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Gnats are fast becoming Vicksburg’s sports villain

There are plenty of villains in the sports world. They’re the teams and personalities that are unlikable for one reason or another, like Duke, the New England Patriots, New York Yankees or NFL officials in New Orleans.
Here in Vicksburg, we’re quickly finding another one — gnats.

The tiny, biting bugs are swarming everywhere. They’re on the golf course. On the tennis court. Softball and baseball fields. Wherever good times outdoors are had. And, since we’re in those same places, they’re all up in our business.

Mosquitoes are painful. Gnats are sneaky and annoying. They fly around — and into — your eyes, nose and mouth. They bite you so gently you don’t realize until it’s too late that you’re covered in welts.

I think I’ve swallowed about a dozen gnats this week. They’re rich in protein, but empty calories. I think I’ll leave them for the birds and bats, who really need to step up their eating game.

There’s no escaping the gnats, either. I stopped the car for less than a minute Thursday morning, looked out the window and saw a couple dozen flitting around the door, begging me to come out and play.

Gnats are usually a late afternoon or evening annoyance. Lately, they’ve been working overtime to be available morning, noon and night. There’s probably a biological reason for this. Perhaps the wet winter and flooding made them more active, or it’s breeding season. Whatever it is, I can’t remember a time when they’ve been this numerous.

There are solutions to the gnat problem that are less satisfying than dropping napalm on everything. Various sprays and devices, like Thermacells and the appropriately named “Gnat Be Gone,” are said to be effective. Sales of Avon Skin So Soft are probably up 300 percent. Other cheap soaps and perfumes also work although, as one golfer this week put it, “They make you smell like a lady of the night.”

So the choice is to smell awful, futilely swat at them so much that we eventually give ourselves a black eye, or bathe in an electronic field. Humans are supposed to be the dominant species on the planet, and this is the best we can do?

Whenever the gnats buzz near my ear, I can hear their tiny, high-pitched buzz. After spending so much time around them, I’m learning to speak Gnat.
They’re saying, “Ha ha!”

It’s a gnat world, and we’re just living in it. Hopefully our new insect overlords will see fit to give it back to us before the end of summer.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor at The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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