Monday, June 6, 2011

Buffalo gnats

At the time when the weeds are growing like....well....weeds, the buffalo gnats arrive to keep gardeners away from the garden.  Almost like a conspiracy. 

Spring in Illinois brings swarms of biting gnats called buffalo gnats, named for their humpbacked appearance.  I prefer not to let them sit long enough to check out their shape.  The eggs of the buffalo gnat are laid in running water, and our proximity to a large lake and two rivers probably only helps to increase their numbers here.  We have had a breezy spring which seems to help keep them away somewhat, but just being outdoors becomes a challenge.  I was kayaking over the weekend with the wind against me for the first leg of my float and had no gnats.  What an enjoyable experience!  The paddle back was another story all together.  It was very hot and the gnats started sticking to me and getting behind my sunglasses.  I couldn't wait to get off the water!  From what I have read, they tend to like the cooler temps and their numbers drop when the temps hit 75-80.  With temps in the 90's this week, I am hoping we are close to the end of their life cycle.

Many people have allergic reactions to the bites (only the females bite) which from what I hear are painful and become very swollen.  Thankfully, I am not allergic to the bites, but my husband is, and it is amazing what swelling one little gnat can cause.

There are many home remedies that people recommend to deter the gnats.  The most common and recommended is vanilla sprays.  Some people swear by real vanilla mixed with water, vanilla body sprays, or Buggins brand spray.  My daughter's vanilla body spray seems to work pretty well for us for now.

Anyone else have buffalo gnats in your area?  What do you use to combat them?

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