- A single gnat flying around the house is a nuisance already, not to mention a gnat infestation in your home, a place where you eat, sleep, and relax.
- While rotting fruit is a common culprit of gnats inside your house, it’s not the only one. Trash bags with spoiled food, dirty dishes, stuffed garbage disposal, or even damp potting soil can cause gnats to get lured and feel comfortable in your house.
- How to put an end to this nightmare and get rid of gnats for good? Are there any home remedies to call it quits with a gnat population?
What are gnats?
Gnats are small, winged insects in the fly grouping.
Depending on the species, gnats may also be called midges, no-see-ums, punkies, moose flies, buffalo flies, and black flies.
Gnats bite around the face or on any area of exposed skin. To prevent bites, apply an insect repellent containing DEET to any exposed skin areas. For a natural alternative, use a product containing oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Contrary to popular belief, gnats aren’t baby mosquitos or baby flies; adult flies of this species are small.
If you have indoor houseplants, what flies around your potted plants are fungus gnats (fruit fly–sized insect pests).
Most species of gnats don’t carry diseases. However, a couple of species of these biting flies do. For example, the eye gnat has been linked to the transmission of pinkeye (conjunctivitis) in humans and livestock.
Important: Adult female gnats can lay even 300 eggs in their 10-day lifespan; therefore, the gnat infestation can spread rapidly. It’s vital to find an effective solution to get rid of gnats in your house.
What attracts gnats?
According to Home Depot, several factors attract gnats to our houses. Gnats can be lured by
- house plants,
- fresh flowers,
- unsealed produce,
- food spillage, and
- open or overflowing garbage cans (rotten fruits being among gnats’ favorite dishes);
Not to mention how often gnats choose to live in sink drains full of food residue. Dirty kitchen sink drains provide shelter, food, water, and breeding sites to many fly species.
Adult gnats lay eggs in rotting food (it can be, for example, an old rotten fruit), commonly also near indoor plants. Then, after some time, the eggs hatch into maggots (gnat larvae), which grow and mature similarly to all other flies.
Get rid of gnats
Having gnats inhabiting your household can become a major inconvenience.
Naturally, professional pest control is the most effective method. A professional pest control company will know what to do without a doubt.
Yet, good housekeeping practices are an undervalued and affordable way to tackle the problem and get rid of gnats.
Let’s see what you can do to prevent having these bugs onboard and how to act if they’ve already decided they like your place a little too much.
What can we do to make our place less inviting for pests like gnats?
For starters, get in the habit of cleaning up food and drinks after meals to make sure your house is free from bugs year-round.
Another efficient way to get rid of gnats is to throw out the trash regularly.
Gnats are very attracted to items in the trash. Gnats won’t be able to gather around it if you take out your trash nightly. When the garbage is still inside your house, use sealed trash to make it harder to access.
Don’t water your plants too often.
An overwatered plant creates the perfect environment for gnats to lay eggs. Change the soil in your indoor pots if fungus gnats are flying around.
Damp soil is a perfect breeding ground for a gnat infestation. Ensure your foliage is in a pot with a few small holes for drainage. Cut back on your watering schedule if you notice a few gnats buzzing around.
Tip: Check any new houseplants for gnats before bringing them home.
Put away fruit bowls, especially if there are any rotting fruits. Put fruit in the fridge—gnats are attracted mainly to the smell of fruit, so leaving their treat exposed on your kitchen counter will attract these small flies.
Tip: By removing rotting fruits, you also cut out the food supply of fruit flies.
If you decide to keep fruit bowls on the table, set up preventive yellow sticky traps near trouble areas (such as ripe fruit or houseplants).
One of the types of traditional sticky traps is ribbon fly paper. It has been a trusted way to catch and kill flying bugs, including gnats. Hang the sticky paper and wait for gnats to stick to the exposed adhesive.
Take care of the humidity inside and outside your house.
Repair plumbing leaks and sink drain stoppages, and clean up any damp areas around rain gutters and birdbaths.
Flush out your drains to get rid of drain flies (also called moth flies or sink flies).
Regular drain maintenance consists of using diluted bleach solution or a specialized cleaning solution.
Drain flies are about the same size as gnats and fruit flies (2-5mm). You can distinguish them by their small, moth-like wings and round, fuzzy bodies.
Avoid creating and maintaining bodies of water in your yard or house. If you have a gnats problem and want to get rid of them badly, stay away from swamps, ponds, marshes, and streams. Moist areas are gnats’ favorites.
To keep gnats out of your home, install window screens. Mesh screens in your windows and doors are sure to make it harder for gnats to get inside your house.
Use a ceiling or floor fan to keep gnats away.
Avoid using scented products inside the house. Shampoos and perfumes with strong odors may attract insects like gnats.
If you didn’t manage to prevent gnats from getting too cozy in your household, it’s time to learn how to kill them.
According to Bob Vila, the fastest way to attract and then kill gnats is to use a mixture of apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and dish soap.
- a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar,
- a few drops of dish soap, and
- a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl and stir;
Tip: Alternatively, use a mixture of red wine and dish soap. Simply pour a small amount of wine into a glass and add a dash of liquid soap. The gnats will fly right in and get stuck forever.
Now, you can set your bowl in an area where gnats are prevalent, such as your kitchen or bathroom. Bugs will be attracted to the scent and get in contact with the solution. As a result, they’ll get stuck inside and drown.
Otherwise, kill single gnats using a spray bottle filled with water, vinegar, and dish soap. Then, every time you see a gnat flying around, zap it in the air with a spritz.
Another clever tactic is to simply pour diluted bleach down the sink or tub drain if gnats keep hovering near plumbing fixtures.
To make sure you kill all the drain flies, pour one ½ cup of salt and one ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Then, pour one cup of white vinegar and allow the mixture to foam. Let it remain in the drain for at least two hours, then rinse the sink and drain using plenty of boiling water.
Another effective method? Mash rotten or overripe banana into a bowl, stretch plastic wrap over the top and poke holes in the plastic wrap. Gnats will wiggle through the tiny holes to get to the fruit, but the transparent cover will prevent them from flying back out.
In bathrooms, apple cider vinegar or wine may not be enough to handle the gnat problem. If you notice drain flies around your drain, take diluted bleach with water and pour it down the drain. Use one-half cup of bleach to one gallon of water.
Important: When you use bleach, wear protective gloves and a mask not to inhale the fumes.
You can also purchase a gnat trap, bug zapper, or create a DIY gnat trap to catch and kill the gnats in the house.
When it comes to the outdoor spaces of your house, like terraces and balconies, electric or flame torches can help repel gnats and other insects.
Another method to get rid of gnats is called a candle trap. Place a candle upright in a bowl or on a tray in the room where you came across these awful gnats. Pour a shallow pool of water into the bowl or tray. Add a few drops of dish soap to the water. When it gets dark outside, light the candle and turn off all the other lights in the room. It will attract the gnats to the light, which will make them either burn in the candle flame or fly into the flame’s reflection in the water and drown.
Important: Don’t leave your candle trap lit overnight or unattended.