The biting gnats (no-see-ums) have been hatching for the past couple of weeks. For the most part they haven't really been a problem or noticeable at all. But today, they're noticible. Not enough to make you go mad, but enough to get your attention.
There are thousands of species that are commonly referred to as biting gnats, biting midges, or no-see-ums. What we think we have here at Antelope Island are Bodega Black Gnats. But the jury is still out on just exactly what we do have here. I mean, come on, with thousands of species, it's sometimes hard to narrow it down. Especially when the critter is mere millimeters in size. But here is what do know: they are very small and they bite.
But let me be perfectly clear - not every single insect a person encounters on Antelope Island is of the biting variety. We have many, many insects. There are four that are quite common: biting gnats, mosquitoes, non-biting midges and brine flies. There are others, like horse flies and such. But those four are the main attractions.
Biting gnats and mosquitoes, obviously, bite. While you can generally keep mosquitoes away with insect repellant, the gnats aren't bothered by it in the least. The solution for the gnats is a fine mesh head net. You may look funny to others around you, but believe me, they will be singing a different tune when they realize you are having a marvelous time on that hike, while they are being eaten alive.
The non-biting midges and the brine flies are quite harmless. They do tend to swarm in large numbers, but they don't bite. So how can you tell the difference between those that want to eat you whole, and those that could care less? Well, if you can see them, and they are in a large swarm, you are just fine. Remember, no-see-um perfectly describes the little biters - you can't see 'em. And mosquitoes, while they can be plentiful, don't generally swarm.
You will find the non-biting midges along the roads, generally, in large columns. Brine flies you will find along the beaches in staggering numbers.
Biting gnats you will find, well, just about everywhere. So go get yourself a head net, and come out to the Island anyway. This is a perfectly beautiful time of year.
And the birds are singing about it!