There’s a reason why these little rascals are known as pests – although they can’t harm you, they’re known to be very annoying. Just having them in your house makes you feel uneasy, with your mind constantly wondering how exactly they got in there.
A gnat infestation is common for most homeowners, especially when spring comes along. Since they breed often, there’s a high chance of them becoming a real problem just in a couple of days. Knowing how to get rid of gnats, is quite similar to how to get rid of midges. In this guide, we will be looking at all you need to know about gnats and getting rid of them. And if your troubles don’t stop there, check how to get rid of maggots from your bin as well.
Table of Contents
What are gnats and how to identify them
Gnats are small, winged, flying insects including drain flies, fungus gnats and fruit flies. Drain ones are usually attracted to water and have moth-like wings. Then fungus gnats are identified by their dark bodies and long legs. There are also fruit flies, which are brown and round. Gnats are usually really small, don’t fly well but do so in large numbers and usually stay in wet and soil areas.
Are they causing any damage?
Although most gnats don’t bite humans or feed on blood, they become a nuisance as their population increases. When it comes to plants, adult gnats cause no harm, but we can’t say the same about the larvae. This is because they can feed on plant roots and spread plant pathogens, which eventually kills the whole plant. Some other species can also feed on the fruits in your home.
What causes the problem?
A gnat problem is caused when the environment is warm and musty. Plants, stagnant water and over-ripe fruits play a major role in their presence as well. As you can imagine, gnats come from the outside. They can go through the holes and cracks in your walls, doors, foundation and windows. Gnats infest moist places where there is decomposing organic matter, like trash cans, drains, sinks and toilets. These areas are also good breeding locations.
How to get rid of gnats step-by-step
There are four main methods you can use to eliminate gnats in your home, and they include taking care of the source, killing the larvae to prevent multiplication, setting up traps and using hydrogen peroxide solution to water your plants. Here are the DIY solutions you can use in getting rid of gnats.
1. Eliminate the Source
To do this, you have to seal your drains, clean up your kitchen and replace the soil in your indoor plants. The steps you take will depend on the type of gnats you’re dealing with.
If you have gnats in your home, the problem is with your house plants. Since they live and breed in these indoor plants, you can eliminate them by removing dead leaves from the soil, replacing the potting soil altogether or just the pot liner. If you’re not sure where the problem lies, or the roots have already gone bad, it’s best to replace the plant.
But, if you’re noticing gnats around moist areas in your home, they are most likely the drain type. They breed where there is a drain or leakage, especially in the kitchen. So, fix all the leaking pipes in your home, clean the outside of the pipes, keep your kitchen and bathroom dry and cover holes and cracks where moist sand or dirt can get stuck in.
As for fruit flies, you can eliminate them if you pay attention to the kind of trash you keep in your home. Don’t leave overripe or rotten fruits and vegetables in the kitchen because they see it as a food source. Dispose of them right away! Always tie trash bags tightly so that gnats won’t be attracted to them and there’ll be no room for breeding. Don’t forget to add a fruit fly trap around the trash bags for better results.
2. Create a Trap with Apple Cider Vinegar
You can create a homemade apple cider vinegar trap that can take care of all types of gnats. It’s cost-effective and does not require any professional or harmful chemicals. You can also use ripe fruit, beer or red wine if you don’t have any apple cider, although the alternate choices can attract ants.
The first step is to add apple cider with a few drops of dish soap in a cup or jar and mix it properly. The point of this is to attract them with the cider, and then trap them with the soap, causing them to drown in the cup.
You should also use plastic wrap to cover the cup and poke holes in it so the gnats can crawl into it. After two days, dump the content and start again. You can do this more than once and put it in different places around your home if you’re having a serious problem.
3. Targeting their Breeding Ground
If you want to stop the problem from the root, you should look out for their breeding grounds and kill gnats, both adults and larvae there. This will stop the life cycle. The method of doing this differs for each kind of gnat.
Fruit flies are the easiest to take care of! They are always living in fruits! Their babies also live there, so you only have to get rid of the infested fruits in the kitchen. You can also place sticky fly traps to fight them in multiple ways.
As for fungus gnat larvae, you can set traps in your potted plants. An ideal method is to combine steel wool and yellow sticky traps in your house plants. This works by placing coarse steel wool on top of the soil to make it impossible for any baby gnat to come out of there. Plus, adult gnats won’t be able to reach the soil and breed. Don’t buy the steel wool sponge as the gnats can easily go in and out of the holes. Instead, use those with medium coarseness. You can also hang sticky fly traps or fly paper around the plant so that any gnat that is flying nearby will get caught too.
The larvae of drain flies live within your drain but also in the dirt that is on the outside of the pipe. They also breed there, so you should clean the outside of your pipes with soap and water, and then with distilled white vinegar to prevent the flies from coming back. But, killing the ones inside the pipes is another problem. You can purchase drain treatment gels and use them consistently so that you are completely free from gnats. You can use them by pouring them down the drain at the end of the day and placing a cover – like a glass bow, over it to prevent gnats from escaping. The next morning, you should run hot water or diluted bleach through the drain to clear out the dead gnats. Continue this process until you completely get rid of them.
4. Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Water Your Houseplants
This method is only for fungus gnats since they usually hang around plants and soil. You should mix one part hydrogen peroxide 3% solution with four parts water and use this to water the plant. Once it comes in contact with the soil, you will see it bubbling, which is a sign that the solution is working. The larvae will die immediately after the solution touches it.
Smart tips to prevent gnats from coming back
Even if you take measures to eliminate gnats, there’s no guarantee that they won’t come back. New gnats can always find their way into your home through cracks and holes in the doors, windows and foundation. Thus, you can consciously ensure your house is unattractive to gnats.
1. Preventing Fungus Gnats
Whenever you water your household plants, don’t use too much water. Instead, the soil should dry in between the watering. If the soil is constantly wet, it can attract fungus gnats. You can also prevent them from coming by removing dead material, twigs, flowers and leaves that are on the soil.
2. Preventing Fruit Flies
If you want to prevent fruit flies from coming back, always make sure you wash your drinking glasses and dirty dishes. If there is still juice, wine or sauce on your plates, this will attract gnats. You should also throw out the trash often, keep the trash can and kitchen bins covered and tie the bags tightly. Keeping your trash does not only attract flies but other annoying insects.
3. Preventing Drain Flies
You can prevent them from coming into your home by getting rid of all the damp areas. Fix your leaking faucets and pipes, and use a foam insulator if you’re having condensation problems.
Having gnats in your home might not affect your health, but it will take away the comfort and cleanliness of your space. These little buggers cause harm to your plants and make your kitchen and bathroom uncomfortable. Once they breed and form an infestation, it becomes a more serious problem for the homeowner. This is why you need to know how you can get rid of them and keep them away from your home. Using the different methods above, anyone can get rid of gnats and stop them from ever coming back.