Where do gnats come from and how do you get rid of them?




The gnat
The gnat
The gnat

‘Where do gnats come from and how do you get rid of them?’ It’s a question that is discussed by everybody in South Georgia, young and old, but it seems like no one really has a definitive answer.

Gnats are so common in the summertime in South Georgia that most people have come to grudgingly accept that it’s hard to get rid of them: you can swat them away but they will eventually bug you again.

Where do kids think gnats come from? Kids and gnats seem to be the most pestered by gnats and ‘skeeters. While mosquitoes gradually start increasing in number in March or April, depending on how warm it is outside, gnats seemingly just kind of show up all of the sudden in summer.

“I think gnats show up more around trees and grass because that’s where they feed,” said Michael Conder, a participant in the City of Bainbridge’s Jack Wingate Outdoors Camp.

 

Michael Conder, left, and Hayden Martin, two friends attending the City of Bainbridge's Jack Wingate Summer Camp
Michael Conder, left, and Hayden Martin, two friends attending the City of Bainbridge’s Jack Wingate Summer Camp

“I think they hide out in the burrows and bushes in the winter and we just don’t see them as much then,” said Hayden Martin, another Wingate camper who suggested using a product called Swamp Gator to get rid of gnats. “You put it on your arms and legs and face…it stings a little but it’s worth it.”

Sure enough, Swamp Gator was one of the gnat-fighting solutions recommended by Wayne Louviere, an employee at Stone’s Hardware Center in Bainbridge. Swamp Gator, which is actually free of alcohol and DEET, uses Geraniol, soybean oil, rosemary oil and peppermint among its main ingredients. A similar, more expensive product uses citronella oil.

Bottles of Swamp Gator, a gnat/mosquito repellent, and a sunscreen that also contains insect repellent, being sold at Stone's Hardware Store in Bainbridge.
Bottles of Swamp Gator, a gnat/mosquito repellent, and a sunscreen that also contains insect repellent, being sold at Stone’s Hardware Store in Bainbridge, as well as Moore’s Ace Hardware in Colquitt, Ga.

 

Some people I talked to also recommended Thermacell mosquito repellent lanterns, which can also be found at Stone’s Hardware or Moore’s Ace Hardware in Colquitt, Ga.

But where do gnats come from? We still wanted to know. You’ve heard of The Gnat Line-gnats are usually found only south of Macon, and not in Atlanta at all, although the metropolis still has skeeters, just for less time than we do.

Stephen Wells, a Lake Seminole guide whose wife Pam Martin-Wells is a pro angler, said it’s all about geography.

“You tend to find gnats all over the southern United States along a stretch of land that is about as far from the ocean as we are in South Georgia,” Wells said. “I don’t know why God put them on this Earth exactly, because they are bothersome. Actually, out on the water, regular gnats don’t bother you at all. But on lakes that have grassy banks, there are hydrilla gnats that even using repellents on won’t work.”

Pro angler Pam-Martin Wells, who was helping instruct kids on how to fish at the City of Bainbridge's Jack Wingate Summer Camp, helps a young boy learn how to tie a knot in his fishing line to hold a lure in place. Pam's husband, Stephen Wells, not pictured has some theories about where gnats come from.
Pro angler Pam-Martin Wells, who was helping instruct kids on how to fish at the City of Bainbridge’s Jack Wingate Summer Camp, helps a young boy learn how to tie a knot in his fishing line to hold a lure in place. Pam’s husband, Stephen Wells, not pictured has some theories about where gnats come from.

Finding gnats along coastal plain areas (parts of Southeast Georgia used to be covered by the ocean a long time ago) might make sense, some people say they’ve heard that gnats are found in areas where there is sandy soil.

A Google search suggests that gnats feed on funguses (fungi) that are found in damp areas. Removing standing water from around your house can limit the breeding grounds for both gnats and mosquitoes.

Wells currently does the Daily Outdoors Report with Al Kale for Flint Media radio stations, a job that Lake Seminole legend Jack Wingate used to have before his passing. I asked Wells to come up with a “tall-tale” explanation for gnats like Wingate would have.

“I just can’t do it, they’re a mystery,” Wells protested at first. But then he told a true? story.

“When I was younger, I was riding in the truck with my brother in a car that had a windshield but no roof. There were gnats all over the windshield. Well, all of the sudden, this little jumping spider comes out of the dashboard and leaps about 7 or 8 inches away and starts eating those gnats off the windshield.”

It’s the Circle of Life, I said. Or rather, the food chain. Something like that.

 

Here are some other popular insect repellents you can find at Stone’s or Moore’s Ace Hardware:

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2 Comments

  1. Not sure what breed of gnats are elsewhere in the south but just outside of Crestview FL we have what I can only describe as vampire Gnats….
    They are Not attracted to Fruits, soda < beer ,wine candy , Only Human Flesh
    We have tried just about everything short of a nuclear bomb and pretty sure that wont work…
    We can leave fresh fruit out, open wine , beer sodas and not a single freakin gnat is attracted to it….
    But they swarm by the thousands around our face and if you have a small scratch you are pretty much done from going outside….
    I have even tried spraying ORTHO Home Defence directly on me and they still keep landing on me and DO NOT Die
    We use Terminix for mosquito control and they say they have nothing to kill or even detour the little vampires

  2. For the first time in my life, and I been around awhile, I have gnats in the house. I have no idea what to do with them! I have two house cats and they aren’t real fond of the little buzz in’ critters either. Help!!! PS: I live in Central Florida

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