VOLGOGRAD, Russia (Reuters) - Russia deployed a truck to spray roads with vanilla extract outside a World Cup fan zone and stadium on Friday to ward off swarms of gnats at soccer matches in Volgograd.
Volunteers in the southern Russian city also handed out insect repelling wipes to fans to help them fend off bugs that England and Tunisia players could be seen swatting away as they played their opening World Cup group game on Monday.
Russian authorities said on Thursday they hoped that spraying vanilla concentrate on trees and shrubs around the venue would keep the gnats at bay. On Friday, a flame-coloured truck sprayed a vanilla-based solution onto streets around the stadium from a row of sprinkler hoses.
Joseph Attueyi from Lagos who was in town to watch Nigeria’s match against Iceland was one of a number of fans wiping themselves with free repellent wipes handed out by volunteers.
“I heard about (the gnats) on the flight but I have not been bitten yet,” Attueyi said, adding that he had been lucky.
The area around Volgograd is known for its swamps and wide rivers, the perfect breeding ground for insects during the hot and dry summer in the region.
During the England game with Tunisia, players covered themselves with bug spray before the game and at halftime, but that seemed to do little to ward off the flies. By Thursday there appeared to be significantly fewer gnats in the city than during Monday’s match.
Reporting by William Schomberg; writing by Tom Balmforth