The different types of gnats all belong to a class of animals in the Dipterid suborder Nematocera. These tiny flying insects live for about 5 months and can be both biting and non-biting.
A female gnat can lay up to 300 eggs in a single day. They are also the ones that bite and are capable of spreading infections to humans and other animals. Male gnats do not bite.
Gnats are known to feed on plants, soil, fungus, other insects, or even on blood (some females need the protein for their eggs).
Adult gnats are very small. Most are less than a 1/4 of an inch long. They can be yellowish, tan or dark brown in color. However, it’s not uncommon to see other slight color variations.
You can easily identify the common gnat as they are often seen at dusk in swarms. However, these are the males of the species gathering in mating groups.
Buffalo gnats are also known as black flies. These types of gnats have a humped back similar to a buffalo. They’re black in color hence their other name. The male buffalo gnats feed on nectar. However, female buffalo gnats need blood to nourish their eggs. So, they swarm and bite humans and other animals.
The female black fly lays hundreds of triangular eggs in or near water. Some females will crawl below the surface to drop eggs on submerged rocks. Black fly larvae are worm-like and are normally less than half an inch long and shaped like an hourglass.
Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat
The dark-winged fungus gnat also known as sciaridae is a small gnat that is grayish-black in color and grows to about 1/8th of an inch in length.
The types of gnats live for about 1 week and the female dark-winged fungus gnat lays about 100-150 eggs during this time.
As their name suggests this gnat species prefer fungus and are known to be devastating to mushroom colonies and other plants as the larvae feeds on their roots.
Eye gnats are non-biting. However, the adult female eye gnat is strongly attracted to moisture around the eyes and nose of humans and other animals. Not to worry though, they won’t lay any eggs in your eyes.
The larvae of gall midges or gall gnats feed on plant tissue which results in an abnormal growth called a gall (hence their name). They usually grow up to be 1/8 of an inch with many being much small than that.
Sand gnats or sand flies refers to any species of flying, biting, blood-sucking pests found in sandy areas. They usually belong to the diptera order which are flies with two wings.