Gnats are tiny flying insects. They are mainly found around rivers and streams. Their preference for places with rivers and streams is because watery places are perfect breeding grounds. The insects typically feed on plants, though it’s not strange to find some with carnivorous tendencies. Although they are not dangerous to humans, it’s worth mentioning that gnat bites can be quite worrying. Therefore, why should you be interested in gnat bites?
Biting species vs. non-biting species
The two species of gnats whose ability to bite should worry you are:
- Buffalo gnats
- Sand gnats
Buffalo gnats have a humpbacked appearance and measure 2mm-5mm in length. Eye gnats have hairy wings and measure between 1.5mm-5mm in length. Fungus and eye gnats are the two non-biting species. Fungus gnats mostly feel attracted to light. Eye gnats, just as the name suggests, mostly feel attracted to the eyes. Fungus gnats are about 2mm-5mm in length. Eye gnats measure 1.5mm-3.5mm in length.
Although gnats are capable of biting, they don’t sting like wasps or bees. Therefore, anybody who says he was stung by gnats is probably telling a lie or is unsure of what he’s saying. The males are unlikely to bite mainly because they are interested in what they can get from flower juices and nectar, which they feed on generously. Females need the blood if they are to continue reproducing effectively. They can only create eggs if they have enough protein in their system.
With a good amount of warm blood in their system, female gnats can go on to lay between 150-400 eggs after a few days. An adult gnat is capable of traveling several miles until it gets an animal to bite for some warm blood. The gnats are not afraid to leave the relative comfort of aquatic breeding sites to find blood. Carbon dioxide is attractive to the females, who rely on this and black moving objects to find their prey.
Types of diseases caused by gnat bites
Gnats are capable of transmitting diseases. The most common method they use to do this is through biting right through the skin. Nevertheless, you should never take a gnat bite lightly. It’s better you visit your doctor for a bit of diagnosis only to be told that there’s nothing worth worrying about than to assume that all’s well only to learn that it isn’t. The common types of diseases that gnats are capable of transmitting by biting include:
- River blindness
- Carrison’s disease
Some of the diseases mentioned above can make your life hellish. For example, river blindness is capable of making you go blind once infected. Leishmania is capable of filling your body with cutaneous sores. Oraya comes with symptoms that include fever. Toscanca is a viral disease that could prove difficult to treat if you don’t seek proper medical attention fast. Therefore, gnat bites can drive increase medical expenses as you spend more money on treatment for the diseases.
Common symptoms of gnat bites
After establishing that gnats can bite and cause diseases, the next lesson you must learn is to identify the bites based on the symptoms the insects leave behind. A gnat bite is special and different from what other insects are renowned for. Gnat bites have specific symptoms that a doctor looks for, which you can also learn to use in determining whether medical treatment is necessary or not.
Knowing why gnats bite is not enough. You should also know how to identify the bite. A bite from any female gnat is quite painful. The bite could make the skin itchy. In some cases, the bitten area could swell after a few days. It’s worth spending time to learn to the differences between gnat bites and the bites from other insects. Apart from the itchiness and swelling, what else should cause you to worry about gnat bites?
The symptoms are:
- Pain around the bitten area
- Itchiness, redness and swelling around the bitten area
- Burning sensation
- Skin irritation
- Tiny drops of blood
- Fevers might develop some hours after the bite
- Difficulty in breathing (though this affects less than 2% of the victims)
- Hives break out (which only affects around 2% of the bitten individuals)
Effective ways of treating gnat bites:
Next, it’s great news that gnat bites are treatable. You’re not helpless but can do something to make your situation better by looking after the bitten area well. What you do could determine whether the bite gives rise to a disease or not. Find ways of attending to or treating the bitten part of your body instead of waiting until you get to your doctor for medical treatment. You can do any of the following to treat the affected part of your body:
- Disinfecting the area
Disinfecting the affected part of the body is the most important measure you can do immediately you notice the gnat bite. You need soap and water to clean the area thoroughly fast. On the other hand, find some good disinfectant and use it to clean the area after washing with the soap and water. Alcohol-based disinfectant works fine. If you can’t find alcohol-based disinfectant, don’t hesitate using the vinegar-based alternative.
- Applying an antiseptic
Don’t leave for the hospital before applying an antiseptic swab on top of the affected part of your body. The wound heals much faster if you’re careful to apply a good antiseptic without wasting any time. What is more, the wound has no problem healing without any other complication after you apply the antiseptic. Don’t forget to take note of the name of the antiseptic you applied as the doctor might ask you to explain the first-aid measures you took before reaching the hospital.
- Taking pain relievers or anti-itching medication
As mentioned under the symptoms, the part of the body that gnats bit can become too painful for comfort. In such instances, you need to find a way of relieving your body from such intense pain. A pain reliever is capable of making the situation better for you. No matter how itchy the affected area is, you should avoid scratching it, as this could open the wound up to further bacterial infections. Don’t take antihistamines until your doctor prescribes it for you.
- Visiting the doctor
Lastly, it pays to visit your doctor for further medical attention. If the swelling refuses to subside, you should rush to the doctor for additional medical treatment. If your body develops hives or you struggle breathing normally, your doctor should know about it as soon as possible. If the bites cause your mouth, chest or throat to swell, you should not hesitate seeking the doctor’s input. See the doctor once the wound begins drawing pus.
What to do to Prevent Gnat Bites:
It’s worth stating that you can protect yourself from gnat bites. You can do this within your property or surroundings. While outside your property, there might be little that you can do, especially if you’re in an area that struggles with gnat infestation. However, even if you’re outside your house, never forget to check the area for gnat infestation. If the area is infested, your next goal should be to locate the breeding grounds.
Each species of gnats has its own breeding ground as shown below:
- Fungus gnats
- Overwatered soil full of organic matter
- Areas full of drainage problems and water leaks
- Swelled wall coverings
- Peeling paint
- Eye gnats
- Moist and well-drained soils full of abundant organic matter
- Flower beds, golf courses, citrus groves, date gardens and crop fields
- Compost piles, grass clippings, leaf litter, drying organic matter and decaying weeds
- Buffalo gnats
- Other sources of running water
- Sand gnats
- Dry dark areas full of cold temperatures but humid weather
- Hollow trees
- Dead lead litter
- Animal burrows
After locating the breeding grounds, you should not leave it the way you found it. All breeding grounds deserve to be destroyed. Make the site, which the gnats have been using as their breeding ground, as clean and dry as possible. Don’t give the gnats a reason for coming back to reproduce and infest your property again. The fact that you have destroyed the breeding grounds doesn’t mean that your work is complete. Keep repeating the methods until all gnats are gone.
Therefore, you now know everything about the gnat bites. You have learned that the bites can cause diseases. You have learned how to identify the bites by looking at their symptoms. You have learned that the bites are treatable. You have learned that you can apply some first aid measures to make the bitten area safe and free from pathogens. Lastly, the article has shown you what to do to avoid gnat bites in the first place. Apply this knowledge to be safe.