Are They Bothering You or Biting You?

Jun 6, 2014

They float, swarm, harass and irritate, and they can even take down a chicken or a turkey. The gnats are back. But when we complain about “gnats,” Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says, sometimes we might be misplacing blame. 

"Saying you are annoyed by a gnat is like saying you were passed on the interstate by a vehicle… It’s a two mile wide term. Ask yourself – are the bugs bothering you or are they biting you?”

If you notice you are getting bit, Lewis says you’ve probably made friends with a buffalo gnat, also known as a turkey gnat or a black fly. Of that species of insect, its the females that bite, and this year in Eastern Iowa, Lewis says they are thick.

Today on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talked with Lewis and ISU Extension Horticulturalist Richard Jauron about early summer pests. They also took questions from the audience about pests and plant care.

Looking to repel the gnats? 

Freda Sojka of Columbus Junction discovered the recipe for "Bug Soother" one afternoon when she wanted to keep the bugs away from her grandson but didn't want to spray him with DEET. 

Since 2008, she and her husband have been bottling the concoction with great success. They’ve shut down their website because they can’t keep up with online sales and expect to sell more than a million bottles this year, something Freda laughs about. “My nephew asked my husband if we sold more than 500,000 bottles if he would get a tattoo. Not thinking we would, he agreed…” Sojka says he’ll probably get the “Bug Soother” logo, a gnat.