Do you have gnats? Are you looking for the best gnat killer? Well, you’ll appreciate this guide on how to get rid of gnats as soon as possible. Hang in there, follow our tips and soon your gnats will be just a memory.
How annoying is it when you grab for an apple from the fruit bowl on the counter or throw something in the garbage can and suddenly tiny little bugs emerge out of nowhere! Gnats can be really bothersome and can potentially cause problems for your household. They’re a nuisance, but you can get rid of gnats in your home with some simple solutions.
Are Gnats and Fruit Flies the Same Thing?
The term ‘gnat’ is commonly used to describe various small, flying insects but they are not all alike. Many people use the term gnat and fruit fly interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. A gnat is smaller than a fruit fly and they’re not very good fliers. They are commonly seen at dusk flying in swarms in large fields, yards, or above streets. Some gnats can bite, while others are non-biting, depending on the particular species.
Gnats are typically drawn to plants as a primary food source and some species can actually be beneficial for pollinating plants. The kind you see in your home, however, are more likely fungus gnats which are not beneficial!
Some gnats can be very harmful. Female biting gnats feed on blood to obtain a source of protein for reproduction. These little buggers can carry diseases and bacteria which can spread to people and pets through their bites. A bite from a gnat is usually painful and often results in redness, swelling and itching at the site.
The two species of gnats that bite include the Buffalo gnat and the Sand gnat. Buffalo gnats have a humpbacked appearance and have black or grayish bodies. Sand gnats are lighter in color, yellowish or brown, and have hairy wings in a vertical shape.
Another species of gnat that can be harmful to humans are called Eye Gnats, or Grass flies. This species has a preference to areas with loose sandy soil, but can thrive in various conditions. They’re most well known for their attraction to secretions from the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth of humans and animals. This can lead to the spread of diseases that affect the eyes such as conjunctivitis as well as other transmitted diseases including streptococcal skin bacteria and rabies virus.
Fungus gnats are non-biting and are drawn to areas with high humidity and light. They like to lay their eggs in damp areas like the surface of wet soil and decaying plant material. Fungus gnats can be detrimental to plants by feeding on the roots and spreading plant diseases. Fungus gnats are not commonly seen flying around like other types of gnats. They stay low to the ground near house plants, soil, and around door frames or window seals.
Fungus gnats lay eggs which hatch within a few days. They like to feed on certain types of plants including vegetables and flowers such as alfalfa, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, soybeans, carnations, clovers, Easter lilies, geraniums, poinsettias, and other types of organic matter. If you have these particular plant types in your home you may be susceptible to an infestation under the right conditions. Don’t worry! If you do have an infestation you don’t have to sacrifice your beloved plants to get rid of gnats in and around your home.
One of the most easily recognizable signs that you have a gnat infestation is an otherwise healthy houseplant that begins showing signs of disease and wilting.
How to Get Rid of Gnats
Fungus gnats can infest your home, apartment, office, or commercial buildings. They can also be problematic for livestock owners. There are several different options available to get rid of gnats that are present. The problem with killing gnats lies in using harsh chemicals that can result in killing your houseplants, since they thrive in the moist soil. You can look to hire a professional pest control service or refer to the following DIY measures to safely and effectively eradicate the problem.
Destroy their Breeding Ground
A female gnat can lay anywhere from 150 to 400 eggs at a time which take approximately 10 days to develop into larvae! Traps are good and effective on gnats that have reached the adult stage, but the best way to eliminate them is by removing their breeding ground. The first step to getting a handle on the problem is to prevent future gnats from developing and emerging. Then you can take care of the adults.
Gnats prefer to lay their eggs in the soil of potted plants where the larvae can feed on the roots for nutrition. To kill the eggs without damaging the plant you’ll first need to remove any decaying plant material from the pot, including the top layer of soil. Allow the soil to dry up to 2 inches deep then prepare a mixture with the water you will use to water your plant using 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap and 1 teaspoon of white vinegar.
Avoid over watering your plant and repeat the process for every other time you water your plants. This mixture will gradually kill the eggs and larvae residing in the soil before they infest your home without harming the plant.
Make an Apple Cider Vinegar Trap
Once you’ve taken care of the source of their breeding, the next step is to trap and kill the adult gnats. The strong odor of apple cider vinegar makes an excellent attractant for gnats and other common household pests. Pour pure vinegar into a deep bowl and combine with approximately 5 drops of liquid dish soap. The soap will create a resistance that allows them to enter into the mixture but traps them from being able to fly out, causing them to drown. Be sure to place the bowl near house plants or anywhere you see gnats and flies. Replace periodically after a few days.
Use Borax Powder
If you have gnats near or around your trash can be sure to keep a tight lid and take out the garbage regularly. Clean your garbage cans twice a week and keep them clean and dry. Sprinkle borax powder inside the can. Borax powder has a composition that makes an excellent natural pesticide against many different types of common household flies. Unfortunately, borax powder can also be harmful to plants so don’t use them near your house plants or in your garden.
Disposable Gnat Traps
Commercial traps can be purchased from retailers and home improvement stores that attract and catch various types of common house flies. Some traps are composed of a sticky adhesive that is hung near areas where gnats and flies are frequently spotted. When they land or get stuck to the strip they become immobilized and eventually die. Some disposable fly trap types consist of a dormant attractant that you activate by filling with water. Similarly to the apple cider vinegar trap, the attractant draws gnats and flies to it and they become trapped to it.
Get Rid of Gnats in Your Garden
To get rid of gnats that may be affecting your garden, you’ll need a solution that is safe around plants. There are different solutions that are effective.
This solution for attracting and trapping eye gnats is best used outdoors because it can get really smelly. To make a trap for eye gnats you will need multiple 1 Liter bottles, a gallon container such as an empty milk jug, and 4 eggs (you might also need a funnel if using a gallon jug). Crack the eggs to add into the gallon container and fill the container with water.
Thoroughly mix the contents of the jug and pour solution into the liter bottles to approximately ¼ full. Cover and store the remaining solution in the gallon container in the refrigerator for future use. Punch approximately 5 -10 holes in the bottles (above the solution line so as not to leak) and hang the bottles in your garden about 3 to 5 feet from the ground.
In a matter of days you’ll discover loads of dead eye gnats trapped in the bottles. Check your bottles every week and change out the solution every 2 weeks to continue trapping the gnats. It may not look too pretty but it will keep your plants from the harmful effects that gnats can pose to them.
Some types of gnats are actually attracted to light. Many homeowners find great efficacy from UV light bug zappers to attract and kill common flies around their home. There are many different brands and styles of bug zappers that you can purchase and simply install to kill the little buggers. These lights can provide a more convenient solution with better coverage than DIY traps.
Natural Gnat Repellent
As previously mentioned, biting gnats can cause painful, itchy red bumps if you’re exposed to them. If you have an infestation of gnats around your home you can avoid getting bitten by using a repellent. One odor that gnats are definitely not attracted to it is the scent of vanilla. For an easy DIY gnat repellent use a sugarless pure vanilla extract (not imitation). Mix 10mL of the vanilla extract with 10mL of water and apply to exposed areas of the body using a cotton ball before you go out in the yard. You may want to test a small area of skin before applying liberally in case it irritates the skin or you have a sensitivity to the pure extract.
Another type of repellent that can be used against gnats and other common flies is one consisting of citronella oil. To make a citronella spray repellent you will need citronella oil, dish soap, and a spray bottle. Add 2 spoons of the citronella oil to 2 cups of water and add 3 to 6 drops of dish soap to the mixture. The soap helps to combine the oil and water.
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake to mix well. This repellent can be sprayed around your home indoors and outdoors to repel gnats without causing harm to pets, children, or plants. Just don’t use in combination with gnat traps as they will work against each other and won’t solve your gnat problem. It is best to use this repellent around your home to repel gnats and other common household nuisances once an infestation has been eradicated.
Keeping the Gnats Out
The best way to get rid of gnats is by not allowing them into your home in the first place. Keep doors and windows sealed to keep cover any cracks or gaps where they can enter from. Avoid and minimize potential sources that make excellent breeding grounds for them to thrive and procreate.
- Avoid over-watering your houseplants. If you have potted plants in or around your home, be sure to water moderately. Allow the soil to dry before adding more water to your plant.
- Do not leave dirty dishes and stagnant water in the kitchen sink. Moisture and decaying food are two biggest culprits that draw in common household nuisances so keep things tidy in the kitchen to avoid drawing them in.
- Clean out drains periodically so hair and food are not sitting in the pipes as this can also attract different species of gnats. Pour a diluted mixture of bleach down the drains to get further down the pipes and reduce the occurrence of drain gnats.
If you have house plants and experience a gnat problem you should change out the soil. Poor quality soil is an invitation for gnats to invade so it’s wise to invest in premium quality potting soil for your indoor plants. Also be sure the pots can drain properly so water isn’t sitting in stagnant for days.