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Flooding, weather create conditions for another buffalo gnat outbreak in Arkansas
As floodwaters recede in southern and eastern Arkansas, many residents have already reported alarming numbers of buffalo gnats covering mailboxes, harassing pets and livestock, and chasing spring turkey hunters with no head nets out of the bottomland hardwoods. Reports from county extension agents have indicated that buffalo gnats are much worse than normal, rivaling preliminary estimates from last year’s huge outbreak of the insects.
According to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, roughly 100 domesticated animals and at least 280 deer were killed during the buffalo gnat outbreak that occurred last March. While the outbreak did not pose a threat to wildlife on a population level, they did cause concern among many people who saw photos and videos of animals plagued by insects and caused an extreme nuisance for many outdoors enthusiasts and people working outdoors in areas affected by the swarms.
Southern buffalo gnats, a type of black fly, are common in Arkansas, but rarely pose a problem unless the conditions line up to create a large hatch. They breed in moving water and their eggs can be found in the silt. Flooded areas with flowing water can hatch large quantities of eggs, and if the water temperature is mild, the eggs will hatch in a very short period. The March through May period tends to have the most favorable conditions for this sort of hatch until the weather becomes dry and hot enough to suppress the insects’ life cycles.
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