Gnarly Gnats take over Southern Indiana

File Photo (WTHI Photo)
File Photo (WTHI Photo)

KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The banks of the mighty Wabash River. It flows by Terre Haute and also runs its course along the city of Vincennes. But that’s not all it does. This spring, the river’s water is playing host to the Buffalo Gnat; a bug classified as a small black fly which is a nuisance to people in the Wabash Valley.

“So what they do is, the larvae or the worm, live in the water, once they hatch into the adult phase, they get into a little bubble and they float the surface,” said Valerie Clingerman, Extension Educator, Purdue Extension Office, Knox County.

Clingerman noted, April’s weather conditions and rainfall totals probably contributed to the uptick in gnat population; clean water proves to be a solid breeding and hatching ground for the bugs.

“A lot of times, after rains and where stuff freshens up so to speak, they tend to like that,” she said.

With the massive Wabash River running through the Valley, and lots of rain to contribute to the mix, there’s no doubt the bug population is on the increase. The most likely place you’ll find them is near running water, like a drainage ditch, stream, or river. Clingerman says still standing water is not a place the Buffalo Gnats lay eggs, or hatch. However, homeowners away from fresh running water sources can also see the Buffalo Gnat because of the bug’s traveling ability.
“The adult can fly up to 10 miles away from the source,” said Clingerman. “They need to feed on blood, and they’re kind of similar to mosquitoes in that sense.”
The good news is, as soon as the water warms up you’ll see less of them. Experts say water temperatures around 66 degrees are prime for the insect, and when water temperatures warm up, the gnats will taper off. However, at about that time, the next round of insects move in; which Clingerman notes as mosquitoes. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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