The pests are out in droves for the early summer. With the wet weather of the late spring and warmer temperatures, buffalo gnats or black flies are out wreaking havoc. With the clean, fast-running water and people about, buffalo gnats breeding is high, especially this year.
Illinois State Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says that the gnats are attracted to the air we breathe, perfumes, deodorant, or sweet smells. They also aren’t easy to fend off. “We’re not getting good control with insect repellent so now we have to switch to barrier protection like long sleeved items and hats. If you have access to a large fan that can be blowing the air, that will help deter the gnats. They typically don’t carry disease in Illinois but they are considered a nuisance. They are attracted to the air we breathe out; the perfumes, deodorants, and fragrances that we wear. The gnats can really mess up a barbecue, picnic, or an outdoor activity.”
Like horse and deer ticks, female buffalo gnats use blood from bites for breeding purposes. The bites can produce bleeding, itching, inflammation, swelling, as well as allergic reactions for some people that can be life threatening. Some domestic animals can be killed by buffalo gnat attacks.
Most home remedies like vanilla have been proven scientifically effective. DEET-repellents also sometimes cause more harm than good. Pesticides and fogging for black flies have also been met with minimal success.
The one bit of good news for local residents is that most mosquitoes accompanying the black flies that are out now are flood mosquitoes. They don’t normally carry West Nile Virus. West Nile has also not been reported in Morgan County yet. Long sleeved clothing, big fans, or staying indoors may be the only successful option for people to stay away from the bugs this summer.