What are those bugs you keep swatting? Biting buffalo gnats

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Little black gnats are causing quite the buzz in the Quad Cities.

They’re annoying, but to make it worse they also bite. 

“They’re called buffalo gnats,” said Quad City Botanical Center head gardener Dave Searl. “It’s a variety of black fly.”

It’s the female that bites. She feeds so she can lay eggs and fast moving water is her favorite spot. 

“The faster the water moves the better the larvae like it,” Searl said.

That makes the Mississippi the perfect location. 

But Searl wants to clear up a misconception: the bug levels this year are normal. 

“It’s the same every year. We all start swatting in late spring every year,” he said. “I don’t think it’s worse from previous years, but more people are aware of them.” 

But what do you do if your bite doesn’t go away?

“If after that first day or second day it’s getting worse than getting better then, yeah, get it checked out,” said Dr. Daniel Arnold, who works at UnityPoint Express Care in Moline.

The gnats don’t carry any diseases, but they could cause an allergic reaction. So if you feel dizzy or have shortness of breath, go to the emergency room.

Otherwise, you can treat it at home with anti-itch creams and cold compresses.

And to prevent, don’t reach for your normal bug spray. 

“The over the counter products that use some of the essential oils. That’s what I use they seem to work,” Arnold said.

Searl said the gnats will be around for a couple weeks. After that it’s mosquito season. Those bugs are drawn to standing water. So with flood water still around, mosquitos could be worse than usual.
 

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