Dealing with an infestation of gnats in your home, no matter how small the swarm is, can be the real bane of your existence. These tiny insects can cause you sleepless nights, especially when they fly up your nose and ears at night. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to eliminate gnats from your home. In this article, I will give you the top 12 effective tips on how to keep gnats away.
What Are Gnats?
Gnats are a group of different species of tiny insects in the dipteral suborder of Nematocera, particularly those in the families of Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae, and Sciaridae. Gnats can be both biting and non-biting, and most often fly in swarms, commonly referred to as clouds. These insects are typically small and slender, with long legs and antennae.
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Gnats can be yellowish, dark brown, or tan. They are weak fliers and are often seen at dusk, especially in wet humid, and moist weather. Therefore, expect to see them in large numbers during summer.
These tiny insects have a very short lifespan. In fact, they do not live long to feed. But unfortunately, they reproduce quickly. Therefore, a single swarm can quickly turn into thousands of annoying gnats in and around your house.
Different Types of Gnats
Although all gnats belong to the family of flies, not all flies are gnats. Here are the most common types of gnats.
1. Fungus Gnats
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Also referred to as winter gnats, fungus gnats are about 1/8 inch in size and black. However, their adults are grayish-black with long, see-through gray wings that have discernible veins. Their legs are also very long.
Fungus gnats feed on fungi and plant roots. They can live up to one month and lay about 300 eggs. Their eggs take only three days to hatch. Fungus gnats prefer to reproduce in warm weather.
2. Gall Gnats
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Gall gnats are tiny, delicate flies that resemble mosquitoes. But they don’t bite. They have multi-jointed antennae with whorls of hair. Their wings have one core cross-vein with several longitudinal veins.
Their body and wings have hair that rubs off easily. Gall gnats shoot up their larvae into plant saps for nourishment. This causes infections in plants resulting in abnormal growth. Their females lay up to 400 eggs, which hatch in 3 days.
3. Eye Gnats
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Also referred to as grass flies, eye gnats are tiny insects that normally gather around a person’s or animal’s nose, mouth, and eyes. The main reason why they are attracted to these parts of the body is that they love secretions coming from these areas. Because of their constant contact with these bodily secretions, gall gnats are known to transmit pink eye.
The lifespan of eye gnats varies with the available temperature, food, and moisture. But generally, the tiny insects live up to 28 days. Adult females feed on blood, sweat, secretions, and pus. They lay up to 400 eggs, which hatch in 3 days.
4. Buffalo Gnats
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Also known as black flies or turkey gnats, buffalo gnats can grow up to 1/8 inch long. They are very common in late spring or summer. Females feed on blood from people and animals while males feed on nectar.
These tiny insects are normally drawn to moving dark objects, carbon dioxide, and sweat. Buffalo gnats are either tan, green, or gray, and breed in fast-flowing rivers and streams. Their lifespan is 2-3 weeks.
What Attracts Gnats?
Gnats are attracted to humans and animals by scent, sweat, and other bodily secretions like pus and mucus. Some hygiene products that you use on a daily basis have scents that draw gnats and other types of insects to you. Body heat and moisture also play a role in attracting gnats.
Some species of gnats are attracted to people and animals due to the mucus found in the eyes, mouth, and nose. Furthermore, there are many household items that can attract gnats to your home. For instance, if you don’t store your fruits and vegetables in sealed containers, you are going to have gnats in your house.
Also, fresh flowers, houseplants, potted plants, unsealed garbage cans, sink drains, and spilled food will draw gnats to your house. You also need to store your apple cider vinegar and honey in sealed containers away from the reach of gnats.
Effective Tips on How to Keep Gnats Away
How to Get Rid of Gnats in the House
If you have a serious infestation of gnats in your house, there are many ways to get rid of them immediately.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Trap
With a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and sugar, you can make a perfect trap for gnats in your house. Just put a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and a few drops of dish soap in a bowl and stir the mixture thoroughly. Then, place the bowl in a place where the tiny insects are prevalent, such as the bathroom or kitchen. The sugar and apple cider vinegar will attract gnats into the bowl, and the dish soap will trap them, causing them to drown.
2. Fruit Trap
This is a very simple method of eliminating gnats in your house. You just need to put a rotting fruit in a jar and cover its top with a perforated plastic wrap. When the gnats enter the jar, they will get stuck inside.
3. Diluted Bleach
To get rid of gnats in your sink drains, you just need to pour a jug of diluted bleach down the drains. This bleach will suffocate and kill them instantly.
4. Candle Trap
To make this trap, you need to put a candle in a candlestick and fill its holder partially with water. Then light the candle and switch off your lights. Since gnats are attracted to light, they will gather around the candlelight and get burned or drop into the water and drown.
5. Professional Pest Control Services
If the home remedies are not working, you should hire professional pest control experts to deal with gnats in your house. These people have the needed expertise and equipment to eradicate the tiny insects immediately. For instance, they have products that can kill gnat larvae before they mature.
How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside the House
There are many ways of getting rid of both biting and non-biting gnats when you are outdoors.
6. Dry Out Moisture
Since most outdoor gnats breed in damp areas like rivers and water ponds, you need to dry out moist areas around your home, including potted plants, downspouts, roof gutters, areas near air conditioners where condensation leaves pools of water, thick mulch, garden debris, thick grass, and piles of composite.
7. Repair Leaky Pipes
Plumbing leaks cause pools of water and moisture to form outside your house, enabling gnats to thrive. Therefore, you should repair all leaky pipes and other plumbing fixtures around your house.
8. Clean Up
Do not allow fallen tree leaves, fruits, twigs, grass, and garbage to pile up in your backyard because they will attract gnats and other types of bugs. Keep your outdoors clean and properly manicured all the time. You also need to remove moist mulch from your backyard and cover your garbage cans to keep gnats away.
9. Exterior Lighting
If you have standard high voltage exterior bulbs, you need to replace them with low voltage bug bulbs that do not attract flying insects.
How to Get Rid of Gnats in Your Houseplants
Although houseplants bring a lovely dose of nature indoors and help to purify the air in your home, they draw gnats and other insects to your house. Fortunately, there are simple ways to get rid of these tiny insects.
10. Inhospitable Habitat
You need to make your house and houseplants unwelcoming by drying out the soil in your flower pots where gnats live. The trick here is to dry the soil out completely before the next watering. This kills the insects and discourages adults from laying eggs.
11. Mixture of Soap and Water
Mix dish soap with water and spray the top of the soil in your flower pots with the mixture. This helps to eliminate the larvae. You should repeat this process periodically after a few days until all gnats are eliminated.
12. Sand or Gravel
Since gnats lay their eggs on top of the soil, you should replace the top inch of the soil in your flower pots with sand or gravel to create a dry environment and keep fungus away. This discourages gnats from laying eggs and robs them of their source of food.
How to Keep Gnats Away from Your Body
1. Limit your exposure: Since gnats often flock to the highest point of your body, which is the head, you should protect your head by wearing a hat when walking out of the house, especially during summer when gnats are prevalent. You can also protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses or safety goggles.
2. Use gnat repellent lotion: Olive oil, coconut oil, and vegetable oil are known to repel gnats and other insects. Therefore, you can apply any of these oils to your face to keep the bugs away. You can also use an essential oil insect spray to ward off gnats. A vanilla extract can also help you to keep gnats away.
3. Avoid fruit-smelling products: Do not wear sweet-smelling lotions, perfumes, or deodorants because they attract gnats. Instead, choose products that do not have scents.
How to Prevent Gnats from Returning
1. Store your fruits properly: Since gnats are attracted by fruits and fruit juices that are left unsealed, you should make sure that all your fruits, juices, apple cider vinegar, and other food items are properly sealed and stored.
2. Make your houseplants unwelcoming: Make sure that your houseplants and flower pots are unwelcoming to gnats and other insects. The best way to do this is to dry out the soil in your flower pots and replace the top layer of the soil with sand or granite.
3. Clear out garbage, moisture, and debris: To prevent gnats from laying eggs around your house, make sure there is no debris or mulch lying around. Also, dispose of your garbage properly, and keep your trash can sealed. Also, repair your leaky plumbing fixtures immediately to prevent moisture.
4. Avoid scented beauty products: To keep gnats away from your face, you should avoid scented products, especially those with sweet, fruity smells.
If you didn’t know how to keep gnats away, I believe this article has opened your eyes and mind. By following these tips, you will be able to get rid of the annoying bugs in your house and make sure they do not return.
Featured image source: Flickr