Do You Live Above or Below Georgia’s ‘Gnat Line?’ Here’s What You Need to Know

Having lived near the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia my entire life, I’ve never given much thought to gnats. A seasonal nuisance, gnats are dealt with similar to the arrangement I have with yellow flies:  I swat, slap, spray, fan, wave, and complain. In short, I hope to eliminate a few of the bothersome pests before they carry me off. 

 Unfortunately, our sweltering summer months, sandy soil, and excessive rains serve as a welcome mat for gnats. They travel in moving gnat clouds, a pretty way of saying “swarming droves of gnats.”

When you live below the Georgia Gnat Line, gnat sightings such as these are inevitable. 

For the uninformed, please know that the Gnat Line does exist and roughly follows the Georgia Fall Line, that imaginary line from Columbus to Macon and Augusta. The Fall Line marks the end of red clay and the beginning of the sandy soil so beloved by gnats.

How do you determine your gnat tolerance?  It’s all about “where you’re from.” Your primary residence will affect your gnat rating. Now, do you live above or below the gnat line?

  •  If you sit on the porch, are you immediately swarmed by gnats?
  •  If you leave the back door open while bringing in the groceries, do gnats come into your home uninvited? 
  • Do you live south of Macon? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you definitely live below the Gnat Line, and your gnat rating is likely excellent. Congratulations! 

Folks who live above the Georgia Gnat Line have often mistaken a gnat for a flea, fruit fly, or “some kind of black bug.” Unfortunately, they do not have a proper understanding of these pesky insects, so their gnat tolerance may register as a low-level rating. 

Here are a few suggestions for folks from above the gnat line while visiting friends below the gnat line.

  1. Make a gnat trap.
    My husband creates a gnat trap made with apple cider vinegar. Mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a few drops of dish soap, and a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl.  After mixing, set the bowl where gnats seem most prevalent.  The sugar and vinegar attract the gnats. The soap traps the gnats causing them to drown eventually.  Simple, right?  Not for my husband.  Instead of making a few bowls for the house, he mixes it by the gallon and places the solution in large plastic hanging bags to eradicate the entire outdoors gnat population.
  2. Clean the drains.
    Another favorite is to pour diluted bleach down the drains. Undiluted vinegar also works.
  3. Crash and burn tactics.
    Partially fill a candle holder with water, light the candle, turn off the lights and watch your gnat friends swarm to the flame, where they will meet their demise.
  4. Avoidance.
    Local athletes swear by eating raw sweet onions like apples. I haven’t been able to get past the “like apples” part. And I’m pretty sure gnats chug insect repellant for fun.
  5. Grin and Bear It.
    Some days, I just grin and bear it without the grin. By grinning, you may inadvertently swallow a gnat, which is one gnat too many.

In the end, it’s probable that the most sensible approach if you have a lingering gnat infestation is to contact your pest control service to deal with these uninvited guests. Meanwhile, I’ll stick with the tried and true methods of swatting, fanning, spraying, waving, and complaining.