Gnats are tiny, buzzing insects that can invade your home and garden and drive you crazy. Over time, they can damage your plants, fruit, and veggies, and even cause health problems.
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with gnats forever. In this blog, we’ll share some tips for getting rid of these annoying pests and reclaiming your space.
● Gnats are tiny, flying insects. They’re some of the most common household insects, and getting rid of them can be challenging.
● Gnats usually enter your home from outdoors and infest trash cans, rotting fruit, drains, and other moist areas where they can find food.
● If gnats have invaded your home, you can use several natural DIY and chemical methods to get rid of them.
● If your gnat infestation is severe, you may need the help of a professional exterminator to get rid of them.
First Things First: What are Gnats?
A gnat is any member of several species of small flies that live throughout North America.
Wondering where gnats lay eggs?
The answer is a little gross: they like to live, breed, and lay eggs in rotting organic matter like overripe fruit or the contents of a countertop compost bin.
While not all gnats are bad (some pollinate plants and help keep garden pests under control), the species above are annoying household pests you don’t want to share your indoor space with.
Why are There so Many Gnats in my House?
Before you can effectively treat gnats, you need to identify what type of gnat you’re dealing with.
One of the best ways to do this is to identify where you’re seeing them. Are the gnats near your sinks or bathtubs, or do you see them near houseplants in rooms with no sinks?
By identifying the gnats, you can choose the right type of treatment.
That said, all gnats need moisture to survive, so they’re most likely to invade your home in the warm summer months when they can set up shop in areas like the food disposal, kitchen drain, or inside your potted plants.
In fact, potted plants are some of the leading carriers for gnats, and the tiny pests often find their way indoors by hitching a ride on an infested houseplant.
Once they’re inside, gnats will seek out food sources.
They are particularly drawn to food spills, open or unsealed garbage cans, potted house plants, and overripe fruit and vegetables in a fruit bowl.
In ideal conditions, gnats can reproduce rapidly. Fruit flies, for example, can lay up to 500 eggs at once, which makes infestations very difficult to control.
What are the Signs of a Gnat Infestation?
Not sure you have gnats in your house? Look for these telltale signs:
1. Sick houseplants
Are your houseplants wilting, losing leaves, or turning yellow?
If so, it could signify a fungus gnat infestation in the soil.
When gnats set up shop in potted plants, they feed on the plants, stripping vital nutrients and causing plants to look sick.
2. Visible colonies of gnats
Do gnats fly out of your houseplants and buzz up from the soil surface when you water your pots?
Do you see large groups of gnats flying around your trash or fruit bowl?
Are small, buzzing insects flying out of your drain whenever you turn on the water? If so, you’ve likely got drain flies.
While it sounds simple, visible colonies of gnats are a surefire sign of an advanced gnat infestation.
3. Eggs in potted plants
Look at the soil of your potted plants. See a cream-colored layer on top?
If so, it could be gnat eggs.
In time, those eggs will hatch, leading to a new round of gnat infestations.
Once it begins, a gnat infestation can last as long as the conditions are warm enough and food is ample.
With that in mind, it’s essential to address the gnat infestation immediately and make a plan to exterminate the pests.
How to Get Rid of Gnats: 7 Effective Ways
Naturally with Home Remedies
Want gnats to buzz off? Try these innovative home remedies:
1. Build a DIY trap
DIY gnat traps are an easy, affordable, and effective way to catch and kill gnats. Here’s how to make one:
Place a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of sugar and a few drops of dish soap and stir the mixture well.
Set the homemade trap anywhere you’ve noticed gnats buzzing around, like near your potted plants or in the bathroom.
The smell of the sugar and vinegar will attract the gnats. The dish soap traps and drowns them when they climb into the liquid to enjoy a drink.
Alternatively, add some overripe fruit to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and punch some small holes in the wrap.
You can also use a bottle of wine with just the dredges left.
Pros: Easy, effective, affordable, non-toxic
Cons: Unsightly, pets and kids can disturb the trap, requires you to empty and refresh the trap every few days
2. Make a homemade gnat spray
While we don’t recommend using bug bombs, foggers, or whole-room pest sprays to get rid of gnats, you can eliminate the pests around your house by making a homemade gnat spray.
Just grab a small spray bottle and add one tablespoon of white vinegar and a few drops of dish soap.
Shake the solution up and spray it anywhere you’ve noticed gnats buzzing around.
Pros: Easy, effective, inexpensive, and safe for use in food areas.
Cons: Requires manual application
3. Stop overwatering plants
Gnats love moisture, and they’ll happily establish colonies in excessively moist houseplants.
With this in mind, stop overwatering plants and ensure indoor pots have good drainage. For best results, we recommend watering plants just once a week, if not less frequently.
If the gnat problem persists, use a gentle natural insecticide, like neem oil or diluted dish soap, onto the soil of your potted plants.
You can also use beneficial nematodes and other over-the-counter insecticide drenches to get rid of fungus gnats on plants.
Another tactic we’ve found effective is to place a ½” of sand (this soil cover sand is a great option) on top of your house plant soil. This creates a dry environment that won’t sustain fungus gnats.
For more information, check out our blog for top tips on how to get rid of fruit flies.
Pros: Effective at killing gnats and preventing reinfestation
4. Bleach your drains
Are there gnats buzzing around the drains in your kitchen sink or bathtub?
If so, use bleach to kill them. We recommend pouring a cup of bleach right down the drain to kill the gnats.
If you’d prefer to avoid bleach, you can use a solution of equal parts of salt, baking soda, and vinegar (at least ½ cup each).
Make sure to slowly pour the liquid down the drain and follow it with boiling water. If the gnats are in your garbage disposal, run the disposal while you add the hot water.
For more information, check out our comprehensive guide on this topic.
Pros: Kills gnats and gnat eggs instantly
Cons: Using bleach too frequently can be corrosive to drains
5. Use store-bought sticky traps
An easy, effective, and non-toxic way to kill gnats is with store-bought sticky traps like these.
Buy these grapes and place them anywhere you’ve noticed lots of gnat activity.
When the gnats land on the trap, they’ll get stuck and die.
The traps last a few months and are ideal for controlling gnats on or around potted plants.
Pros: Easy, effective, and safe for households with kids and pets
Cons: Can be unsightly
6. Use a bug zapper
A store-bought bug zapper like this one can be an effective gnat killer.
While these bug zappers are better suited for large insects like black flies, they’ll kill many gnats and allow you to control gnat populations while you attack them in other ways.
Pros: Kills adult gnats in large numbers, non-toxic
Cons: Will not kill gnat larvae or eggs.
With Chemical Methods
Want to get rid of gnats right away? Try this conventional methods:
7. Use aerosol insecticides
Aerosol insecticides that contain pyrethrins, resmethrin, tetramethrin, and d-trans allethrin will kill gnats and their eggs on contact.
While these sprays are effective, they should not be used on food or plants, as the chemicals are dangerous.
For best results, spray the insecticides every seven days for five weeks.
Wondering which product to use? We love Gentrol Aerosol Insect Growth Regulator, which offers quick knock-down for adult gnats, as well as their eggs and larvae.
Pros: Effective, fast-acting.
Cons: These products are highly toxic and are not approved for use around kids, pets, or food.
How do Pest Control Professionals Get Rid of Gnats?
If you work with a pest control professional, here’s the process you can expect them to follow to get rid of gnats:
Step 1: Inspection
Most pest control professionals start the process with an inspection. During this inspection, they’ll evaluate your property, identify the source and severity of the infestation, and discuss treatment options.
Step 2: Treatment
Next, the pest control team will deliver their chosen method of treatment.
Since gnats reproduce rapidly, most pest control experts use multi-step control methods to kill adult gnats, their eggs, and their larvae.
Step 3: Follow-up
Once the pest control experts have managed the gnat infestation, they’ll provide follow-up inspections and additional treatments as needed, depending on the severity of your original infestation.
How to Prevent Gnats in the House
Prevent future infestations with these simple steps:
- Clean up food and liquid spills promptly.
- Keep your indoor plants indoors. Taking them outside, even for a day, leaves them vulnerable to fungus gnats.
- Only use sterile potting soil for indoor plants – don’t ever use bags of soil that have been left sitting open outdoors.
- Keep your kitchen clean – use a vacuum to suck up food crumbs and spray countertops regularly.
- Place a ½” of sand on top of your house plant soil. This creates a dry environment that won’t sustain fungus gnats.
- Take out your trash nightly, and use a can with a locking lid to secure it until you change the bag.
- Water your household plants less often and ensure each pot has adequate drainage.
- Limit moisture in your home as much as possible. Fix existing plumbing leaks and install dehumidifiers in areas like the bathroom, basement, crawl space, or kitchen.
- Keep fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator or under a gnat screen instead of on the counter.
- Install screens on all of your windows and keep screen doors closed to prevent new gnats from getting into your home.
- Wash all dirty dishes promptly and avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink.
- Keep your drains active to prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for gnats! A few times a month, pour water down floor drains and sinks that are rarely used to keep the p-trap full.
Are Gnats Invading Your Home? We’re Here to Help
Are you sick of buzzing, annoying gnats? You don’t have to live with them forever.
If DIY options haven’t worked, or you just need extra help getting rid of gnats for good, professional pest control services could be the answer.
Contact us to reach a local exterminator that can help you get rid of gnats quickly and easily.
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Give us a call today to receive your free, no-obligation pest control quote.
Gnat Control FAQs
While a gnat bite won’t hurt, it can lead to various medical problems. In some cases, the transmission of infectious diseases via biting gnats is possible. Gnat bites can also cause anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.
While fruit flies and gnats are very similar in size, shape, and appearance, they’re from different families. While the fruit fly is a member of the Drosophilidae family, gnats come from families including Sciaridae, Anisopodidae, and Mycetophilidae.