Buffalo Gnats Wreak Havoc: Tips to Survive the Outdoors

Without a doubt, swarming buffalo gnats are this spring’s most hated villain, ruining the nicest day – whether you want to complete yard work, watch your favorite shortstop play ball or simply relax on the deck – these biting black flies make life miserable.

The painful bites result in itching, inflammation, swelling and potential allergic reactions that can cause more serious consequences. Even worse, many bug sprays don’t work, and DEET-containing repellants actually attract the flies. They are small enough to infiltrate most window screens. And, they fly into the nose, ears and mouth causing further discomfort.

The Illinois Department of Public Health provides the following tips to minimize your exposure:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat with netting designed to keep flies off the head and neck.
  • On decks or patios, use fans to keep a strong breeze circulating.
  • If possible, stay indoors just after sunrise and before sunset on calm days when they are most active.

Once bitten, thoroughly wash the skin around the bite or use cold compresses and over-the-counter anti-itch creams. Some people have reduced itchiness by using home remedies including apple-cider vinegar applications and essential oils.

The only good news? They are generally seasonal in nature and disappear by mid-summer.

If you have a severe reactions to the bites, please visit a Memorial ExpressCare location.