gnats or not, but now is the time of year when we can normally expect them. I started noticing them on Saturday and Sunday, but thankfully the winds were strong enough that they didn't bother me much. But this morning, when the winds were calm, they were really starting to become a nuisance. Hovering around my face and causing some irritation.

We'll have to endure the buffalo gnats for several weeks more. And they can be bothersome to humans, and menacing to poultry. And according to experts, we will deal with them until water temperatures warm (they hatch in water and have specific temperature requirements). Sometimes called black flies, these blood sucking insects can be especially troublesome to poultry, but will also attack pets, other livestock and people.

If you have to spend much time outdoors when they are present, your experience wasn't a good one. They are very annoying and irritating, especially if there is no wind to drive them away. Their bites can cause itching and swelling. Like female mosquitoes, female buffalo gnats must have a meal of blood in order to ensure successful egg laying. And it's very hard concentrating when they fly in your mouth, nostrils and ears!

Poultry and other avian species are especially troubled by them. In the past several have reported deaths of various poultry due to these gnats. Newly hatch birds (both wild and tame) can suffer the same fate. Some were reporting gnat numbers so high that the white colored chickens appeared to be colored black by the overly numerous insects. Others reported poultry crowding together in an attempt to escape the biting, and birds were lost that way as well.

The gnats are daytime feeders and one method of protection is to avoid the outdoors during daylight hours. Of course this just isn't a very workable solution for many. In this case, additional protection may be advisable. Since the gnats can't bite through clothing, long sleeves and pants are suggested. DEET, the active ingredient in many mosquito products hasn't been a very good deterrent. But many people have reported that vanilla scent works very good. Some have also stated that Absorbine Junior has had some success. There are commercial products available, including Buggins, which is an excellent product.

For protection of poultry, permethrin based fly control products are effective. Keeping the birds inside during the day hours may have some potential. However, this has its limits as well, since many poultry flocks feed outdoors during the day. Fans can be used to cause air movement which may help keep the gnats away as well.

The gnats have been emerging from moving water (creeks, streams, etc.) and will continue to do so until water temperatures increase to above 75 degrees. They can fly up to 10 miles looking for a food supply.