A column from 2011
Malea Guiriba: Gnats invading HastingsNeighbors * Hastings
Something has been on the minds of Hastonians for a couple of months now. Folks are talking about it wherever you go. If you are in town for even the shortest period of time, you know about it. It is insidious and a bit of a mystery. But I will write about it for the first time here.
Gnats. Yes, gnats. If you have spent even the slightest amount of time in the hamlet of Hastings, you know of what I write. In a totally unscientific study, based solely on a minimal amount of Internet research, I have determined these gnats to be the infamous Hippalates pusio or in layman's term the notorious Eye Gnat.
I arrived at my conclusion based on two known facts:
1. I had a conversation with my hair stylist, Jackie Baggett, and we talked about how she has to put eye masks on her horses because the gnats are drawn to their eyes and will just completely cover them.
2. The windows in the new pie mobile were not working, and they got inside and were in my eyes so bad that I was driving down 207, opening the van door at 55 miles per hour, in a desperate, but futile attempt to get them out of my car.
So I looked them up. In a study by the University of Florida department of entomology and nematology, researchers found that the eye gnat is prevalent in rural agricultural areas. The study said the pests can be very annoying to both humans and animals.
Right. They are tiny little scoundrels about 1/6 of an inch in length and as I surmised, they are especially attracted to moisture around the eyes and nose of folks when they are outside.
Tell me about it.
A couple of weekends ago, I was painting a house with some St. Johns Housing Partnership volunteers. Picture if you will, I was in tie-dye, but I still looked like I had been through the spin cycle with rotating paint brushes full of paint, all because I was constantly swatting the gnats with a loaded paint brush. I am still getting yellow and green paint out of my hair.
You can swat at them, you can spray them, you can lather yourself in Skin So Soft or Deep Woods Off, doesn't even faze them. Starting in late May or whenever the heat index kicks up, they love the warm, dry regions. You can see folks walking along Main Street with towels in their hands moving in a constant motion around the head and face trying to keep the little buggers from flying up their noses and into their mouths. Oh yes, sucking a gnat up your nose is a whole different experience.
Michelle Kiley, the children's librarian, said she thought folks were being especially friendly and her popularity was on the rise because she was constantly being waved at.
Turns out, even though Michelle is extremely popular, it was the gnats. People were walking up and down the street waving to keep the gnats away.
The UF study said the gnats are most prevalent in June through August. But that's not the worst of it. The peak period of gnatiness is in July, when the study showed, the gnat population density can reach 1 to 3 million gnats per quarter acre.
The pesky little buggers breed in decaying vegetation, soil containing lots of organic matter and of course, animal poop. They don't bite but they can carry diseases and because of their attraction to sores, cuts, secretions and orifices of man and animals, they can cause Pink Eye.
And the really bad news is, there are no control measures that are effective for long periods against the eye gnat. So my friends, for approximately the next 62 days, the eye gnat is here to stay.
And as my friend at the library, Kathy Esten, so eloquently put it, "There's gnat a darn thing you can do about it."
See you on Main Street.