Happy gnat season! After mud season, and immediately following my least favorite season (blackberry winter), comes gnat season. It’s horrible, they swarm your face, and though they rarely bite, just their presence can quickly lead to insanity. When we first opened the bluegill pond we thought we should get rid of the gnats because, for obvious reasons, people don’t like them. Unfortunately this isn’t possible. The gnats come from rotting wood and leaf matter. Our land is mostly forest, and with the Daniel Boone National Forest is right next door, we’re just going to have gnat season.
The internet says to use Deet containing insect repellents, but the gnats honestly just don’t care. They’re not like mosquitoes. They don’t want to land on you, they want to fly in your eyes. Similarly, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, and citronella oil may make you smell better, but the gnats don’t care. So since conventional, and alternative options have failed us, here’s seven lesser known ways to survive gnat season that actually work a little.
- Smoke. Gnats don’t like smoke at all. Just a little smoke will drive them off, so we keep smudge fires burning whenever we’re outside. They don’t have to be big, just smoky. If you smoke cigarettes, you’re already covered. If you don’t smoke, stand next to someone who does.
- Wind. They must be weak fliers because they don’t like wind. If you can work in front of a fan, as I am right now, it will drive them off.
- Shelter. Gnats don’t like to have anything over their heads, that’s why Blue spends most of the day in his stall. Trees won’t fool them, but standing under a manmade structure like a porch roof, or tent will keep them away. It doesn’t have to be big, even just a pop up canopy will do.
- Wide brimmed hats. Following the shelter concept, they mostly won’t fly under your hat. They will however hover just at the edge of the brim, so the bigger the hat the further away from your face the gnats will be.
- Bright colors. For unknown reasons, we’ve found that bright colors make them feel uncomfortable. I don’t just mean pink or yellow, but neons. Colors that practically glow in the dark, and blind people in the sun. Safety orange or yellow is especially effective.
- Glasses. They’re called safety glasses in the workshop, but the children call them gnat glasses outside. If wearing safety glasses everywhere makes you feel silly, sunglasses will also give you some protection. Glasses don’t change the gnats behavior at all, but it changes your perception. Instead of a life attacked by gnats, you’re watching your life on a screen attacked by gnats. They’re still there, they’re still attacking, but they’re not actually in your eyes.
- Frequent showering. The gnats are hunting you with intention and malice. Through the forest, and across the fields and rivers, they are seeking you. Showering seems to provide some amount of camouflage especially if you can use a smellier person nearby as bait.
The important thing to remember is that while it is gnat season, it’s not winter, or mud season, or the ever deceptive blackberry winter. It’s warm and sunny, the flowers are blooming, the river is swimming temperature. For those of us who hate the cold, the gnats are really just a sign that the world has become habitable again.