Gnat season is here and we could see a lot more in north Georgia this year

ATLANTA — Get ready! Gnat season is here and we could see a lot more of them in north Georgia this year.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Katie Walls says cleaner rivers and streams (yes, we said cleaner) are bringing the pesky critters in higher numbers this year -- and experts say it will only get worse.

The “Gnat Line” usually runs through middle Georgia, keeping the majority of the pests in middle and south Georgia.

But this year it’s moving north.

Cleaner water in our streams this year makes for an ideal breeding ground for the black flies.

"What we’re seeing is that the Chattahoochee River and the waters flowing in in general are cleaner than they have been in decades," Jason Ulseth with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper said. "That's based upon data going back to the '60s."

Cleaner water that's running higher than normal in many areas provides an ideal breeding ground for gnats.


Walls spoke to Orkin entomologist Chelle Hartzer, who said that stagnant water breeds mosquitoes, and faster-moving water breeds other types of flies.

"We have some species like our dragonflies, Dobson flies, that like that nice clean, fresh, flowing water, and that’s sometimes how we can tell if a stream is healthy, which species are in it," Hartzer said.

Hartzer said some of the fly species bite, but most flies themselves are harmless.

What they carry on their feet is a different story.

"If you look at a fly's feet, it's actually got a lot of surface area, and they can pick up those particles that may have bacteria and deposit them where they land -- which could be your kitchen counter," Hartzer said.

Hartzer recommends using an EPA-approved bug spray if you're outside.