Southern California residents are trying to swat away a pesky problem.
In the past few weeks, swarms of gnats and other tiny insects have been bugging people everywhere — from backyards to bedrooms and at morning and night.
Riverside resident Bonnie Walker said she can’t escape the nuisance whether she’s working in her garden, relaxing on the front porch or watching TV.
“They’re inside, they’re outside, they’re everywhere,” said Walker, who lives near Riverside City College. “I can’t get away from them.”
The invaders may be annoying, but officials say most — other than mosquitoes — are harmless. Heavy winter rains followed by warm spring weather created the perfect conditions for gnats, midges and non-biting insects that look like mosquitoes to thrive, said Levy Sun, spokesman for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.
Until the recent cooling trend, the agency was getting about two dozen calls a day from frantic residents worried that “these swarms of giant mosquitoes and insects are attacking them and taking over the land,” Sun said. “Mosquitoes don’t swarm and they are not giant in any regard, at least not the local ones.”
In many cases, what people think are mosquitoes are the much larger crane flies — harmless golden or brownish flying insects often seen flitting around porch lights, said Brian Reisinger, community outreach coordinator for the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, which serves about 630,000 residents in Chino, Chino Hills, Ontario, Montclair, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland.
“The rule of thumb is if it’s larger than a quarter, it’s most likely harmless and won’t bite,” Sun said. “If it’s smaller than a quarter and it’s biting, it’s most likely a mosquito.”
Sometimes called daddy long legs or mosquito hawks, crane flies don’t eat as adults. They have weak mouths and their main job is to mate and lay eggs in moist soil. Most live only a few days.
When people mow, trim bushes, or water their lawn or…