The mere sight of gnats can be frustrating, to say nothing of when the little nuisances fly into your eyes or linger inside your home for hours. The wee flies often appear in groups of countless specimens. These masses of flying insects are frequently labeled either "ghosts" or "gnat clouds." Gnat sightings are especially abundant during the summer months.
What Gnat Clouds Are
If you notice a thick cloud of flying insects in the air as twilight draws to an end, you're probably looking at a bunch of mature gnats on the prowl for breeding partners. It's not uncommon for these gnat clouds to stay around for a few days at a time. They typically show up following lengthy spells of dampness. Gnats in general are often prevalent around forests and creeks. If you aren't sure that you can recognize gnats, remember they often resemble mosquitoes, although they're markedly smaller. The gnat universe consists of a large selection of species.
The Purpose of Gnat Clouds
Gnats don't gather together to annoy you, although it might seem that way sometimes. The whole process is related to courtship and breeding. Essentially, massive numbers of the males stay together in groups, hoping for females to arrive. The males engage in lots of conspicuous behaviors in hopes of impressing females. They frequently "fall" abruptly from the swarm as a means of getting females to notice them. As soon as a female makes an appearance, a male grabs her and mating commences.
Gnats and Teamwork
The formation of gnat clouds is beneficial for a major reason—high visibility. Gnats are minuscule creatures. If a single male gnat independently navigates his surroundings to find a partner, he sadly has a slim chance of success. If he's in the company of many others just like him, however, there's a pretty good chance the females will be able to track them down.
Irritation from Above
Gnat clouds are consistent in that they're always suspended directly above an object or individual, whether a person's head or high shrubs in a yard. They gravitate to things that are conspicuous and hard to miss. If something is pale against something a lot darker, you might just see a lot of gnats "clouding" around near it. Note that gnats are highly attracted to light. As a result, they're often seen close to well-lit areas, occasionally in peoples' homes. They're also frequently spotted close to establishments with external lighting.