Black Gnat Season

It’s been a wet spring, and I live in a town with streams, rivers and vernal pools, so much of the land is squishy, soggy and muddy. Ponds are full. On the plus side, the frogs are joyously making a racket, the birds are singing, and all around there are green things sprouting up. On the downside, the insects are coming out.

Thankfully, we don’t have the voracious and vicious black flies that are the scourge of northern New England. But, we do have biting black gnats. When I visit Tonka, he tips his head towards me so that I can rub his ears. He’s not a show horse, and so I leave his ears fuzzy. Still, a few gnats manage to bite and make him itchy and bloody.

horse ears


The gnats aren’t too bad in his paddock, but when I take Tonka out to graze, those insects swarm. To protect his ears, Tonka wears a little crocheted cap.



I think that he looks quite dashing in it. When we go for trail rides, he wears it under his bridle. I’ve seen photographs from a hundred years ago, when carriage horses wore hand-crocheted fly protectors, draped from ears to tail. Those fly scrims were elaborate, tasseled and white. However, I rather like the cheery blue.

crochet ears


Later on in the summer, when the deer flies come out (their bites are very painful), Tonka will wear a fly mask that will protect his eyes with a flexible screen. But, for now, this little cap does the job. At night, it’s still chilly enough that the gnats recede and so Tonka doesn’t have to wear anything. Which he prefers.

horse head


  1. I could use one of those myself here in TN. Black gnats always biting my ears.

  2. I love Tonka’s new crocheted cap. I saw them in the Vermont Horse Store from your earlier blog, and couldn’t for the life of me envision how they would look a real horse. Now I know. Very Nice. You can tell I know absolutely nothing about horses, so I really enjoy your Tonka tales!

  3. teri – try plain vanilla – but real vanilla on him.
    works wonders on wisconsin gnats

  4. I think he looks dashing! I bet he thanks you under his breathe when the other horses aren’t around.

  5. He’s most beautiful all by himself, but, if it protects him, I’ll learn to love it.

  6. My horses AND the llama already have fly masks on. I am worried about the summer and what it will be like. The flies are bad already. My llama has not spoken to me for 4 days. He is truly miffed that I stuck that thing on his face.

  7. He looks so Regal in his New Head Gear!! He (as well as the Chicken Ladies) are so well loved and tended too.

  8. This post and the responses had me laughing out loud. I think I will knit a couple of those caps for my dogs. Wonder how long they will stay on lol!

  9. Sorry Tonka…But the pics have me laughing too. I can tell his kind eyes look more resigned to looking like the guy at the party wearing a lampshade then dignified as in the bottom pic.

  10. I bet deep down he feels like a small child that is forced to wear rubber boots to school when it rains. OOOOHHHH mom really!!!!!! ;-)

    Love the photo.

    INSECTS!!!! I thought with the brutally cold winter we had the insect population would be low this year but it seems it is going to be a bad spring and summer. The ticks here are absolutely horrible!!!!

  11. That’s so beautiful Terry! LOVE LOVE LOVE it! He looks very fab! Have you seen those super cute crocheted spare tire covers?

    • Have not seen the crocheted tire covers, but am not surprised to hear about them. Knitting and crocheting is very trendy.