Despite being disgusting and annoying, are gnats dangerous? Can they actually make you sick? Keep on reading to learn more about these creatures.
Gnats don’t just appear out of nowhere, but it seems like they do because a single female can lay up to 300 eggs per day. Knowing that the average lifespan of a gnat is about 4 months, you can imagine the number of gnats you can end up with if a few individuals sneak into your house.
Gnats usually live in trash cans, feeding off the rotten and decayed matter. However, they can be found in your garden feeding off rotten fruits and sneak through any crack or hole in your foundation, walls, doors, or windows.
Are Gnats Dangerous to Humans?
Gnats can be easily mistaken for mosquitos, although they’re smaller. If your house is infested by gnats, it might seem challenging to get rid of them quickly, so you should be asking yourself about their potential danger.
Unfortunately, some types of gnats can actually bite humans. It’s not common, but it’s possible. The bites usually cause itchy red bumps on the skin, but in some cases, they can lead to a severe allergic reaction.
Although gnats feed on the nectar of rotten fruits and different types of decayed matter, some females need blood to lay eggs. So, they might bite pets, poultry, livestock, and even humans.
Some species have scissor-like mouths that penetrate the skin and insert saliva to inject the blood with a substance called anticoagulants. This substance thins the blood, so it’s easier to absorb and digest by the gnat, and it also creates a bite that feels painful to touch.
If you’re allergic to this substance, you might develop a severe allergic reaction when a gnat bites you. However, in most cases, you can safely treat a gnat bite at home.
There’s another danger associated with gnats that might make you sick. Gnats feed on decayed matter, so they’re likely to be found in trash bins and around decomposed organic matter in your backyard. This includes dead animal carcasses and poop. They also thrive around drains, feeding off the slimy decomposed matter that might accumulate due to bad plumbing.
When these creatures touch your skin or attempt to bite you, they will transfer an unlimited number of harmful microorganisms that can affect your health. So some of the sickness you might feel isn’t related to the gnats themselves but to the dangerous microorganisms, germs, and bacteria they carry and spread around.
What Does a Gnat Bite Feel Like?
Gnat bites look very much like mosquito bites, and the allergic reaction is caused by the gnat’s saliva and the substance it injects into the blood. The bite causes red, itchy, and swollen bumps. The bumps are usually very painful to touch.
In some cases, you might notice minor bleeding where the gnat has bitten the skin. This is usually common among children and people who have sensitive skin. However, if it causes a severe allergic reaction, the bumps might turn into blisters that get filled with fluid.
Are Gnats Dangerous to Animals?
When it comes to animals, gnats present a serious threat because they can actually kill your livestock and poultry. Gnats can congregate around the eyes, ears, and noses of poultry, making them extremely stressed, so they don’t eat. They also block their vision and make them extremely disoriented, so they can get aggressive or run around, even knocking each other down.
Even if you have large cattle, you need to pay attention to gnats. They can block the airways of animals, eventually causing an anaphylactic shock. Moreover, the gnats can cause incisions that eventually kill the animal.
Cows are specifically annoyed by gnats, and this prevents them from eating. They also affect the production of milk and can make the animals aggressive and uncomfortable. There’s still no proof that gnats can transfer disease to humans, but they can transfer leucocytozoonosis, a dangerous parasite to poultry.
Are Gnats Dangerous to Plants?
Adult gnats don’t bite people, but their larvae can damage the roots and affect plant growth. These creatures can specifically harm houseplants and young outdoor plants because they affect the root system and eventually cause plant death. The damaging effect is less serious in outdoor established plants because they have stronger root systems.
How Can You Treat a Gnat Bite?
If you have a minor reaction to a gnat bite, you can safely treat it at home. However, if the bump becomes more swollen or turns into a fluid-filled blister, you need to go to the doctor.
- Use soap and water to wash the area. This is enough to clean the skin off any residual saliva that might cause an allergic reaction. It also helps soothe any irritation. You should avoid rubbing the area because this can make the bump itchier.
- Apply cold compresses to the skin to alleviate the swelling. You should never apply ice directly to the skin because it can cause burns. Soak a towel in icy cold water or wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to the skin for about 10 minutes.
- Use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce the inflammation signs. There are several brands on the market, and applying a thin layer twice a day will make the bite feel less painful. Always read the directions and don’t expose the area to the sun.
- Apply calamine solution to soothe the skin. It’s comforting and can relieve the pain in case of minor skin irritations.
- You can use antihistamines if the bite feels too itchy or painful. Most of the brands are available without a prescription, and taking medicine will help you feel better. You shouldn’t drive or use heavy machinery after taking these medications because they can make you feel drowsy and sleepy.
- Keep the area elevated. If you get bitten in the arms or the legs, keep the area elevated by resting it on a pillow or a cushion. This will help drive the blood away from the infected area, so it will reduce the swelling and itchiness.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Most gnat bites aren’t dangerous, but if you’re suffering from some severe symptoms, you need to see the doctor. Visit the doctor or go to the nearest hospital in the following cases.
- A gnat bit you around the mouth, and your lips are swollen.
- You got bitten near the eyes, and your eyelids are swollen.
- You’re facing difficulty breathing or seeing clearly.
- The gnat bite still looks red and bumpy after 2 weeks.
- The bite has turned into a blister.
- You see pus collecting where you got bitten.
- You’re facing difficulty swallowing.
- You feel nauseated.
In any of the previous cases, your body might be dealing with a severe allergic reaction caused by the gnats’ bites. You might also be feeling sick because of another microorganism that the gnat has infected you with. Remember that gnats feed off decomposed matter, which is full of harmful bacteria, fungi, and germs.
Gnats are a nuisance and can be dangerous if you don’t deal with them. Some types of gnats can bite humans and cause a severe allergic reaction. Even if they don’t bite, gnats can spread infections because they live around and feed off decomposed matter. Gnats can also cause serious harm to animals and plants.
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