New species of aggressive gnats bugging people in the Twin Cities

These black flies have emerged earlier and are different from the ones that the MMCD treats.
A black fly. 

A black fly. 

Are gnats bugging you? You're not alone. People around the Twin Cities metro have reported multiple welts on their necks this spring from these biting bugs.

This comes as the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD) has reported a new species of gnats (also called black flies) in some areas of the Twin Cities. 

And this species is being called more aggressive than the gnats we're used to, Fox 9 reports.

"The new species of gnat (Simulium tuberosum) has been found in a few places around the Twin Cities," Alex Carlson of MMCD told Bring Me The News. "We are getting lots of calls about gnats (we call them black flies) and we are investigating whether these calls are about the new species or the species we know and already monitor and treat." 

The gnats were bad last spring, too. The MMCD said it was difficult to treat areas due to high water levels. But this year, the issue seems to be black flies emerging earlier and a different species that they don't normally treat, Carlson said. 

"We are in heavy data collection mode right now to learn more about what we're dealing with – what species, exactly, and where they come from," he said.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

This surge in this species of black flies could be because other gnats the MMCD has treated for has given these bugs an opportunity to expand their range, the MMCD's John Walz told MPR News

The MMCD has started conducting surveillance and treatment for mosquitos and black flies in the areas it covers, including along the Minnesota River. 

"So there will hopefully be some relief for people affected by those (black flies that we typically see)," Carlson said.

This new species of black flies, though, the MMCD may not be able to treat for until next year. But there's some good news: "From what we know it sounds like a one-generation species that will hopefully last only 2-3 weeks," Carlson said.

To protect yourselves from the biting flies, MMCD recommends people wear EPA-approved bug spray (DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus are most effective), cover your head and neck, wear light colors, and avoid peak times. And the good news is gnats, mosquitos and ticks can't spread COVID-19, the MMCD says.

These black flies are different from the swarms of bugs that were reported near Lake Minnetonka and Prior Lake in late April. These weren't mosquitoes, they were chironomid midges, with Metropolitan Mosquito Control District noting they aren't harmful, but their swarms can be annoying.

Next Up

Adam Thielen

Vikings place Adam Thielen on COVID-19/reserve list

Thielen is coming off a two-touchdown game against the Cowboys.

MCF Oak Park Heights

COVID-positive inmate at Oak Park Heights prison dies

He becomes the fourth prison inmate to die from the virus.

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 1.08.19 PM

2-ton smoker stolen from Twin Cities chef Thomas Boemer

Boemer is the chef behind restaurants including the popular Revival.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz says relief package is coming for Minnesota small businesses

Walz is prepared to call a special session and pass the package immediately.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Gov. Tim Walz COVID-19 press conference Monday

Walz will be introducing a new app that helps Minnesotans track COVID-19 exposures.


maplewood nature center

Maplewood Nature Center closing indefinitely, staff laid off

The city said it had to make a "tough financial decision."

gray wolf

Gray wolf removed from the endangered species list

A decision on whether they can be hunted in Minnesota will come later.

minnesota zoo

Minnesota Zoo launches activities to get people embracing nature

The zoo is hosting a pumpkin scavenger hunt and a "Do the Zoo, Not Zoom Day."

nia black

Peace walk for justice after woman fatally shot in front of 50 people

Nia Black was killed last month in front of a crowd, yet no one has come forward with information on who shot her.


Science Museum of Minnesota will reopen Sept. 4

Museum members have gotten earlier access to exhibits.