How to Get Rid of Gnats in the House
March 27, 2023
By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS
Gnats are tiny flying insects that reproduce rapidly. There are many different species of gnats, but nearly all of them love living in moist environments, especially during warm weather. Find out more about gnats and how to address them in your home.
What attracts gnats to your house?
Like most pests, gnats are attracted by food, shelter, and water. These insects are also drawn to sweet smells like ripening fruits in bowls or sugary drinks and other sweet-smelling substances left on shelves or counters. Decomposing organic matter in trash cans, such as leftover food or vegetables, is also an attractive food source for these pests. Even bits of rotting food in your sink’s drain can draw gnats into your house.
Gnats are naturally attracted to anything with a sweet, fruity scent, including some cleaning and beauty products you have around the home—think of scented candles and body wash. After a while, fresh flowers in a vase will also bring gnats inside.
If your bathroom or kitchen tends to build up moisture, gnats can be drawn to those rooms for reproductive purposes. Leaky pipes, moist vents, and wet or dripping sinks satisfy their water needs. Overwatering your house plants also creates the perfect breeding ground for some gnats.
Types of indoor gnats
Gnat is a general name given to a species of fly in the suborder Nematocera. These insects are tiny, and most do not bite people. Hundreds of gnat species exist in North America, but only a few are common household pests.
Fruit gnats, commonly called fruit flies, are attracted to kitchens in the late summer or fall seasons when fresh fruits and vegetables ripen or ferment on tabletops. These tiny flies can also be a household issue all year long. Rotting fruit, like bananas or other types of produce that aren’t refrigerated, can become magnets.
Adult fruit gnats are about ⅛” long and typically have red eyes. The insects lay eggs on or close to the fermenting foods, resulting in tiny larvae feeding in the same area once they emerge. Female fruit gnats can lay as many as 500 eggs during their life cycle, which only lasts about seven days.
Although these pests are mainly drawn to rotting fruit and vegetable matter, they’ll reproduce in garbage disposals, drains, garbage bins, empty containers, and cleaning rags or mops. Fruit gnats don’t bite but can contaminate food with bacteria and other organisms that can cause disease.
Fungus gnats (pictured at the top of this post) are the most common type of indoor gnats to invade your home. The adult fungus gnat resembles a mosquito and grows to about ⅛ of an inch long, with light gray or clear-colored wings that have Y-shaped veins running through them. These insects are attracted to light, but they’re weak fliers. Instead of flying around the home, they tend to stay near potted plants and other damp areas where they lay their eggs. They eat fungi and decaying plant matter found mostly in the soil.
The fungus gnat is an irritating nuisance fly. Their life span is at most 10 days long, but a female can lay up to 200 eggs during that time. Fungus gnats can infest plants left outdoors in the summer. Once you bring your potted plants indoors as the weather gets chilly, you may notice a large population of tiny gnats which can become a nuisance. Many gnats in the soil can eventually damage or weaken the plant.
Drain gnats, also called drain flies or moth flies, are another type of gnat that enters your home in moist areas so they can lay their eggs and reproduce. The gnats are very small, just ⅙” long, with dense hair covering their bodies and wings. They can suddenly appear in your house in showers, bathtubs, drains, and sinks.
Although drain gnats don’t bite, people with bronchial asthma can be adversely affected by inhaling tiny pieces of them or their dust when they die, especially if there are many of them in the home. Drain gnats thrive in very dirty conditions, including sewers, so it’s possible they can transmit dangerous microbial infections to humans.
A midge is a tiny non-biting gnat resembling a mosquito. They fly together in swarms and are attracted to light and standing water. If your window or door screens have holes, midges can come into the house to lay eggs in moist areas. They’re also highly attracted to sweet foods and rotting trash.
How to get rid of gnats in the house
One way to help lessen the number of these insects invading your home is to create a natural gnat repellent for indoor use. You can mix a spray of vinegar and soap with a few spoonfuls of sugar as an attractant to drown some of the insects you can see. This homemade gnat spray is inexpensive to make, but gnats reproduce very quickly, and hundreds of tiny, nearly invisible eggs can still be waiting to hatch.
Gnats exist in every continent except Antarctica. These flies have slender wings and bodies ranging from brown and gray to red or black.
What are gnats?
Gnats are omnivore insects of the class Insecta and the order Diptera. Their gestation period is just one to two weeks long. Their predators include other insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, and birds.
Do gnats bite?
Most indoor gnats don’t bite, but some species do. The non-biting gnats are excellent pollinators, moving pollen from flowers to plants outdoors.
Do gnats spread diseases?
Gnats can spread disease. Conjunctivitis (pinkeye) is a common condition gnats transmit to humans.
Pest control services
The professionals at Hawx Pest Control work with you to address various pest infestations. We use the most up-to-date treatments and services to target pests and provide homeowners with methods to avoid future invasions. Contact our team today to schedule your free estimate.