Living life below the 'Gnat Line'

Living life below the 'Gnat Line'
The explosion of these annoying little bugs can be traced back to the weather we had this past winter. (Source: WALB)
The explosion of these annoying little bugs can be traced back to the weather we had this past winter. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - If you've spent any time outside this year, you know that the gnats have been unbearable. The explosion of these annoying little bugs can be traced back to the weather we had this past winter.

"I try to stay inside as much as I can," said Carolyn Green.

"Some place where we got a fan blowing, where we can keep the air moving. We try to keep the opening in the wall, keep the wind blowing through. When it gets stagnant, they really cover you up," said Robin Billings.

"I mostly do bug spray or a fan," said Katrina Martin.

"I have to use the mouth trick," said Tab Jones.

Whether you blow them off your mouth, use the South Georgia Wave, fan yourself or use bug spray, the tiny critters keep coming back.

"Anything you put on your skin comes off when you perspire. They're always going to be there," said Billings.

And this year there seems to be a lot more.

"Lots of gnats, more than normal, lots of Mosquitoes," said Green.

"Mild Winters bring out more mosquitoes earlier," said Brain Hopkins with Quick Pest Control.

Mosquitoes can be controlled pretty well with spraying which has very little effect on your family, pets or the environment. Gnats cannot be controlled in the same way.

"Very difficult to control, especially the adult gnat," said Hopkins.

Going after the Gnat before they start to fly brings up environmental concerns.

"When you're dealing with chemicals and broadcasting chemicals the EPA has regulations that you can't treat for the gnats. You would have to soak everything down. There's no chemical labels that says we can soak from the top of the trees, the side of your house, all over the entire place." said Hopkins.

So why are the gnats so bad this year?

"The organic matter, everything here in South Georgia, sandy soil. All of it contributes. Especially the mild winter. it wasn't cold enough to knock down the adult population," said Hopkins.

December is really what go us going, it stayed wet in January then turned dry in March and end in drought conditions and we started with drought conditions in November.

The combination of warm and wet weather made it ideal for a gnat population explosion.

"The Gnat Larvae burrow down into the soil. So when the farmers go across and till up the soil it agitates the gnats. And plus the high reproductive cycle. A female gnat can lay up to 200-400 eggs," said Hopkins.

But why do they insist on annoying us?

"Gnat love it because they use that subcutaneous liquid in your skin to help produce eggs," said Hopkins.

So your sweat, tears and snot help make gnat babies. The need to procreate is strong and keeps them annoying you.

"For me, you just got to tough it out," said Billings.

This website has helpful tips to keep gnats out of your yard. Keep it free of mold and rotting plants. Always keep the lid on trash cans, and leave them a distance from your home.

If you don't want to tough it out, many over the counter products work for short periods, especially ones that contain DEET.

Citronella, vanilla, pine oil, and dryer sheets are all also used in repelling gnats.

Gnats cannot fly in wind over 6 mph and may explain why you rarely deal with South Georgia Gnats at the Beach. The most extensive study ever done on Gnats occurred in the late 1970s by an entomologist at Robins Air Force Base.

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