Gnat invasion presents threat to chickens, large livestock

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ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) - An invasion of gnats is presenting a risk to the health and lives of livestock in a southern Minnesota town.

The Mankato Free Press reports that gnats cause weight loss and stress for any animal with their bites and by gathering around eyes and in airways.

Brooke Knisley, who runs an organic produce farm with her husband in St. Peter, says one of her friends has lost 16 chickens to the gnats this year. Knisley says she's trying to reduce the risk for her own flock by running fans in the chicken coop, hanging fly strips and placing vanilla-soaked rags near where the gnats congregate.

Gnats are also an irritant for cattle and horses, and many owners are keeping their animals inside until the invasion passes.