What's with all the GNATS?

annld(6B PA)May 14, 2005

Where did all these gnats come from? They're driving me crazy! I've tried deet to keep them off, but they don't seem to be affected. Any advice?

Ann (Philly)

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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Yeah... I know what you mean! They started last month when we had that mini heatwave. I think it was because of the mild spells during winter and all the moisture that came at one time the beginning and end of April, with a mild sunfilled middle of the month. Lots of bugs hatched. Don't know what to tell you...

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 10:16AM
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You can have all the ones here in NJ too. Horses not happy with them at all. Any one know how to be rid of them?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 6:22PM
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Not only are they numerous...but very agressive in my opinion. Darn things attacked me the other day like a swarm of bees! Hate to use chemicals...but may have to nuke them with something.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 10:12AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I hope they are not coming up my way, I've only run into a few mosquitos so far this year.... but then things here are unsually a week or two behind.

Are they biting? They're not blackflies are they? -not that I would know a balackfly if I saw one-

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 11:32AM
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earline_pa zone 6 Pa.

Checked my mantid nest today and guess what??!!! ;)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 12:13PM
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What other pests will the mantids save us from?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 2:08PM
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theizzard(6 PA)

Oh my God, they are everywhere and they circle around your head like a vulture on dead meat. Yuch. hope they go away soon.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 4:02PM
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earline_pa zone 6 Pa.

The praying mantis will devour any insect it gets its claws on. I had a butterfly bush in front of my kitchen window and used to watch them catch all kinds of bugs,and I thought it was really neat until I saw a butterfly being eaten by one.
Tha really bothered me until I saw my mantis being eaten by a starling :( in nature eveything is food for something.
BTW happy belated BD;)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 9:50PM
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katybird_PA(z6 PA)

Wear a hat with a low wide brim. They are less inclined to get up under a brim. Helps some anyway.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 10:41AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

We've suddenly got gnats at our place, too. They haven't been bothering me much, but the horse hates them. She was using one of the new peach trees as a belly-scratcher the other morning, trying to chase off the gnats. The tree survived, but she's not allowed to graze in the orchard anymore!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 3:02PM
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hardrockkid(z6 (PA))

I had heard something earlier in the year about reduced (or was it eliminated?) spraying by DER due to budget cutbacks. I wonder if this is showing up already with what you're describing.

I'll see if I can find any info on what I sorta remember hearing.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 8:41AM
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homequaker1(z6 PA)

We have never (in our 8 years here) had so many gnats! They are driving me crazy.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 2:15PM
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hardrockkid(z6 (PA))

Well I guess the pols decided to spray for black flies afterall (see link if interested) (there's also a paragraph discussion of the buggers themselves) (the gnats, not the politicians!)

ANYWAY -- spraying/control program apparently isn't the problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Black Fly Spray Funding Restored

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 9:36PM
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naturenut_pa(z6 PA)

wear a baseball cap. gnats are seeking moisture, ie, your eyes, nose, etc. as funny as it sounds, when they are really bad, i wear a baseball cap and keep my head tilted down whenever possible. it seems to throw them off somehow.
i am surprised that bug spray didn't work. when i am going to be outside for extended periods, and sweat won't be pouring in my face, i cover myself with OFF! Deep Woods. this always keeps me gnat, tick and mosquito free. just make sure to shower as soon as possible, you don't want those chemicals on your skin for too long. i also use the lotion that goes on purple and then becomes clear, i put it on my nose, around my eyes, all over my head and ears, and the gnats stay away.

one other thing i'd like to add...i LOVE to work outside on windy days. i guess they aren't strong enough to compete with the wind, and the entire time outside is gnat-free without the bug spray.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 10:59PM
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There are plenty here in Juniata County and drive me and poor guard dog insane.

I have only found one thing that works. The small punk sticks. Light one and stick it in your hat brim or in a scarf tied around your head. But be careful, I have a hole in a hat to show for carelessness. So make sure the area on the punk sticks that burns is above any clothing. Amish sometime tuck one behing their ear. A fisherman tells me his pipe works, but I'm not going there.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 2:14PM
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annld(6B PA)

I give up -- what's a punk stick?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 4:24PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Oooooooooooo! A Punk! Do they even sell those anymore? Gosh that brings back some memories! :-D

Ann - they were long thin sticks covered in a dried wood pulp material (looked almost like long incense sticks) that could be lit and were used like how citronella candles are used today - as an insect repellant. I think the standard joke is whether they really worked or not but when one is a kid, who cared? LOL

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 6:22PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

We used to use dried cattail flower stalks. You would light the one end and the seed head would smolder down it's length like a punk. Since we didn't have any cattails nearby it would always be a goal to find a few when we were vacationing!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 10:28PM
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The only place I can find them is The Vermont Country Store.

Go to www.vermontcountrystore.com

They are $13.95 for 600 and worth every penny. They are made of dried animal dung, but there is no odor. Each stick lasts about an hour. I used them this afternoon as the rain has brought hordes of gnats to my garden. But like I said, don't burn your hat.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 9:57PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Wow. Thanks for the link! Have to let my sisters know about this too. :-D

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 6:41AM
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Without knowing your exact locations or seeing the "gnats" you're talking about, your problem is hard to determine for sure. Black flies are the little gnats that tend to swarm around your head, bounce off your forehead, crawl in your eyes, ears, nose, and (for some people) bite very hard to feed on your blood. Some folks don't get bitten at all. Some folks have bad reactions to the bite, and others just find them annoying.

Pennsylvania DEP operates the largest black fly suppression program in North America. However, even with such a large program, not all areas are covered. Each individual county must resuest to participate in the program. There are, I believe, about 33 counties (out of 67) participating right now. In southeastern PA, I know that Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, and Philadelphia DO NOT participate in the program. Berks, Bucks, Northampton, and Schuylkill do.

Black fly larvae grow in rivers and streams that are fast moving, well oxygenated, and generally clean. The biggest single producer of black flies in PA is the Susquehanna River. Many other large rivers also support black flies in PA. Black flies are often cited as having up to a 30 mile flight range from where they emerge (hence the state run river/stream sprying program). The state calls it a suppression program because there is no feasible way to control or eradicate all the pest black flies (buffalo gnats, gnats, whatever you want to call them); about all they can do is keep the numbers low and hope that keeps most people (residents and tourists) happy.

I would suggest contacting your county (try contacting the county office that handles mosquito control) or your regional DEP office if you continue to have problems. Just remember, if your county doesn't participate in the program, the state won't be doing control work there.

Program fact sheet:
www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/ watermgt/WSM/Facts/FS1838.PDF
Note that the DEP office listing on this sheet is out of date. Check DEP's website for current addresses/phone numbers.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 12:56PM
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List of counties where treatments occur and the waterbodies that are treated (this list changes yearly):


    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 1:12PM
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A magical solution to gnats in your face, up your nose, down your throat? Vanilla! Not vanillin, the "artificial" flavor derived from oak, but natural vanilla. I pour a few tablespoons of it into a spray bottle with some water (maybe dilute it to a 15:1 solution?) and spray it on your face and head. It will be as if the gnats don't even know you're there.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 3:42PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

I posted a message earlier about "Gnats Biting Me." The thing is, not everybody has the gnats in their gardens. That's what I find strange. Why some gardens and not others?

I know lots of gardeners and they don't have the gnat problem.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 4:57PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

Addendum: I posted the earlier message on the Pests and Disease Forum, not this one.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 4:59PM
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We have had gnat problems for the last three years. I called DEP and they sent someone out. It was so bad the kids didnt want to go outside to play because we were attacked by the gnats, and yes they do bite. There is nothing on the market that works. They are attracted to the carbon monoxide in your breathe. Even the guy from DEP stated nothings works and didnt do much just agreed we had a lot of gnats,
They cut funding for spraying three years ago. If you live by a river or a stream you will see a lot, thats where they lay their eggs in water. They are attracted to decomposing matter, like our compost bins.
Try putting a bandana over your face, wearing a hat with a big brim.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 10:21PM
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