Recently, several poultry producers and 4-H'rs have contacted the Purdue Extension Offices in Clay and Owen counties concerning loss of chickens due to an insect called buffalo gnats.
These gnats are commonly referred to as black flies. They are blood sucking flies that can cause anaphylactic shock, toxemia, blood loss, and suffocation in livestock. Some species of buffalo gnats can transmit a blood-borne parasite which affects poultry, called leukocytozoon. Not only do they impact livestock, but they can cause pain, itching, and swelling to humans when bitten.
Buffalo gnats lay their eggs in running water. Adults emerge in late spring to early summer. The good news is that once water temperatures reach 66-75 degrees, the larva will die. This will help put an end to their destruction and hopefully, will occur within the next three weeks.
To help control the impact of buffalo gnats on your poultry flock, you should bring all birds indoors and put fans on them. Try to keep them indoors in a darkened barn during the day. To protect yourself from buffalo gnats, try to avoid being outside during the day. If you must go outside during the day, wear light colors and long sleeves. You can also utilize insect repellants containing DEET. However, they only have limited success with controlling buffalo gnats.