Why do Gnats Swarm?

by | Mar 14, 2015 | Single Family Home

It’s a lovely day, and you’re walking and minding your own business when all of a sudden, you run into a HUGE swarm of gnats! You try to swipe them away but it’s useless. Some bicyclists have even been known to swallow a few, ewwww! What is this cloud of insects, you ask? Gnats! Now let’s ask the obvious follow-up: Why do gnats swarm? A gnat is a general term for a number of small two-winged flies such as fungus gnats and midges. Their life cycles are short, ranging from three to four weeks. Both fungus gnats and midges begin as eggs, move onto larvae, become pupae, and finally mature into adults. The difference in these life cycles lies in location. Fungus gnats are known to infest homes and greenhouses because they feed on fungi and organic matter in soil. Females will lay their eggs in moist organic areas and most of their life cycle is spent in the larva and pupa stages. As adults, they will live anywhere from 4-7 days. Midges on the other hand, will live most of their life cycle in water! As eggs are laid on the surface of the water, the gradually sink to the bottom and the larvae will hatch after about a week. They burrow into the mud and feed off of the organic matter in the water. They have hemoglobin in their blood that allows them to survive under low oxygen conditions under the mud. They emerge as adults and live somewhere between 3-5 days . Although their adult stages are short, it’s in this part of their life where they become the greatest nuisance. Those swarms mentioned earlier are actually called ghosts. So now we come back to our original question: why do gnats swarm? Interestingly, these large ghosts are made up of male gnats looking for a female partner! Yes, you got it; these swarms are actually large breeding parties . In their short adult lives, these little guys are clustered together to create the next generation. So the next time you’re out for leisurely walk, make sure you watch out for these swarming gnats!