Originally created 05/14/05

A dark invader flies into Augusta



Been a little buggy lately?

No wonder. Augusta is in the middle of an invasion by dark-winged fungus gnats of the family Sciaridae - not to be confused with love bugs or lightning bugs, said Richmond County Extension Agent Sid Mullis.

"All week, we have just been bombarded with people calling and bringing them in for us to identify," he said. "We very seldom run across populations of an insect like this."

The good news is the gnats don't cause any harm - for the most part. They're just a nuisance that should go away by next weekend.

"They just go away," Mr. Mullis said. "They die off."

But there's bad news, too.

"There will probably be a second generation of them in August," he said.

And they might not be so harmless after all, Mr. Mullis allowed.

"Now this is rare, but in large numbers the larvae might damage turf grass," he said. "But I would doubt as a rule they're going to do a lot of harm."

The gnats are mainly coming from the organic matter they feed on: leaf litter, decomposing wood, mulch piles. Excess moisture can contribute to the concentration, he said.

"A lot of people water all the time," he said. "The more they water and keep things wet, the more they're typically going to have."

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.