Gnat Line Hasn't Moved, Says MGA Professor

Author: WGXA
Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 2:44 PM
Categories: College of Arts and Sciences | In the News | Faculty/Staff

Macon, GA

If you have spent time outside lately, you have likely been swatting annoying gnats. They are just one of the nuisances that come around with all the recent rain. They are so infamous in Georgia, Savannah named its baseball team after them, the Sand Gnats.

"Those are the ones that bite, and that's a whole other level of nuisance," explains Dr. Jeff Burne, a biology professor at Middle Georgia State College. He says in central Georgia we are not bothered by the biting sand gnats, but we do have to swat away the annoying eye gnats. "They might as well call them eye, ear, nose and throat gnats,” says Dr. Burne. “Anything that's got any kind of membranes in it, like your nasal passages or your eyes, and is wet, is going to attract them."

Dr. Burne says the gnat line, or area where these gnats are common has not moved. The gnat line follows the fall line, a 20 mile wide geological line separating northern Georgia’s crystalline rock, or more clay-like soil, from the coastal plain's sedimentary rock, or sandy-like soil. "These flies have part of their development, part of their lifecycle, in the soil, and the soil hasn't changed, so the gnat line hasn't changed," Dr. Burne explains. What has changed is the weather. "And the climate and that has caused other gnats to come in," says Dr. Burne. If your time outdoors is interrupted by you constantly having to swat, there is a better time to get outside and enjoy your favorite activity. Because gnats love moisture, the better time to get outside is when the air is dry, humidity is low and there is a light breeze.

Dr. Burne says if you cannot wait for those types of days, there are some bug sprays containing deet that may be able to help. You can also invest in a gnat hat. "And it's just a little, light screen wire that keeps them off," explains Dr. Burne. Spring is peak time for gnats and you should seem less of them as it gets hotter this summer, but that is also when mosquito season peaks, so one annoying fly gets replaced by another.