Buffalo Gnats Wreak Havoc: Tips to Survive the Outdoors

bug bites, gnats, itchy, allergies

Buffalo gnats are back, and this spring, they invited their cicada friends to the party. At least the cicadas don’t bite.  Whether you want to complete yard work, watch your favorite shortstop play ball or simply relax on the deck – these biting black flies can 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.

itching, gnats, bug bites, allergies

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

Some people do experience allergic reactions to the bites. If you have a severe reaction, please contact your primary care provider.

Looking for a healthcare provider? Visit Memorial Care to view providers in our 16-county area who are accepting new patients.

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