Last year, an invasion of buffalo gnats killed hundreds of animals, and now there's concern of another outbreak this spring.

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11 listens and finds out if we can expect a large population of buffalo gnats this year.

Black flies, also known as buffalo gnats typically appear in late spring and early summer, but Kelly Loftin, extension entomologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture said they're already starting to emerge. 

"Talking to the county agents down in Arkansas County, what they've seen is worse than normal,” Loftin said. 

Last spring, Arkansas County saw a population explosion. 

“If you look at the conditions of the river and the temperatures, very similar to what occurred last year," Loftin said. 

Loftin said 2018 was the worst documented case since the 1930s. Buffalo gnats were blamed for the deaths of about 100 heads of livestock and at least 280 deer. 

"You get such tremendous numbers,” Loftin said, “and they have anticoagulants in their saliva that can cause a toxic reaction from that massive number of flies feeding and the animal goes into shock.” 

It's cause for concern, especially among cattlemen. One viewer wanted to know if there would a be a repeat of last year. 

"Since we're seeing populations a little bit higher than normal already, it could be a pretty bad year,” he said, “but we can't predict that it's going to be as intense as it was last year." 

Still, there is help for animals. Loftin suggests providing shelter or using short term insecticides or smokes if you're planning to be in area where they're prone to fly.

"Kind of have to use repellants and proper clothing, long sleeves, gloves, head necks even," Loftin said.

Loftin said he plans to keep a close watch over the next two weeks to determine if we'll see another outbreak.