MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the worst spring gnat season in 22 years, according to the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.
The late and quick snowmelt made it impossible to spray in advance of the season’s first round of gnats.
That means lots of kids, dogs and adults were bitten this past weekend. They shared lots of photos of bloody bites and scabs online.
Social media users also had lots of Good Questions about the bugs, so WCCO took them to a pediatrician and the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD).
According to the MMCD’s Mike McLean, the first round of gnats that hit Minnesota each year are out in full force and biting, especially in the areas close to rivers.
Up north, people often refer to the bugs as black flies, but they are the same.
DO GNATS CARRY DISEASE?
No, says McLean.
He says there are four species of gnats that bother people in Minnesota, but none of them are dangerous.
SHOULD PARENTS BE WORRIED ABOUT THE BITES AND SCABS?
Dr. Gigi Chawla, of Children’s Minnesota, says most bites and scabs will heal on their own, but parents should watch out for signs of infection.
She says kids should do their best not to scratch, even if that means using Calamine lotion or taking Benadryl.
IS BUG SPRAY SAFE FOR KIDS?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, insect repellent is safe for children, but use products that contain no more than 30-percent DEET.
Chawla also says apply the spray directly to the skin, but wash it off at the end of the day.
CAN A FAMILY TREAT THEIR HOME FOR GNATS?
McLean says there are some products, but it can be difficult because gnats live so high in trees. The material would have to sprayed all the way to the tops of the trees.
Why are gnats attracted to the backs of necks?
McLean says because gnats live high in trees, they divebomb people to bite. They end up biting the closer thing they find, which is often the head.