Old English gnæt "gnat, midge, small flying insect," earlier gneat, from Proto-Germanic *gnattaz (source also of Low German gnatte, German Gnitze); perhaps literally "biting insect" and related to gnaw.
The gnatte is a litil fflye, and hatte culex he soukeþ blood and haþ in his mouþ a pipe, as hit were a pricke. And is a-countid a-mong volatiles and greueþ slepinge men wiþ noyse & wiþ bytinge and wakeþ hem of here reste. [Bartholomew Glanville, "De proprietatibus rerum," c. 1240, translated by John of Trevisa c. 1398 ]
Gnat-catcher, insectivorous bird of the U.S. woodlands, is from 1823.