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Gnat Insect

Summary: The gnat insect nibbles, fits through common screening and slips past netting. Tje gnat insect is a nasty, no-good nuisance that can destroy a golf game, ruin an outdoor wedding and demolish a day in the park.

The gnat insect species is actually made up of various gnats.

Gall gnats are mystifying midges whose cutely colored larvae live in leaves and flowers. They breed in the flower heads of red or white clover and, like certain wine drinkers, they prefer red over white. They cause damage to the host plant which creates a swelling called a gall. Like the larvae, the galls are colorful, too, and have been described as looking like small, red, pointed apples. Sounds lovely! However, these gnats can wipe out a clover field without even trying.

Punkies have an alias. They are known as no-see-ums because these gnats are so incredibly tiny. They are hardly bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. They love rotten vegetation, standing water and the taste of your blood. Female punkies will feed off of human or animal blood leaving welts, itches and scabs. They can, in some cases, cause severe allergies and general malaise making you feel punk, so to speak.

Fungus gnats get their name from their larvae's favorite foods; fungus. The adults feed on flower nectar, but only a sip or two because most of their eating is done prior to adulthood. The larvae feed on plant roots, as well, and can be found in greenhouses and nurseries.

Fungus gnats look more like miniature mosquitoes than gnats and an infestation in your green house will do great damage. They can stunt plant growth, change the color of the foliage and eventually kill the plants.

Although no friend to plants, fungus gnats are wonderful parents. The mother lays her eggs on top of a piece of fungus so when the babies are born they can have an instant meal. Another reason why fungus gnats are such good parents is their babies are born with a face only a mother could love. They look like maggots with eyes. Maggots are bad, but maggots with eyes are really hideous.

Buffalo gnats are the bullies on the block. They're so bad at times ranchers have to put their livestock in the barns to keep them from being tormented, tortured and infected with diseases. Animals bitten by these gnats have been known to die, leaving dead livestock where live livestock once grazed.

Buffalo gnats, so named because of the hump on their backs, are scarier than Quasimodo, another humpback of note. The female will take her teeny-tiny teeth and make a tear in an animal's skin so that the blood will flow. (Sort of like turning on the water tap.) She'll slake her thirst leaving the host with the potential of disease or death. These gnats live near streams or rivers because they lay their eggs in water. Shark gnats would have been a better name for these sharp-toothed predators.

Gnats can make you nuts. If they are left on their own they will continue to breed and multiply, spreading disease and disaster in their wake. If you have a plethora of spiders, frogs, toads, or bats on hand, you have half a chance at staving off an infestation. If not, seek professional help from a licensed exterminator who is an expert in gnat control. You can gnash your teeth, or gnaw on your knuckle, but gnats won't go away without help.

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