Swarms of small black flying bugs have been reported at spots around South Talladega County in recent days, but an exterminator says it’s nothing to worry about.
“If it’s the black ones with the red dot on them, that’s love bugs,” said Pete Haisten, owner of Haisten’s Pest Control in Childersburg since 1971. “They’ll be gone in two or three weeks if not sooner. You can spray them with pesticide, but they don’t sting or bite. They’re just a nuisance.”
Haisten said just as willow flies, millipedes and lady bugs hatch out and seemingly invade in waves, so do love bugs.
“It’s just hatching season for them. If they don’t get in your house, the best thing to do is just wait them out.”
Alabama Cooperative Extension Service Agent Dani Terrell believes what we’re seeing is black fungal gnats. And just as Haisten said, Terrell said they’re harmless and they won’t be around for long.
“You can blame the weather this year,” she said. “They thrive in moist areas. Their larvae live in wet, soupy, decaying vegetation, and this has been the wettest summer we’ve seen in a long time.”
Terrell, who serves an area stretching from Etowah to Chambers counties including Talladega County, said the gnats emerge every year for a few weeks. “They’re short-lived, but they’re everywhere right now. We might see them this year in higher numbers and the emergence might last longer because it has been so wet. But usually we don’t see them for that long.”
Haisten agreed that this year’s hatch has been the largest in several years, and that’s why many people didn’t recognize them.
Terrell said this year’s hatch may have peaked, and she believes the number of bugs has begun to wane.
She said love bugs do exist in Alabama, but fungal gnats don’t have a red spot. Rather, they have a slender orange-reddish body under their wings. And, love bugs frequently fly around coupled together, as if to show their love for one another, while the gnats fly around individually.
Whether they’re love bugs or fungal gnats, Sylacauga apartment manager Sandra Dupree said she’s ready for them to be gone. She has sprayed and swept up hundreds of the bugs around the office at Autumn Trace Apartments. “Our residents are wondering why they’re gathering at the door. It seems like they want to come in. Maybe they want to get cool, I don’t know,” she said.