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Buffalo Gnats


Summary: Female buffalo gnats are known for biting humans and animals in order to suck their blood. They can cause a lot of damage to livestock or people who are allergic to buffalo gnats.


Insecticide foggers will knock down adult buffalo gnats, but they will return because they have a very short breeding period. The foggers will provide tempory relief, but if that's what you seek you can find the foggers by clicking here.

The buffalo gnat, also known as the black fly or turkey gnat, is a tiny creature that measures no more than 5 mm. Even though it is called the black fly, it may also be gray, brown, or even some shades of orange. It has a humpback, which is how its name originated. The buffalo gnat has clear wings, big eyes, and antennae with eleven segments.

Areas with streams or rivers provide an excellent atmosphere for the buffalo gnat. Because its eggs live in water, the reproduction rate in moist areas is high, including climates with heavy precipitation. The buffalo gnat is commonly found in wooded areas, as well as arctic areas. Canada is a popular buffalo


gnat hangout.

The life cycle of the buffalo gnat is unique. Eggs are laid hundreds at a time and they develop in flowing water. Females often drop their eggs into the water from the air or lay the eggs directly onto aquatic plants. Fortunately, buffalo gnats cannot survive in still water like ponds. When they develop into larvae they find a stable surface on stones or vegetation. They have a small structure similar to a suction cup, attached to their abdomen that allows them to stick to surfaces. For up to two weeks they grow and eat to gain energy. Once strong enough, they fly. The adult buffalo gnat emerge from the water, sometimes through a bubble of air, and are immediately ready to fly. They typically live for another three weeks.

Instances of human and animal suffering from buffalo gnats has been recorded throughout history. Female buffalo gnats have teeth that can cut human skin. They need nectar and blood to survive, so they will bite at humans any chance they can get. (Males only need nectar to survive and cannot bite.) In tropical areas and places with warm, moist climates, buffalo gnats can cause diseases in humans, such as river blindness. They are also known to attack cattle. Consequences of buffalo gnat bites for animals include extreme weight loss, anaphylactic shock, and death. Turkeys and other types of poultry may have parasites or diseases after being bitten by buffalo gnats. Like mosquitoes, buffalo gnats can be carriers of encephalitis. Oddly, the cleaner the water in rivers and streams is, the higher the population of buffalo gnats tends to be.

Some states will spray insecticide over the ground to decrease the number of buffalo gnats. This treatment has proven to help eliminate the pests. If you experience a buffalo gnat infestation, do not try to treat with insecticide. Report the infestation to state health officials who are trained in eliminated

River Blindness

buffalo gnats.

Buffalo gnats are daytime bitters. Once the sun comes up, look out. Typically, they won't go indoors because of the lack of sunshine. So, either stay inside or consider the following tips to avoid buffalo gnats.

  • Wear bug spray when doing water activities, such as canoeing or fishing. Reapply every two hours.
  • Wear hats with mesh nets that can extend over your face when you are near water.
  • You may want to postpone outdoor activities near bodies of water until after the buffalo gnat season ends.
  • If you have a steadily moving stream in your yard, try to get rid of as much vegetation from it as possible.
  • Some people have found that there are less buffalo gnats at higher altitudes. So if you plan on camping, mountainous areas may be a safe place to do so.
  • Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves to cover up as much skin as possible.
  • Wait until sunset to go near flowing water because the temperature will be cooler, making it less likely for buffalo gnats to be flying about.

How to Handle Bites from Buffalo Gnats:

  • Apply corticosteroids or soothing lotions to the bite location.
  • Take an antihistamine if itching or swelling develops.
  • If allergic reactions become severe, consult a doctor or other health professional immediately.

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