CLINTON — There’s been plenty of hand waving in the Gateway area for the past few weeks.
These hand gestures have nothing to do with being friendly with neighbors.
Instead, residents are partaking in the yearly ritual of waving away gnats, something that appears to be spreading throughout the state of Iowa, Iowa State University entomologist Ken Holscher said.
Holscher receives calls each year from citizens on the eastern and western parts of the state, thanks to large, flowing bodies of water on Iowa’s borders.
Now, those calls aren’t only originating from the borders, Holscher said. Many people in Iowa are experiencing biting gnats, technically known as black flies, and it appears last year’s weather could be the culprit.
“Black flies take one year to go through a life cycle,” Holscher said. “So it’s nothing about this spring. Think back a year ago, and that water they’re developing in has been flowing for the past year.”
There is a silver lining in the emergence of black flies. They last for about two to three weeks, Holscher said.
For Bickelhaupt Arboretum Director Margo Hansen, it seems like the black flies are staying around longer.
“Last year, it seemed like the worst season for buffalo gnats (also another name for black flies) I can ever remember in my entire life,” Hansen said. “This year it didn’t seem as bad, but it just feels like the seasons last longer.”
No matter how long black flies stick around, the other insect prevalent on so many people’s annoyance radar could be around until the first frost.
Mosquitos also are in attack mode in the Gateway area. Unlike black flies, which need fresh, running water like the Mississippi River, mosquitos survive in stagnant water, like puddles that form from rain showers.