How to Get Rid of Buffalo Gnats

Kimberly Sharpe

Buffalo gnats, also called black flies, belong to the Simuliidae family. The flying insects drink the blood of humans and animals. Bites often occur on the nostrils, wrists, nose, around and eyes and exposed body skin. The bites cause localized swelling, pain and itching.

Buffalo gnats often kill chickens.

Some individuals may suffer an allergic reaction and suffer severe swelling. Large swarms of the insects will kill poultry or livestock. Stricken animals usually experience an allergic reaction to the buffalo gnat's bite, which causes anaphylactic shock. Buffalo gnats also transmit diseases to poultry.

  1. Stay indoors during the daytime. Buffalo gnats feed during day light hours only.

  2. Wear long sleeves, pants, boots and a hat outside. Avoid exposing skin to the buffalo gnats. Choose clothes that offer a light color which helps deter the buffalo gnats. Consider treating clothing with a permethrin based pesticide.

  3. Apply a pesticide repellent that contains DEET to the skin. Follow the directions on the label for application instructions. Reapply the product every two to three hours.

  4. Place chickens in a fly proof, dark poultry house during the daylight when the buffalo gnats swarm. Hang fans in the poultry house to help cool and circulate the air.

  5. Apply permethrin-based fly control products to livestock and poultry to protect them from the bites of the buffalo gnat. Follow the directions on the label for application.

  6. Tip

    Buffalo gnats usually only live for four to five weeks. They disappear once the summer heat becomes high. Female buffalo gnats lay their eggs in water. When the water temperature raises to 66 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit the larvae of the insect quickly perishes. The larvae of the buffalo gnat requires fast moving water. Consider damming up any streams or creeks to kill the larvae before they reach the fly stage. The larvae will die in calm water within 10 to 24 hours, according to the Ohio State University's website. Place cotton bags or equine face covers over a horse's face to protect its eyes and years from the insects. Repellents that contain ethyl hexanediol, dimethyl phthalate, citronella oil may offer varying degrees of effectiveness against buffalo gnats.


    Anyone that has an adverse reaction to the bite of a buffalo gnat should seek immediate medical care.