Gnat nuisance pesters
Maui residents

Recent heavy rains have created
ideal conditions for larvae

Associated Press

WAIKAPU, Hawaii >> Tiny dark-winged fungus gnats, capable of squeezing through window screens, have been an increasing nuisance in many areas of Maui, residents and officials said.

The pesky insects are similar to but not the same as the midges that have been periodic swarming pests around the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge.

While the midge breeds in the shallow waters of the pond, the dark-winged fungus gnat only needs a supply of decaying organic materials such as dying plants or rotting plant material.

Mach Fukada, a survey entomologist with the state, said the island's overall drought conditions, combined with recent heavy rains, have led to ideal conditions for dark-winged gnat larvae.

"The drought exasperated the whole thing," said Fukada, a specialist with the state Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Control Branch.

Fukada said he began getting complaints about the fungus gnats last November, when the first heavy rains began. Now he gets one to two calls a week about the pesky creatures from different parts of the island, including Lahaina and Makawao.

Although the gnats are a nuisance, officials say they do not pose a health risk.

"They are not harmful. They don't bite," said Ken Teramoto, bio-control section chief of the Plant Pest Control Branch.

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