Outdoor PestsGnats

How To Keep Gnats Away From Chickens

Dark Winged Fungus Gnat Sciaridae

Spring is always pleasant and a season to enjoy suitable temperatures until some plaguey pests infest your home and chicken coop.

Nothing could be more frustrating than being assaulted by gnats. They are small but dangerous.

Gnats attack in masses. They bite and are ruthless. You can dispel them away, but your chickens cannot treat the gnats in the same way.

Thus the article will briefly discuss strategies you can opt for to keep gnats away from your chicken.


Diseases and dangers to your chicken could be from various sources, but gnats could share a significant part. They are tiny insects but can be as deadly for chickens as raccoons and foxes.

They bite chickens, limit their blood coagulation capability, cause allergic reactions, and sometimes lead to their suffocation.

The end of spring and the onset of summer are the best seasons for these black flies attacks.

Complete prevention from their assault is almost impossible. But there are a few measures you can take to keep them away from chickens. These measures include:

  • Use of natural herbs to limit their entry.
  • Use of sprays to stop their attack.
  • Measure to minimize chicken’s exposure to gnats.

Please read the full article for a comprehensive guide about their dangers and how to control them.

The further article will introduce gnats and how they harm chickens. Then we will briefly explain some strategies to keep gnats away from your chicken.

In the end, there will be a summary and frequently asked questions about gnats.

What Are Gnats?

Macro Image Darkwinged Fungus Gnat

These are flies that suck blood to feed themselves and nourish their eggs. They are also known as black flies, turkey gnats, and buffalo gnats. Despite their name, black flies could be of different colors.

Gnats attack in swarms and can be severe for all domestic animals, especially chickens.

They travel through freshwater streams. Therefore, areas within 10 miles of the river and other freshwater streams are more vulnerable to their attack.

Late summer and early spring is the best season for their breeding as well as for their attacks. A temperature between 50-60 F is most suitable for them.

Their attack usually lasts for the early three weeks of spring. Then, once the temperature starts increasing above 80 F, their numbers start fading.

How Are Gnats Harmful to Chickens?

Dark Gnats

Gnats assault in huge numbers. The attack could be a bomb on chicken coops, deteriorating their health and eventually leading to deaths.

They bite on exposed skin, including faces, wattles, and combs. However, the feather covers most body parts, but open vents could be problematic.

The extent of gnat’s potential health risks to chickens

An extension by Mississippi State University reports the death of poultry by the biting of black flies. Their saliva causes toxic syndromes like diseases and nuisance effects, eventually leading to chicken death.

Gnat’s attack results in chicken weight loss and heat stress as they quickly move around to brush off these insects. However, the gnat’s effects on the chicken can be divided into three domains that are:

1. Toxins

The gnats biting creates minor cuts in chicken skin. Then, the blood starts rinsing, and gnats feed on that blood.

The gnat saliva contains toxins that, when mixed with blood, cause allergic reactions, eventually leading to a possibility of anaphylactic shock and death.

The saliva also contains toxins that can cause Leucorytozoonosis. A situation that results in dehydration, convulsions, diarrhea, and convulsions.

This weakens the animal’s reproductive and immune systems making them vulnerable to other diseases.

2. Anticoagulants

Gnat bites release proteins called anticoagulants that prevent blood clotting. This ensures continuous blood flow for gnat feeds.

If many gnats are host to one chicken, hemorrhaging could be a possible result. Hemorrhaging is a condition in which excess blood loss occurs.

3. Suffocation

Gnats can sense carbon dioxide and are attracted to this. As a result, they cluster around the nostrils and block the air passage resulting in asphyxiation.

A condition in which animals became deprived of oxygen, leading to their death.

How To Keep Gnats Away From Chickens

Black flies breed on flowing water. This makes their control more challenging than other flying insects like mosquitos which breed on stagnant waters.

The running streams are often far from chicken coops which adds to the difficulty of limiting them.

However, various techniques can be practiced to keep gnats away from chickens. Some of the most effective methods include:

1. Using Natural Herbs

French Marigold Background Orange Floral

Herbs with solid aromas have a great tendency to repel insects. Some of the most effective herbs against black flies include lemon grass, lavender, marigold, mint, and nasturtium.


It could be a little surprising, but lemongrass repels gnats effectively. In addition, lemongrass has citral and geranyl acetate chemicals, which can help keep your chicken gnat free.

Hens sit still while laying eggs. This makes them easy for gnats to pester them. Lemon grass repels all flying insects and provides additional protection.


Lavender is often known for its soothing and relaxing effects. This herb boosts your chicken’s blood circulation, makes them comfortable, and repels black flies effectively.


Marigolds are excellent at driving off insects. You can keep them in your nest boxes to repel insects. They are also beneficial for chickens as they boost egg quality and good health.


The highly aromatic mint is an easy-to-grow herb and highly effective for driving away gnats. They are also efficient against rodents and boost chicken’s immunity against diseases.


Nasturtium is good at repelling gnats. It is a multi-purpose herb. Its pretty flowers increase your farm’s beauty and act as an egg-laying stimulant.

2. Using Sprays

Man Chooses Buys Chemical Products

Spraying is an effective method to keep gnats away from chickens. However various solutions can be sprayed for this purpose, but experts recommend using vanilla extract and permethrin.


Using permethrin at 13.3% is an easy and effective way to drive away gnats. You can use 1oz in one gallon of water to make a solution.

Permethrin is a product of the chrysanthemum flower. It is also effective in limiting mites.

Precautions while spraying permethrin

While spraying the coop with permethrin, get your chickens out until the solution completely dries up.

Permethrin comes in various percentages. Make sure to check the percentage before using it. The low percentage of permethrin can also be sprayed directly on chickens.

Vanilla Extracts

If you want to opt for a more natural remedy, the vanilla fragrance is an excellent deterrent against black flies. You can use vanilla air freshers or vanilla extracts to make a solution.

That solution can be directly sprayed on chickens.

Other Methods To Keep Gnats Away From Chickens

Beautiful Wooden Chicken Coop House

Since natural herbs and sprays are effective in keeping gnats away from chickens, depending on the nature of the gnats, other excellent measures can also be practiced in achieving this goal.

These measures include:

1. Using Fans

Gnats are allergic to moving air. As a result, their populations significantly decrease in windy atmospheres. So adding fans to your coops is a good idea against deterring gnats.

Install fine mesh windows to curtail their entry inside the coop further.

2. Keep Your Chickens Inside the Coop

Gnats do not like the dark. Their activity is maximum during daylight. So keep your chickens in the dark coops to further stop the gnat’s entry.


Gnat attacks are severe and can pose serious threats to your chickens, sometimes even leading to death. In addition, they can induce diseases, affect reproductive and immune systems, and decrease chickens’ egg-laying capacity.

They also make chickens more vulnerable to other diseases. This makes it necessary to keep your chickens away from gnats.

However, they are small insects, so banning their entry is impossible. So a combination of well-managed approaches can cultivate the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Spray in My Chicken Coop for Gnats?

Various spray solutions are available for this purpose. However, natural oil and vinegar solutions could be effective for a temporary approach.

However, natural remedies, including highly aromatic herbs like mint, lavender, and vanilla, could be best to spray in coops against gnats.

Can You Put Fly Spray on Chickens?

Fly sprays include permethrin as their active agent. There are various percentages of permethrin available. A high percentage could be harmful in the case of direct spray. In comparison, low percentages could be sprayed directly on chickens.

How To Keep Gnats Away

Multiple approaches, like using natural herbs, sprays, dark coops, and fans, could be fruitful for this purpose.

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