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Gnats Up The Nose

A while back, Jeff and I exchanged emails regarding gnats. And, due to popular demand, I’ve republished this exchange on our beloved blog:

Frequently, Jeff emails us “how to” emails. This email was titled “How to Avoid Gnats”:

Everyone knows what gnats are. They’re those little pesky flies that you try to get rid of. They’re small, they bite and their bites can end up being an itchy, bleeding and mottled mess. Here’s some ideas on how to stop them getting you.

1. Find shady or windy places. If gnats are bothering you, it is often a good idea to find in an area that is shady or windy because the gnats hate these spots. They also don’t like the cold as much.
2. Find clean water. Gnats don’t like clean water. Then again, humans don’t much like dirty water, so this is probably a good solution for both!
3. Gnats are usually around at night so go outdoors in early morning.
4. Cigarette smoke will keep gnats away. set up a perimeter of cigarettes and you might be safe.

My response:
As the resident expert on gnats (I grew up ½ time in Camilla, Georgia … home of Gnat Days … a celebration honoring these cute little flies and the folks that survive amongst them), I’d like to share with you some additional information.

Eating Gnats
People who live in gnat infested locations around the country have a higher body mass index because of all the extra protein they get from eating gnats. For instance, you’re at a picnic and you’re eating fried chicken, baked beans and potato salad and you’re drinking sweet tea. The gnats are all around because they love picnics, too. So, they land on your chicken leg … you can’t see them … they disguise themselves as a crispy, golden piece of crunch. They land in your baked beans. Now, they don’t like baked beans, but in the south, the beans are so gooey that they just can’t get out and they drown. Then, some land in the potato salad. Sort of same as the beans, except southerners love it when they land in food like potato salad because it saves them from having to pack black pepper in their picnic baskets. Now, I’m sharing with you secrets that we just don’t talk about. Because, although I know for a fact that we eat gnats all the time during the summer in Georgia, people act like they don’t. The ladies will fan their napkins until their hand is about to fall off and they’ll say things like, “My … ohhhh my … how am I ever going to get enough of this food in me to stay alive one more day with all these gnats swarming around me … I declare!”

The Most Dangerous Gnats
Now, Jeff, don’t get mad, but I must say that Georgia gnats never bite and they don’t itch or make you bleed. However, I have heard of something called “sand fleas” doing that to people and gnats really are starting to feel that they’re being discriminated against because of what these fleas are doing around our beaches.

However, Georgia gnats can kill you … or at least make you think that you’re going to die a long, slow miserable death! Kids especially are susceptible so watch them carefully. Here’s a common scenario (this really has happened to me) … you’re outside playing kick-the-can. You’re running fast … really fast and then all of a sudden it happens … the gnat flies up your nose! Now, you’re in quite a dilemma because you have to stop mid breath. You can’t breath in anymore or it will clog your nose even more and you try to breath out, but no air can get past the gnat. It begins as a tickling sensation that turns into pain. The lucky ones, I’m one of the lucky ones, makes a huge scene by calling time out in the best kick-the-can game of all time. Your cousins think that you’re just doing that so you won’t get tagged. You have to convince them so you collapse onto the ground spread eagle. And, then, if you are going to live through this, it takes the help of other gnats. Because you are lying there so still, the gnat’s family has the opportunity to seize your face and begin looking for their relative to save him from your nostril. Then, they begin to cover your eyes and your nose (you’re pursing your lips so they can’t get in). Then … it happens … the gnats help make it happen … they are the curse and the cure … they make you sneeze a giant sneeze and they all come flying out and you’re alive and you’re cousins don’t think you’re yellow (or in Georgia they say yeller).

Border Patrol
For whatever reason (we don’t talk about it very much because we’re afraid the gnats will hear … I hope that gmail is not gnat mail … anyway). For whatever reason, I have lived ½ time in Georgia and ½ time in Florida and we don’t have gnats in Florida like they have just across the border. You go to Thomasville and you’ll see!

So, I probably cross the border more times than anyone in this office (that’s why I’m a little confused about my dialect) and whenever I leave during gnat season, I ride with all of my windows down and my sunroof open so all the gnats will fly out. Then, sometimes they get cozy and settle in on my dashboard (you’d think it was a auditorium style theatre) and I have to shoo them out (but I know how to shoo because all the ladies who raised me had fly swatters that they would pop you with if you got out of line). Then, the last check is to stop the car at the gas station with cheap gas just before the border and do an inspection – under the seats, in the dirty laundry, in the trunk and under the hood. When you believe you’ve got an all clear, you can return to Florida once more without bringing the gnats across the state lines. So, don’t forget to do this on your next trip or you could single handedly be responsible for a border breach.

><(("> Melissa Laughon

Melissa is a ><(("> Team Member at Catch Your Limit, a management consulting firm with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, visit

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