North Yuba Naturalist: Gnats!!

By Katie O’Hara Kelly

It’s time for my annual article on gnats, those pesky bugs
that are trying to land in our eyes, nose, and mouth when we’re
outside. These insects are Eye Gnats (Liohippelates pusio).
They are very small, true flies, and are non-biting. It is only
the females that are plaguing us! They need the proteins found
in human and animal secretions to produce their eggs. They
do not pierce the skin of the host to obtain this material, but
rather scrape up a pool of mucous with their hind legs and
suck it up with their spongy mouth parts! Male Eye Gnats are
rare, and do not feed on secretions. Females will lay their eggs
in loose soil. It can take 11-30 days for the larvae to become
adults. Larvae feed on plant material, not secretions. Multiple

Eye Gnat

generations can occur each year. These adult gnats can be
active anytime the temperature is over 70 degrees, with the
most activity occurring when temperatures reach into the 90’s.
Unfortunately that is happening right now! Our only hope is
rain and cold temperatures, which will get rid of these gnats.
However, our forecast is for HOT temperatures and no rain, so
the gnats are here to stay for awhile!

The internet is full of information on how to make homemade
gnat repellant, using everything from vinegar to vanilla. You’re
going to have to make your own decision on those. The three
remedies I use are: get up early and go walking in the cool of
the morning, or use a mosquito net over your hat (covering the
head and shoulders), and put screens on your windows! In the
meantime pray for RAIN!

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