1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Buffalo Gnats Killing Chickens?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by CBormann, May 20, 2009.

  1. serenityNH

    serenityNH Chillin' With My Peeps

    340
    7
    111
    Mar 7, 2011
    Raymond, NH
    Wow, this is so scary! I'm so glad I came across this before I got my chickens so I can be prepared for next year. The past few weeks you can't even go outside to get the mail without being attacked by these gnats- they love to go for your eyes and up your nose! We live on the river and they are just relentless here as we are in the middle of their breeding grounds. They are starting to get better now thank goodness but I better start planning my plan of attack for next spring so my chickens will be safe.

    I'm so sorry to everyone who has lost their chickens to these nasty creatures. [​IMG]
     
  2. bockbock2008

    bockbock2008 Why do they call me crazy??

    Dec 30, 2008
    Southwest Indiana
    Appearantly these little pests are back with a vengence. I had about 10 of my cornish x dead a couple hours ago and the rest have either also died or are pretty close. I've never had this problem before and when they were eating them off each other yesterday, I just thought they were getting extra protein [​IMG] NOW, after loosing them, I have found out somewhat of whats going on with them but if you notice them make sure you do something to protect your flock!!
     
  3. SteveH

    SteveH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2009
    West/Central IL
    Yesterday I had a flock of 52.......................... today 7.

    When I discovered dead and dieing birds yesterday, I grabbed 3 dead and headed for a state ran disease lab, only about 30 miles away............................... by the time I got back, birds healthy when I left were dead. I had six live birds in the pens at dusk. [The state doctor had not found the problem yet today when I informed him what had killed them] Today one of those was dead, but I found 2 that had flown over the top of a fence, hid, and lived.

    I had seen swarms of gnats on my dead and dieing birds, a few on the healthy, but had never considered the possability that the rapid deaths were being caused by the gnats. My neighbor says the buffalo gnats have killed entire flocks in this area before; they crawl in the nostrils, get in the airways, and death may occur soon after.

    Locals tell me that with the population a plague levels, the only two remedies are either a high velocity fan, or spraying bleach in the coop. I figured spraying bleach was too hard on my bird's respiratory systems, tried hanging little glass bottles full of bleach around, but it did not help enough. I bought a high velocity fan today at Walmart for under $40; it worked great. I also replaced a burned out bug zapper, but not a gnat flew into it. I also tried various repellents, they work for a few minutes at best............................ so much for vanilla, skin-so-soft, etc. that everyone says works.

    Here's what I've learned by experience over the last two days:
    Either buffalo gnats in general, or this subspecies, only fly from dawn to dusk.................... they hate the dark. They prefer tall grass or a wind break like pine trees, but will fly into a dry pen as well. If a bird survives a bad attack, it will seek a dark place to hide the next time around. In an emergency, shutting birds in a fully dark coop will work [though we all know chickens need light to eat or drink.] My coops are partially open front and light paneled, darkness was sought in nest boxes and corners. The little room off my rabbit hutch-turned-brooder was not dark enough even though the doorway is small, maybe because of the wire floor, and the gnats made short work of the chicks hatched at Easter. The gnats can't fly against much wind, a good fan will blow a swarm away immediately. With in minutes of turning it on, my 6 survivors were happily standing in front of it. Its on a timer now, to run from dawn to dusk 'till this plague is over.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  4. BrattishTaz

    BrattishTaz Roo Magnet

    4,445
    12
    213
    Jan 8, 2011
    Tampa Area, Florida
    I saw a post yesterday that said buffalo gnats were killing chickens. The OP said that a dab of pure vanilla extract on the birds' heads will help repel them.
     
  5. plantmgr

    plantmgr Chillin' With My Peeps

    106
    0
    89
    Aug 13, 2010
    that's right. Vanilla works. So does Listerine/ Scope mouth wash. I put them in spray bottles and spray the coop and the chickens several times a day. i think the vanilla is better, but the mouthwash is cheaper. Also, placing Bounce Fabric softener sheets around the coop and in nesting boxes seems to work. I need to get more vanilla today! They are awful at my house.
     
  6. plantmgr

    plantmgr Chillin' With My Peeps

    106
    0
    89
    Aug 13, 2010
    one more thing, watch for the chickens piling up. Not only do the gnats smother the chickens by crawling in their nostrils, but the chickens will hide their faces under each other to keep the gnats out of their noses and then they end up smothering each other! it's horrible! We've lost several chickens this way throughout the years before we figured out the vanilla thing. A fan in the coop seems to help too.
     
  7. minerdc

    minerdc New Egg

    1
    0
    6
    May 20, 2011
    I lost 5 Rhodes, juveniles....just got their feathers, I think to the biting gnats, two weeks ago....so ya, I got the same thing here in Southwest Indiana. They were dead in a day. My older hens were going crazy in the coop, so I let them out and they ran for cover, under a shed....wouldn't come out till dark, then they ran, scared and biting to the coop....I sprayed Permathrine around and killed a lot of the gnats....and sprayed vanilla/water on the hens last night.
     
  8. bockbock2008

    bockbock2008 Why do they call me crazy??

    Dec 30, 2008
    Southwest Indiana
    The death toll at my house yesterday was 15 cornishX, a silkie cross and my showgirl rooster. This morning 2 more cornishX were dead that weren't doing well yesterday. I make my own vanilla extract so I had just over half gallon. I used about 1 cup in a windex bottle and diluted with water to fill it. My silkie hen was at deaths door with blood pouring out all over her head last night so I soaked her with that mix and this morning she seems to be pretty close back to normal. We'll see how she does today. I misted all
    65+ chickens I have left with the vanilla mixture this morning and mixed up some permethrin and added some citronella oil and sprayed the coop and their run AND the horses with that this morning.
     
  9. Scooter2112

    Scooter2112 New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Jul 13, 2010
    moline
    I also use the Skin So Soft. Basically i have the wife spray my hand and then i wipe my hand all around the neck area and a strokle across the beak. Also lightly touch their waddles and the gland things on the side of their head. The gnats hide under the the gland things on the side. This stops them!! Also I spray the inside of the coop around the sleeping area. Fortunatley we have a pump/spray version of skin so soft. Who'da thunk Avon would save my chickens! I did see sores on the waddles. Hopefully they will survive!!
     
  10. TreeHugger

    TreeHugger Chillin' With My Peeps

    333
    1
    141
    Apr 7, 2008
    I lost five birds last year to gnats before I realized what was going on. I had tiki torches going in the run from sun up to sun down and sprayed bug spray around the run area in the mornings. I did notice that my frizzles had the biggest issues with gnats since the gnats could get between their feathers. Most of my birds are staying in the coop right now and the gnats seem to stay out of there.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by