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Buffalo gnats are making pests of themselves

Buffalo gnat
Buffalo gnat

If you’ve spent much time outside recently, you may have been fighting off swarms of flying insects. Buffalo gnats, also known as black flies, often show up this time of year and can stick around for several weeks. They’ve been very active this spring.

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, females bite because they feed on blood to produce their eggs. The bites can produce itching, bleeding and swelling as well as allergic reactions that can be life-threatening.

The flies are attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled by people and animals, and also to perspiration, fragrances and dark, moving objects. They are most active just after sunrise and before sunset on calm days.

There isn’t a lot you can do to avoid them. But experts offer some tips.

*Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat with netting.

*Large fans can also help deter flies.

*Suggested “home remedy” repellents, such as vanilla extract, have not been scientifically proven effective. DEET-containing repellents that deter mosquitoes are much less effective at repelling black flies and have even been reported to attract the flies.

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