How To Get Rid of Gnats: The Ultimate Guide
A gnat infestation is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. These biting little pests are the bane of any household, and getting rid of them can be tricky. Thankfully, there are a number of methods you can employ to keep these unwanted insects away from your property. Here’s everything you need to know about getting rid of gnats.
To get rid of gnats, you can create a trap using just apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and hot water. You'll also want to avoid creating a hospitable environment for them by not leaving food out, dehumidifying your home, and not overwatering your plants.
Published: October 29, 2022.
Now that you understand the basic approach to handling gnats on your property, the rest of this article will take a deeper dive into what attracts gnats, how to repel them, and what you can do to keep them away.
What Attracts Gnats?
Tiny flies are a nuisance to deal with around your home, but whether you realize it or not, there may be something you’re doing that’s drawing them right to you.
Just a few of these little gnats can quickly become a giant problem. Gnats are attracted to the following:
- Organic matter
- Sweet scents
- Body heat
As it turns out, the reason that gnats seem to constantly be bothering you specifically might be down to rotting fruit in your yard, a flower garden, or other poignant personal hygiene items like soap, perfume, hair spray, and lotions.
Similarly, just the smell of your laundry detergent can cause them to pester you more than normal.
What is the Difference Between a Gnat and a Mosquito
While both gnats and mosquitos are quite annoying insects that can be quite boring and irritating, they do differ in a few details.
When a gnat lands on the skin, it bites a hole in the skin, which then begin to bleed, providing a gnat an easy meal.
On the other hand, a mosquito has a needle-like trunk that pierces through the skin, providing mosquito access to blood.
- most mosquito species have stripes on their legs, wings, and/or abdomen,
- mosquito wings are more stretched out and elongated,
- when they land, gnats position their body parallel to the surface, while mosquitos raise their tails in the air, etc.
So, regardless of which flying insects, gnats or mosquitos, are annoying You, now You can tell them apart :)
Garden Conditions that Encourage Gnats
Unfortunately, one of the biggest draws for gnats (and other pests, too) is your garden, especially if you have lots of flowers, fruit trees, and vegetables. The smell of this organic matter is irresistible for gnats and will encourage them to stay and breed near your home.
An overwatered garden is an ideal environment for gnats since the moist soil not only gives them the water they need to live but the mold and fungus that form as a result are the feeding ground for gnat larvae.
Home Conditions that Encourage Gnats
A lot of the similar attractants that bring gnats into your garden will also bring them into your home. Overripe fruits and veggies are the most common cause, which might be why you often see gnats flitting around your trash can.
For both your indoor and outdoor garbage cans, make sure that the lid is tightly closed—sealed preferably—to prevent flies and other no-good insects from lingering around your place.
If you like to freshen up your home with flowers and indoor plants, then there’s also a good chance that they are contributing to the gnat problem.
Fungus gnats, in particular, will live and reproduce in your houseplant’s soil and eat the roots.
Since flies don’t live life very long, they reproduce often, which can leave you with a truly devastating gnat problem.
How to Deal with Gnats
There are a number of ways to deal with a gnat infestation, but it’s important that you absorb all of the prerequisite knowledge above.
Knowing what is drawing the gnats into your home is a good first step in understanding how to get rid of them.
You’re never going to DIY your way into killing every gnat in your yard to stop them from reproducing, so take some time to observe your home and garden to discover where the gnats tend to hang around. Once you’ve done that, you can launch your plan of attack.
Making Gnat Traps
There are a number of ways you can make your very own gnat trap, which will attract and kill gnats in a matter of minutes. The most popular way to do this is with apple cider vinegar.
Combine it with a few drops of dish soap and a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl to stir. The sugar attracts the flies, the dish soap prevents them from flying away, and the vinegar itself kills them thanks to its high acid content.
The hardest part in getting a gnat trap to be effective is finding the right place to put it. Make sure you scout around to see where the gnats are buzzing, and consider placing multiple traps for the best results.
Another popular trap involves taking dish soap, cider, and hot water and putting it in a glass. Combine your dish soap and apple cider until one-third full. Then, run the tap with boiling hot water and fill the glass so that a layer of bubbles forms over the top. This trap is irresistible to gnats, easy to set up, and sure to get results.
Or You can go for ready-made gnat traps.
Another method to handling your gnat troubles is simply filling a spray bottle with vinegar and a touch of dish soap and going around your house like an exterminator, taking out gnats as you see them.
This method will not help you if your gnat infestation is severe, but in some cases, it can help reduce their numbers to become more manageable.
Preventative Measures for Dealing with Gnats
One of the best ways you can get rid of gnats and stop them from paying you an unwanted visit is to evaluate why they are there in the first place.
Protect Your Plants
For example, if you observe that gnats are constantly hovering around your houseplants, then it’s quite likely that you are overwatering them and allowing the gnats to feed on the excess moisture.
Treating this is pretty simple: just take a gentle insecticide and spray it onto the plant, making sure to follow the instructions on the label. Not only does this kill the gnats currently residing in your soil, but it discourages other gnats from using that houseplant as a home.
There are preventative measures you can take to protect your plants from gnats, but the most important step is not overwatering your plants and thus creating an ideal environment for gnats to lay their eggs.
Overwatering can also lead to the dreaded root rot, so it’s definitely better to keep your plants underwatered rather than overwatered.
Clean Out Your Drains
Your drains and garbage disposal are common places where gnats may gather to feast on overripe fruit. To avoid this, make sure you conduct maintenance on your pipes regularly to make sure there’s no food for the gnats to find.
If there is, they will keep coming. As a short-term solution to this problem, you can pour a solution of diluted bleach into your drains to kill off any gnats you see.
Clean Up Extra Food
In a similar vein, gnats will be attracted to any food that you leave out. After all, it’s a free meal in their eyes.
Avoid leaving plates by the sink, especially if you’re already having gnat problems inside your home. Leaving food out will only encourage more gnats into your home and can potentially attract other, larger creepy crawlies that you don’t want as well.
This principle also applies to food outdoors. Be honest. You rarely tend to clean up that barbeque right away. There’s always that half-finished beer bottle left out on the patio after everyone has gone home.
Well, the sugars in that drink and the leftover food are a surefire way to encourage gnats to visit for a party of their own. As such, you should always clean up food or drink spills shortly after they happen to prevent gnats from being attracted to your home.
Take Out the Trash
One of the biggest causes for gnats to pester you in and outside your home is trash. One man’s garbage is another gnat’s treasure in this case, and all that rotting food in your garbage can is not only a great food source for gnats, but it’s also a perfect environment for them to lay their eggs, exacerbating your gnat problems even more.
Take your trash out nightly and use a trash can with a seal. That prevents the smell of the trash from attracting unwanted guests while also preventing access to it entirely.
Clean Up After Your Pets
You’re probably well aware that your dog’s poop seems to be disgustingly appealing to flies of all kinds. That’s largely because the odor is also extremely strong and extremely attractive to them.
Flies can extract nutrients from an animal’s excrement, making it a useful food source for them, and they also rely on your dog’s poop to lay their eggs. As such, cleaning up after your pets right after they go removes that factor that may be attracting gnats.
Of course, picking up after your dog's poop isn’t going to be the deciding factor in making gnats leave you alone, but it’s one important step that can help make your home environment far less interesting for gnats.
Put Away Fruit
Fruit is a big attractant to, well, fruit flies, which is why you should never leave any out if you're in the midst of dealing with a gnat problem.
Fruit, especially overripe fruit, smells delicious to flies and will bring them in from all over. We all have a tendency to leave fruit on the counter, but it’s usually best to put it in the fridge to reduce the risk of gnats being attracted to it.
Reduce Your Humidity
Another major factor that draws gnats in is the humidity in your home. Whether you’ve got a faulty AC unit, leaky pipes, rain gutter troubles, or just struggle with humidity in general, gnats are drawn in by the moisture in the air.
As such, to discourage gnats from hanging around, consider fixing any plumbing issues that are raising your humidity level or investing in a dehumidifier for your home.
It’s not going to solve the problem by itself, but it’s an important step to take in making your home a less appealing environment for bugs in general.
Get the Right Repellents
If your gnat problems seem to come and go with the seasons, then investing in some of the right plants can not only spice up your garden, but it can also repel those pesky gnats. Some common repellants for gnats include citronella, tagetes, nepeta cataria, rosemary, and pelargonium.
Just keep in mind that these plants aren’t akin to an invisible barrier that keeps gnats away; rather, they simply make your home environment a less pleasant place to hang around.
As part of a broader strategy to make your home less interesting and reduce the number of gnats with traps, adding a few of the right plants can help you get the job done.
Leave It to the Pros
For severe gnat infestations or pesky gnat problems that just won’t go away regardless of how many vinegar traps you lay out, it’s time to contact the professionals.
Sometimes, the root cause of a gnat problem goes beyond factors that you’re able to see, prompting the need for a certified pest control company to step in.
These companies are licensed to use stronger chemicals that can instantly wipe out hoards of gnats and have the expertise to get the job done. Whether it’s gnat larvae or a full-blown adult gnat infestation, you always have the option of customizing your treatment plan based on your needs at an affordable price.
Better yet, most pest control companies will let you know what you need to do in the future to reduce the risk of a gnat infestation sequel and can give you the resources to keep gnats away for good. When it comes down to it, spending money for your peace of mind is never a bad investment.
There are a number of ways to get rid of gnats, but what most articles won’t tell you is that it takes a multifaceted approach to eradicate gnats from your property.
Simply laying out a few traps will not be enough; you need to diagnose the root cause of the issue and remedy that in conjunction with your trapping efforts. Doing so will make your home less appealing to gnats.
To start tackling your gnat issues, don’t overwater your plants, clean up any ripe fruit left on the countertop, and dehumidify your living space. If the problem continues to worsen, contact your local certified pest control company.