Turkey gnats pose nuisance to people, but threat to chickens

Linda F. Benedict, Lavergne, Theresia, Foil, Lane D.

News Release Distributed 05/03/11

This is the time of the year when a tiny black fly known as the turkey gnat appears and becomes a nuisance to poultry, especially caged or cooped poultry.

These gnats can cause death of poultry and other captive birds because of the toxins in the saliva of the feeding gnats, according to Theresia Lavergne, LSU AgCenter poultry specialist. She said the swarming of these gnats can disturb poultry and cause them to injure themselves or pile up on each other, which can lead to suffocation and death.

“These gnats are a problem for about a four-week period,” Lavergne said, adding that she first started getting calls about the gnats last week. These gnats appear every year in about April or early May. Last year the gnats did, in fact, cause a few chickens to die.

The turkey gnat is a black fly that develops in bayous and flooded areas. In the spring, the adults are around for about a month and then go away. However, the females will deposit eggs that will develop next spring, according to Lane Foil, LSU AgCenter entomologist.

These gnats attack during the daytime but do not go into barns or enclosures. To protect poultry, keep them in an enclosure during the daytime, if possible, such as a barn or shed. If an enclosure is not available, put screening over their coops to keep out the gnats, Lavergne said.

Poultry producers may want to purchase an insecticide containing permethrin, which can be sprayed on the birds and their surroundings.

“Please follow the directions on the label,” Lavergne said.

People can protect themselves from these gnats the same way they protect themselves from mosquitoes, Lavergne said. Wear lightweight clothing and hats that cover the skin and use an insect repellent containing DEET.

Linda Foster Benedict

5/4/2011 1:45:28 AM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture