DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) — If you’ve been complaining that there seem to be more gnats, also known as black flies this year, you’d be right.
Entomologist for Iowa State University’s Extension Office, Laura Iles, says reports have shown a slight increase in gnat population in Eastern Iowa. This time of year swarms of gnats are common, but luckily they have short life spans. Iles says they should dwindle soon.
“The adults live about three weeks so hopefully within the next couple of weeks we should see populations dropping quickly.”
If you’ve noticed gnats swarm around you more after a run outside, you’re not alone. Iles says gnats are attracted to certain odors and chemicals our bodies give off when we workout.
“Black flies are really frustrating, so they’re attracted to the carbon dioxide that we breathe out and also the odors of our sweat.”
What makes these winged insects even more annoying is that bug repellents like deet and other mosquito sprays do not typically work on them. Some experts suggest trying bug soothers or vanilla scented essential oils, but Iles says there is another simple way to ward off gnats.
“One thing that does help is wearing lighter colored clothing. They particularly like dark blue so steer clear of dark blue clothing right now.”
Experts say while gnat bites do not pose a health risk to humans like ticks and mosquitos do, they can harm or even kill livestock. Chickens are at a particularly higher risk.