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Picture this: You’ve enjoyed the comfort of your home in the springtime and haven’t seen any creepy-crawlies or flying insects inside since the start of the season. But then you left some ripe fruit out on your counter last week for a little too long, and now you have a growing gnat infestation on your hands.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of measures you can take before calling an exterminator to come out for a treatment. Keep reading to learn how to get rid of gnats with a few easy methods, as well as some tips on preventing them from coming back on your own or with a professional pest control company.
Common Types of Gnats
The term “gnat” represents a range of species of tiny, two-winged flying insects, meaning there are various types of gnats that infest homes throughout the United States. Here are four of the most common gnats you may be facing in your home:
- Fungus gnats. These gnats are commonly found in homes that have indoor potted houseplants. They typically infest potting mix or soil with any amount of decomposing organic matter. They don’t cause any damage to plants or people, but they can be a nuisance if not handled quickly.
- Drain flies. Also known as moth flies, these gnats are often fuzzy, gray, and look like tiny moths. They’re attracted to highly moist areas with organic, decaying solids, making your home’s drains their perfect environment.
- Fruit flies. These gnats are primarily attracted to ripe, decaying, or rotten fruit—hence their name—but can also be drawn to sweet, fermented liquids, such as beer and wine. The infestation of fruit flies can grow quickly, since eggs can hatch in as little as 24 to 30 hours.
- Midge. Recognizable by their long legs, these gnats are commonly found outside in yards near water areas and may make their way into your home if you’re not careful. They usually gather in large swarms in the spring and summer months and can be a nuisance buzzing around your property.
6 Ways to Eliminate Gnats
Here are six methods to try if you need to eliminate gnats in your home:
- Place Sticky Traps
- Trap Them With Apple Cider Vinegar
- Use Your Fresh Fruits or Red Wine
- Turn on Your Fan
- Clear Your Drains and Garbage Disposal
- Hire an Exterminator
Place Sticky Traps
As an easy first step to take care of your gnat problem, you can spend roughly $5 to $10 on sticky traps to place in areas you’ve seen the insects flying around. They typically can last for a few months and are baited with a solution that attracts the gnats then traps them with a sticky substance.
Trap Them With Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the most popular do-it-yourself (DIY) gnat removal methods is the homemade apple cider vinegar trap. It’s a simple strategy of attracting the gnats or fruit flies with food, then trapping them by blocking their exit with a paper cone or plastic wrap.
Here’s how it works:
- Fill a small glass, bowl, or jar with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a drop of liquid dish soap.
- Roll up a piece of paper into a cone shape and place it with the small part of the cone touching the bottom of the inside of the container.
- Alternatively, you can put plastic wrap over the top of the container and poke a few holes with a toothpick.
- Gnats attracted to the sweet solution will enter through the side of the cone or the holes in the plastic wrap, and they won’t be able to escape.
- Change out the solution every day or two to maintain its potency.
Use Your Fresh Fruits or Red Wine
If your kitchen becomes infested with gnats because of fresh fruit sitting out, you can use that fruit to get rid of fruit flies. Rather than making a trap with apple cider vinegar, as described in the previous section, you can place bits of your overripe fruit in a small glass, bowl, or jar. Cover the container with plastic wrap and poke small holes into the plastic with a toothpick.
You can also attract fruit flies with red wine and a couple drops of dish soap in a glass or jar. The dish soap separates from the wine, so whenever a gnat lands on the solution, it sinks and drowns.
Turn on Your Fan
Once you see a few gnats flying around your home, you could try adding more air flow to discourage them from sticking around. This is a great strategy to try before investing in traps or attempting other DIY methods, since it’s as simple as flipping a switch. Because gnats have small wings, they’re generally weak flyers and typically avoid windy environments or areas with a lot of air movement.
Clear Your Drains and Garbage Disposal
If you’re noticing gnats with fuzzy complexions and grayish colors, you probably have a drain fly infestation. Gnats and larvae usually nest in and feed on the moist, decomposing materials in your drain. The best way to eliminate these invaders is a deep cleanse of any sink drains that could be housing the drain flies. You can mix your own solution or purchase one to pour down the drain in your attempt to rinse out their home.
Here are some solutions to try:
- Boiled water poured in your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or showers once or twice a week until the issue subsides
- A combination of a half cup of salt, a half cup of baking soda, and a half cup of vinegar poured slowly down the sink drain, then rinsed with boiling water
- A cup of diluted bleach poured directly into the drain
Hire an Exterminator
If you try these methods and can’t fully eradicate your gnat problem, you may need to call a top professional pest control company to help, such as Terminix or Orkin. Their general pest control plans typically cover gnat infestations and can also help prevent invasions from a wide range of other pests, such as cockroaches, ants, and rodents.
A technician will come out to your property, inspect the gnats’ nesting areas, plus the rest of the interior and exterior of your property, and perform a comprehensive initial treatment for the gnats and other common household pests. Then, you can set up quarterly or bi-monthly scheduled treatments to continually prevent any issues in the future.
Tips for Preventing Gnats
Now that you’ve solved your gnat problem, you should follow these four best practices for preventing them from returning. These tips to remove pests’ food sources can help you keep your home free of other types of pests as well, such as cockroaches, house flies, and ants.
- Clean your dirty dishes right after eating. Your food waste can attract gnats, since it’s a form of decaying matter. Even if you left your plates out for only the night after eating dinner, you could already have gnats laying eggs on the leftover food. It’s best to give them a scrub with water and dish soap before going to bed.
- Tie off your trash and take it out regularly. Food waste that collects in your trash can also make an ideal breeding ground for gnats. If your trash is close to being full, it’s worth taking it out, rather than letting it overfill. If it’s not quite ready to go to the dumpster, you can tie it off overnight to minimize oxygen inside the bag and discourage pests from nesting in it.
- Give your houseplants new soil. Changing the soil in your potted plants regularly can make a huge impact on preventing fungus gnats, since they’re attracted to the decomposing materials in your potting soil mixture. Avoiding overwatering can also help prevent gnats that are attracted to the moist soil.
- Don’t leave your produce out. Putting your fresh fruits and vegetables in your fridge can help minimize fruit flies infesting your home. Even if your fruit hasn’t started decaying yet, it can still attract fruit flies, which can reproduce quickly and become a serious nuisance in your kitchen.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes your house to have gnats?
The cause of your gnat problem can vary depending on the type of gnat invading your home. Since fungus gnats typically live and breed in your indoor plants’ potted soil, too much moisture and organic matter in the soil is likely the cause. On the other hand, fruit flies are drawn to decaying fruits, so the bananas sitting on your counter or the bowl of apples on your table could be the cause of that issue.Drain flies are another common type of gnat in homes across the country, and they live and breed in the organic matter in your drain. If you haven’t cleaned your drains in a while and notice some fuzzy gnats that look like tiny moths, you likely have a drain fly issue.
Do gnats go away on their own?
No, it’s unlikely that gnats will go away on their own once they start reproducing. You will need to take proper measures to get rid of them, such as putting away your fruits, flushing out your drains, or changing the soil in your indoor plants’ pots.
Do house gnats bite?
No, most common house gnats don’t bite or cause any harm to your home. However, if you live near sitting water or in a generally moist environment, you may have issues with biting midges or no-see-ums on your property, gnats which can bite your skin and leave small, itchy bumps, similar to mosquito bites.
Where do gnats lay eggs?
Adult gnats usually lay eggs in organic material, depending on the species. For instance, while fungus gnats typically nest in decomposing matter in potted soil, fruit flies look for ripe or decaying fruits sitting out in open air to lay their eggs.
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