How To Get Rid of Gnats (A Quick Guide)

The term gnat is a loose definition for thousands of species of tiny flies. Scientists characterize this annoying pest as being mostly non-biting. Also, since you will usually only come across fungus gnats, this is the species we will refer to here.

You can get rid of gnats by utilizing several strategies. For example,  it's vital to eliminate attractants from your home, such as rotting fruit, standing water, and mold. Also, it's best to trap gnats while using commercial spray applications sparingly.

In this informative guide, you'll learn:

  • Gnat Basics
  • Signs & Causes of Gnat Infestations
  • Top 5 Ways To Get Rid of Gnats
  • Top Recommended Pest Control Companies for Gnats
  • How to Prevent Gnat Infestations
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Gnats
Gnat Control

If trying to exterminate gnats on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that can use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.

For Terminix quotes, you can reach them at 866-577-5051 or with this form.

For quotes from Orkin, call 866-701-4556, or fill out this form.

For a free quote from Aptive, call 855-521-7075 or visit the company's website.


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Gnat Basics

Gnats are tiny flying insects that infest indoor plants. They also make their home in rotten fruit and other areas suitable for laying their eggs.  

The developing larvae feed on the fungus. Then, as adults, they emerge and become nuisance pests since most types are attracted to human eye fluid. 

Life Cycle of the Gnat

There are four stages of life for the gnat:

  • Egg
  • Larva
  • Pupa
  • Adult

Females deposit their eggs in moist, decomposing soil to provide food for the larval stage. It takes approximately 14 days to develop from an egg to an adult. In addition, warm weather tends to speed up the cycle. 

The total lifespan depends on the species. However, it usually lasts from 7 to 14 days.  

Identification

Adult gnats are dark-colored, flying insects that are about 1/16 to 1/8 inch long. Their wings have Y-shaped veins that are dark grey to clear. 

The average observer often mistakes fruit flies for gnats. However, gnats have long antennae, whereas fruit flies do not. They also have long legs similar to mosquitoes. 

Since gnats are not good flyers, they tend to remain near potted soil. You can distinguish the larvae by their shiny appearance. Also, they leave small slime trails in the moist soil. 

Swarming Behavior

Adult gnat swarms are called clouds and are primarily for reproduction. Adult males swarm during the spring and summer months. After mating, females lay their eggs in large numbers. 

Gnats are attracted to various light sources around your home. And they tend to infest potted plants, rotten food, and areas where water leaks typically occur. 

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Signs and Causes of Gnat Infestation

Aside from seeing gnats flying around and annoying you, there are other ways to tell if you have a problem. For example, look closely at your indoor plants. Here are some of the symptoms of plant damage caused by gnats: 

  • Wilting leaves
  • Slowed growth
  • Yellowing of all areas
  • Overall loss of health 

The following types of plants are especially vulnerable to these symptoms: 

  • Poinsettias
  • African violets
  • Carnations
  • Geraniums 

Causes of Gnat Infestations

There are several causes of increased gnat activity in the home. These are the most common ones:

  • Over-watering your plants. Gnats are attracted to moisture. Having excess water for your plants can cause infestations. Also, be sure to check for leaky plumbing and any puddles that have built up around your home over time. 
  • Food left out. It only takes a few minutes for gnats to detect food. That's why it's crucial to keep kitchen and food areas clean, especially during the summer months.
  • Decaying plants. Root rot and decaying leaves are a magnet for gnats. They feed off of these substances as well as mold and other rotting organic material. 
  • Uncovered trash areas. Trash cans left open are a gnat's paradise. Add to the decaying garbage some spilled soda, and you have a perfect breeding area for them. 

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Top 5 Ways To Get Rid of Gnats 

There are many ways to get rid of gnats. Some involve the use of sprays and traps. However, it's best to take a holistic approach that includes sanitation measures and some old-fashioned home remedies. 

1. Eliminate food sources 

Gnats eat foods like rotting fruits and vegetables. So, it's best to eliminate these food sources around your home as much as possible. Here are some basic steps to take:

  • Remove rotting bananas and other overripe fruits from counters and tabletops
  • Transfer boxed fruit into sealed containers 
  • Vegetables should be washed, drained, and stored in the refrigerator
  • Fruit juice spills should be cleaned immediately
  • Seal trash cans to ensure gnats are kept out
  • Remove leaves, mulch, and decomposing grass from the yard
  • Fix leaks around your home to avoid sources of standing water
  • Avoid over-watering plants and outside lawn areas

2. Re-pot your houseplants

Gnats are attracted to rotting soil complete with mold and fungal spores. So, the best way to get rid of gnats is by changing the potting soil

However, be careful what you use for your potting media. For example, avoid using decomposing grass clippings, mulch, and other organic matter. These uncomposted materials are typically infested with gnats. 

Instead, it's best to use a potting mix that allows the water to drain properly. Also, it should contain a natural blend to help foster proper root development and provide aeration. 

Be sure to dispose of the old potting media outside in a separate, sealed container. This added step will help to lower the risk of infesting other plants. However, in extreme cases, your plant may be so overrun with gnats that you may want to throw it out.  

3. Clean the sink drains

Drains are a paradise for gnats. They have the perfect combination of food, water, and protection from predators. Simply put, gnats and drain flies thrive in these areas.

To eliminate these annoying pests, use a lipase enzyme drain cleaner to remove grease and break down food particles in your drains. You can also use a small amount of bleach. However, be careful not to let it sit in the pipes for more than 15 minutes before flushing. 

4. Utilize traps to keep gnats away 

Several traps are available, including commercial and DIY varieties. Here, we list the most popular ones and show you how to use them.

Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

Combine a half cup of warm water in a small bowl,  a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Be sure to leave the trap where you see gnats the most. They will be lured into the mixture and get stuck due to the stickiness of the dish soap.  

Red Wine Trap

Another easy way to get rid of the gnat problem in your home is with a wine trap. But it's best to use expired, discarded wine since gnats will be more drawn to it. 

Start by pouring the wine into a small bowl. Now, mix in some dish soap. This trap works similarly to the apple cider vinegar trap. 

Fruit Trap

Use a large glass bowl for this one. Throw in some overripe bananas. Next, cover with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band. Then, use a toothpick to poke some tiny holes in the plastic wrap. 

When the gnats smell the pungent odor of the bananas, they will climb in through the small holes. And since they are not good at flying, they will not be able to find their way out. 

Candle Trap

Fill an 8" cake pan with water. Add a few drops of dish soap and mix well. Set a candle in the middle and light it.

Gnats and other flying insects are drawn to the light and water. After they land, they get caught up in the soap and can't get out. 

Fly Traps

Most fly traps amount to some variation of a glue trap attached to a string. However, some of the better ones come with an attractant. Also, you can connect some flypaper to about 12 inches of string and secure it next to a door or window.     

Yellow Sticky Traps

The color yellow attracts gnats and other flying insects the best. For that reason, yellow sticky traps are ideal for catching them. Just set one up where gnats bother you the most and let the trap do all the work. 

5. Outdoor spray treatments

Concentrated sprays work well for outdoor control of gnats, mosquitoes, and ticks. However, they're not premixed, so you will have to invest in a garden sprayer. Also, be sure to read the label directions carefully to avoid damaging plants or ornamental flower gardens. 

Spray or fog outdoor areas where there is heavy vegetation. Also, treat sections of the yard where heavy watering occurs. Finally, be sure to spray the outside of your home, paying special attention to windows and doors. 

It's also vital to utilize insect growth regulators to provide long-term control. They disrupt the lifecycle of most insects. And they are often included with spray concentrates. 

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Top Recommended Pest Control Companies

The majority of pest control operators do not have stand-alone gnat services available. However, if you are having trouble with gnats, you probably battle flies and mosquitoes as well. So, your technician will likely spray for both along with other pests. 

Here are three of the best companies to help you with your gnat problem:   

  • Terminix fights gnats and other flying insects by first looking at the earliest signs of problems. While educating homeowners on prevention over treatment, the technician can help the homeowner save a lot of time and money. Also, Terminix is licensed, bonded, and insured in every state it has its offices. 
  • Aptive Environmental started in 2015 as the new kid on the block. Since then, it's built up a loyal following of satisfied customers. Its flying insect control program includes residual spray applications along with non-chemical methods. 
  • Orkin makes use of over 100 years of industry experience by putting customers first. It trains its technicians to utilize the best, most advanced techniques for flying insect control while protecting the environment. Orkin also offers a 30-day guarantee on all its services.  

When looking for a pest control provider, it's best to ask friends and neighbors who they use. Also, be sure to consult online review sites to determine which ones have the best service. Finally, make sure the company you choose is licensed and insured within your local area.  

How to Prevent Gnat Infestations 

Preventing gnats and other pests is easy. Here are four tips to help keep these annoying little critters away from you. 

Incorporate a Plant Watering Schedule

Some plant owners don't like to set up watering schedules. It feels too stringent. However, when done correctly, it can save your plants from over-watering. That means they can provide less of a target for gnats, fungus, and mold. 

Consider Using Fungicides

There are many varieties of sprays you can use to keep that powdery mildew off your plants. Also, you can find a combination of fungicide and pesticide treatments in one bottle. Just be sure to read the label carefully to ensure it's safe for your plants, even if it uses natural ingredients. 

Set Your Sprinkler on a Timer

Overwatering your lawn can lead to puddles and are perfect breeding areas for gnats and mosquitoes. By setting your sprinkler system on a timer, you cut down on stagnant water traps around your home. And you can also cut down on your water bill as well. 

Avoid Overbuying Fruits and Vegetables

It's preferable to buy only the amount of fruits you'll need, especially during the hot summer months. Fruit rot is one of the main attractants for gnats. So, it's best to keep fruit from spoiling by not having too much on hand at one time. 

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FAQs About Gnats 

Do gnats bite?

Fungus gnats do not bite. This is because they do not contain the mouthparts to enable them to perform this task. And they are adapted to eat only decaying fruit and do not require a blood meal to reproduce. 

However, biting midges are similar to gnats and are capable of biting people. And they are sometimes referred to as no-see-ums, sand gnats, and punkies. 

Also, they are ordinarily grey. However, after taking a blood meal, these tiny insects turn bright red. 

Are gnats harmful to humans?

Biting midges may be harmful to humans since they can become disease vectors. Although not as common, they can carry diseases such as Zika and West Nile viruses. The fact that biting midges are often overlooked during an outbreak does not make them any less important. 

How long does it take to get rid of gnats?

If you do it right, you can get rid of fungus gnats in your home almost instantly. That's because, unlike flees, gnats are less able to adapt to certain conditions. So, in most cases, it's just a matter of limiting their environment.

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