If your neighborhood has been swarmed by tiny insects the past couple of weeks, don't feel singled out: they're everywhere. Tim Kohlhauff, Horticulture Coordinator for Master Gardeners, says the the gnats are smokey-winged ash aphids and they're making the annual pilgrimage to our area.
"What they're doing right now is they're looking for a mate," Kohlhauff says. "What they'll do is find the bark of an ash tree or something related to an ash tree. They land on there and it's kind of like a big singles bar. Then they lay their eggs in the nooks and crannies of the bark. Next year the little ones will come out and they'll get on the leaves of plants and they'll do damage, but the ones here don't do damage."
As for whether it's a bigger problem this year than last, Kohlhauff says, not really, though he added, "it does seem like we're having a good smokey-winged ash year, doesn't it?" Kohlhauff also says you shouldn't worry if your yard has been invaded by the aphids, they typically go away when the weather turns cold.