Complaints of critters reached city council chambers during Tuesday’s meeting. Vector Control representatives were at the meeting to hear the concerns.
“I have been getting calls about gnats,” Councilwoman Tasha Banks said. “Is that part of something you spray for?”
Vector Control, who is contracted with the city for spraying mosquitoes, said the company has also had calls regarding gnats.
“Some people think they are getting bit by gnats,” the representative said.
Councilwoman Lurann Thomas was also aware of the problem.
“It is so bad you can’t stay out side the gnats will cover you,” Thomas said.
Banks said the gnats are more problematic this year than mosquitoes.
“I believe the gnats are eating the mosquitoes and taking over,” she joked.
Vector representatives said in the past few years, gnats have increasingly become a problem.
“We want to address the issues and will research best solutions,” representatives said.
Residents in Greenville who need their area sprayed can call Vector Control at 662-332-7557.
According to the Mississippi Extension, the gnats have the ability to bite which may cause some individuals to have an allergic reactions ranging from mild, localized swelling and itching to anaphylactic shock in the most extreme cases.
Gnats live and thrive in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees and anything hotter wards them off.
Gnats are more difficult to control than mosquitoes because they are stronger flyers and are more numerous, according to extention agents.
The two most common species in the Southern region, black flies or Buffalo gnats.
Black flies are tiny, blood-sucking flies in the insect family Simuliidae and are often called buffalo gnats or turkey gnats. Contrary to their name, black flies may be gray, tan, or even greenish. They usually breed in fastmoving water of streams and rivers. They are tremendous pests of humans, domestic animals, and wildlife every spring in northern areas of the United States and Canada.
In Mississippi, buffalo gnats are usually not a problem, but outbreaks are reported periodically.
“In the last few years, there have been numerous reports of buffalo gnats attacking chickens in Wilkinson, Amite, Issaquena and Warren counties,” Extension Professor Jerome Goddard PhD wrote for MSU Extension office.
In addition, there has been a particularly bad outbreak recently in communities along the Pearl River in central Mississippi.
“Our main two pest black fly species—the Jenning’s gnat, Simuliim jenningsi, and the turkey gnat, Simuliim meridionale, may be encountered from March to June. Sometimes Simuliim jenningsi has a second peak of activity in the late fall,” Goddard wrote.
According to Goddard’s article, repellents containing DEET have been reported effective for humans (but may need to be reapplied frequently), and wearing light-colored clothing may help keep the gnats away.
“They are definitely attracted to dark-colored clothing,” Goddard wrote. “People being tormented by buffalo gnats should be encouraged by the fact that the adult flies generally only live four to five weeks and should go away in hot summer.”