Summer starts with heavy gnat season

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — They’re buzzing all around you, and biting you so you’re scratching for days. No, we’re not talking about mosquitoes. Gnats are out in force, and some of you have even messaged us about them. The spring rain and floods are boosting their numbers this summer. Depending on how you react to them, their bites can leave large welts or even be painful. 

The bike trails in Sioux Falls can seem a bit daunting. 

“It’s got enough miles on it,” Matt O’Connor said. 

Just under 20, in fact. 

“I can’t even get to the end of it,” O’Connor said. 

There may be some incentive to keep moving.

“The bugs are out. The gnats especially,” O’Connor said. 

The gnats are swarming people and animals. Health Program Coordinator Denise Patton says there are more of them than normal. 

Brady Mallory: “I felt a few bugs buzzing around me. I noticed they’re not bothering you. Do they just know not to mess with you?”
Patton: They do. I’ve got a reputation in this town.”

That reputation is for keeping mosquitoes under control, but — “gnat-turally” — Patton is also watching this tiny pests that can leave big painful marks. 

“I hear way more people tell way more dramatic stories about gnat bites than they ever do mosquito bites. I don’t know what it is about them. They’re heavier biters and I’ve seen people get swollen up. It looks like there’s a golf ball under their skin,” Patton said.

Patton says gnats have more places to breed, thanks to all of our extra flowing water and deep standing water. The good news is gnats rarely carry disease, and Patton says most bug lawn treatments and bug sprays with Deet will help protect you. 

“Maybe look at the label if you’re unsure,” Patton said. 

If all else fails, and you feel like you’ve done everything you can — O’Connor says it helps to go that extra mile and take matters into your own hands — literally. 

“You got to keep swatting. You keep moving,” O’Connor said.

There’s sort of a silver lining. As the water dries up, we’ll have fewer gnats. However, the shallow water means we’ll start seeing more mosquitoes. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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