That welt on your leg may be the work of a tiny little fly that's terrorizing the Hudson Valley.

Reports of painful bumps and swelling are all over social media this week, with many Hudson Valley residents concerned that they may have been bitten by a dangerous spider or tick.

While tick bites are a major concern this time of year, many of the bites being reported online have turned out to be from gnats. These small flying bugs are sometimes referred to as black flies or flying midges, but whatever you call them they are no joke.

These swarming bugs are usually more of a problem upstate and in the Adirondacks, but the unusually mild winter has caused these pests to grow in large numbers here in the Hudson Valley as well. With more people spending time hanging out in their backyards due to the pandemic, these blood-eating gnats are having the time of their lives feasting on legs, necks and arms.

Tuesday was a beautiful day, with warm sunny weather drawing many residents outdoors. I was one of those people who decided to take advantage of the break from the rain and wound up taking a nap in my backyard. Later that evening I found a few unusual red marks on my arm about the size of a pencil eraser. Overnight, the welts began grew larger and started to itch. On Thursday morning they are still there and are painfully itchy.

Sonny Sixteen on Unsplash
Sonny Sixteen on Unsplash

Your best defense against these gnats is to wear long pants and sleeves when going outdoors. No matter how many times you try to swoosh them away, these small flies will still find a way to land, patiently crawling around until they find a good place to bite. If you can't completely cover up, a bug repellent that includes the ingredient DEET is also effective in keeping these nasty bugs away.

Cold compresses, antihistamines and other bite remedies can help with the itching, but the only real cure for a nasty gnat bite is time. After several days the swelling will eventually go down (or at least that's what I hope).

Have you been bitten by a gnat over the past few days? You can share your experience with us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.


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