buffalo gnat

Buffalo gnat

Working remotely comes with its own challenges, but one thing that is constant again this year is those pesky gnats hovering around my head as I work in own home landscape. These gnats have many common names and cover several species.

These pests are called turkey gnats, buffalo gnats and no-see-ums, just to name a few. These gnats have sure become a nuisance to people and livestock across the parish.

These gnats are members of the black fly family and a problem mostly during late winter to early spring. The one bright side to the warming trend we are hopeful to see in the coming weeks, is that these pests will no longer be a problem.

Once the temperatures stay consistently around 80 degrees, their numbers will diminish. With the cooler temperatures in the evenings, it has extended their stay and increased their numbers.

According to Sebe Brown, an LSU AgCenter entomologist at the Dean Lee Research Station in Alexandria, the adult gnats are like mosquitoes and feed on blood. Therefore, we see them swarming around people, livestock, and pets.

“Black flies will secrete an anticoagulant that can cause an allergic reaction and prolonged itching in sensitive individuals,” Brown said. “In livestock they can cause toxemia, anaphylactic shock, and in extreme cases, have caused suffocation.”

Female gnats can lay between 100 and 600 eggs. The adult populations exist for about one month in the spring, and the eggs laid by the females will develop the following spring.

Unlike mosquitoes, there are few effective options for controlling gnats around people. Some people have seen success from using unconventional products, such as Avon Skin-So-Soft or Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance. Some are even using naturally derived ingredients such as citrus or vanilla, which may contain some repellent properties. However, there is no scientific research to support these unconventional products from controlling these insects around people or homes.

For livestock, repellant products containing permethrin or ivermectin ear tags, smoldering fires that produce dense smoke and providing shelters with fans and minimal light may offer relief.

Generally black flies will not enter enclosures or barns and are only active during the day, according to Brown. So, keep livestock inside during the day and turn them out at night when the gnats are less active. Brown said permethrin or any pyrethroids-class products should not be used on cats. As a reminder, when using products of this kind, follow all labeled rates, which may differ between species of livestock animal.

With warmer weather, we will see relief from these bothersome pests. But with warmer weather we know the next pest we will have to defend ourselves against in the great outdoors is the mosquito.

At least with mosquitoes, we have more effective options for control.

If you have questions or concerns about gnats or any other related topic, contact Mark Carriere, associate county agent, by calling the Pointe Coupee Extension Office at (225) 638-5533 or via email at mcarriere@agcenter.lsu.edu. More information on this and other topics can be found on the web at www.lsuagcenter.com