If you’ve discovered gnats inside the bedroom or swarms of tiny black insects flitting around indoors, you just might have a problem that you definitely should take care of right away.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what these annoying critters are, why you’re finding gnats in the house, how to get rid of gnats in the bedroom and inside your house, and several all-natural gnat traps you can easily make.
Table of Contents
- Gnats In The House – What You Need To Know
- How Do Gnats Get In The House?
- What are Gnats Attracted To?
- How to Get Rid of Gnats
- How to Prevent Gnats From Coming Back
Gnats In The House – What You Need To Know
While most gnats aren’t harmful, they’re irritating and give the impression of a dirty house even when it’s not.
What are Gnats?
What is that tiny bug that keeps buzzing around your eyes, nose, and ears? The one that’s so annoying you think you just might lose your mind. It could be flies or mosquitoes, but this one is even smaller. If that’s the case, it may be those pesky little gnats. So, what are gnats? A closer look will help answer the question.
Gnats are small flies in the suborder Nematocera that includes midges, crane flies and mosquitoes. They are often confused with many other types of flying insects. Because of their small size, they are commonly referred to as ‟no-see-ums.” Some of the more common species include fungus gnats, black gnats, drain flies, midges, sand flies and fruit flies.
Gnats are considered ‟true” insects because they have three body segments (the head, thorax, and abdomen), six legs and either one or two pairs of wings. Most species have long legs in comparison to the size of their body, and although they have wings, most are weak fliers. They have mouthparts that are defined by one of three categories – sucking, lapping or piercing. Some gnats bite and feed on blood, while some feed on other insects or plant material.
Like them or not, gnats serve a valuable role in nature. They are an important food source for birds, bats, and other insects. Some species also pollinate flowers. On the other hand, some species spread disease and carry parasites.
Indoor gnats don’t bite. The types that bite are usually outdoor gnats that got into your home — buffalo gnats, biting midges or sand flies, for example.
The female of many outdoor species does feed on blood and can transmit disease. Their bites are painful, too. That’s because they have “cutters” in their mouths. Four of them! Unlike mosquitos, they don’t break the skin, they slice it.
Plus, biting gnats inject an anti-clotting agent, so the wound doesn’t heal quickly. You’ll probably notice some swelling and redness in the area along with a small red pinprick which is the gnat bite. It will be itchy, too. Try not to scratch it, though. Scratching gnat bites can cause infection. If the gnat bite still itches after a few hours, try some hydrocortisone cream or see your doctor.
Other Species of Gnats
1) Fungus gnats
This insect is a common indoor pest that is typically found in or around over-watered potted plants. Fungus gnats are tiny flies, less than one-half of an inch in length, and are mostly black in color. They have long legs and long, thin wings. These flies thrive in temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They reproduce in decaying organic matter that is moist and shaded.
2) Drain flies
Sometimes known as the moth fly, these insects are small, less than one-fourth of an inch in length, with a hairy body and wings that give them a ‟furry” appearance. The adults have long antennae and broad wings that are shaped like a leaf. They are usually found in bathrooms, kitchens and other damp environments. Appropriately named, these flies lay their eggs inside of sink drains. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on bacteria inside the pipes where organic matter, such as hair, tends to collect.
These flying insects closely resemble mosquitoes. However, they have a much shorter snout and the wings are feathered on the females and bushy on the males. They are soft-bodied and range in length from one-thirty second of an inch to 1 inch. They tend to congregate in large swarms near ponds, lakes or slow-moving streams. Midges are attracted to light and often found around porch lights or streetlights. The swarms can be so large that they can be a traffic hazard.
Sandflies are golden, brown or gray, depending on the species. They are very small flying insects – only about one-sixteenth of an inch in length – but don’t let their small size fool you. These flies possess a painful bite that feels more like a sting. Their bite can cause redness and swelling in the affected area.
Sandflies are native to tropical or subtropical regions of the world. Females have piercing mouthparts and feed on the blood of mammals. There are six species found in the United States, none of which are known to carry disease. In other parts of the world, however, they have been known to transmit a virus known as sandfly fever. This virus is similar to dengue but is very rarely fatal.
5) Black gnats
Although there is not an insect that is actually classified as a black gnat, many people may use this term to describe a variety of flying insects. Phorid flies, black flies, and fungus gnats are just a few of either black or dark-colored flies that could be misidentified in this way.
How Do Gnats Get In The House?
Indoor gnats are usually fungus flies. They enter our homes when we buy houseplants or bring potted plants indoors for the winter.
Fruit flies get confused for gnats. These often come home with us on produce we bought at the grocery store.
Outdoor gnats can get inside our homes, too. They’ll squeeze through holes in window screens, buzz in through open doors, or hitch rides inside on humans and pets.
What are Gnats Attracted To?
Gnats are attracted to moisture and organic material, which is why you’ll notice more gnats during the summer than during the winter. They typically enter the house in search of food and a place to procreate. They gravitate towards decaying organic material, such as decaying leaves or rotten fruit and moist areas inside the home, such as wet potting soil or wet sinks and drains.
The following are causes of gnats inside your house:
Moist breeding grounds for gnats include food spillage, moist potting soil, overwatered grass or plants, garbage cans, puddles in the kitchen or outside your house, leaky pipes under the sink, and condensation around windows and vents.
2) Fruits and vegetables
Fruit flies appear when you leave produce out in the open, especially sweet-smelling fruits. They are also attracted to fallen or rotten fruits in your garden.
Decaying organic material: Fungus gnats love rotting plants and flowers. Things they feed on include fungus, mold, moss, and compost. They typically live in your potting soil where they can feed on either root rot or decaying leaves.
Perspiration, body heat, mucus from your nose, tears from your eyes, and carbon dioxide are all elements of attraction to the common household gnat. They also like sweet-smelling lotions, perfumes, hairsprays, and detergents, so avoid fruit fragrances if you have a gnat problem.
Like flies, gnats can’t fly very well in the dark, so they swarm around light fixtures and lamps.
How to Get Rid of Gnats
Since the term “gnat” refers to different types of indoor flying insects, getting rid of them depends on where you most often see them.
General Tips to Get Rid of Gnats
- Make sure your window screens fit properly
- Repair torn window screens and screen doors
- Midges are attracted to light, so turn off outdoor lights near open windows or close windows near outdoor lights
- Keep doors closed, including screen doors
- Don’t allow puddles to accumulate in your yard. They’ll breed gnats as well as mosquitoes.
- Keep lawns mowed, leaves raked, and dead plants out of your yard
- Aloe plant in a pot
Use all three of these methods simultaneously to wipe out existing gnats and prevent further infestation.
1. Eliminate the Source and Their Potential Breeding Ground
Clean up your kitchen, seal your drains, and replace your potting soil.
For fungus gnats: Fungus gnats live and breed in the soil of your potted indoor plants. Remove dead leaves on top of the soil. If you suspect mold or fungus, replace the pot liner, the soil, or both. If the root has rotted, consider replacing the plant altogether.
For fruit flies: Remove rotten or overripe fruit from the kitchen. Dispose of all organic foods outside. Tie the plastic bag tightly and properly close the trash bin to prevent gnats from getting attracted to the smell and breeding inside the trash can.
For phorid (drain) flies: If you see bugs in your kitchen that aren’t fruit flies, they are likely phorid flies (or drain flies). These insects can only breed in moist areas, typically in drains or where there is leakage. Wipe down the outside of the pipes, fix any leaking pipes, fill and cover crevices and holes where moist dirt can get trapped, and keep your kitchen and bathroom dry.
2. Kill the Larvae and Adults to Prevent Multiplying
To kill the larvae and stop the cycle of procreation, find their breeding ground.
For fungus gnats: The best method I’ve found is using a combination of steel wool and yellow sticky traps in my potted plants. I cover the top of the soil with coarse steel wool to shred emerging baby gnats and adult gnats that enter the soil to breed.
I recommend getting medium coarseness or higher, and don’t get the steel wool sponges because those have big holes that are easy for flies to get through. I also hang these Trapro Sticky Fly Traps on the plant to catch flying gnats loitering nearby. This combination ensures that I kill every single gnat possible.
For fruit flies: Fruit fly larvae live in fruits, so just dispose of infested fruits in your kitchen and refrigerator. Hang up those sticky fly traps to catch existing ones.
For phorid (drain) flies: Drain fly larvae live in the sludge and film within your drain, but they may also breed inside the dirt that covers the outside of the pipes. Wipe down the outside with soap and water, and then do another wipe down with distilled white vinegar.
To kill the larvae inside the pipes, I used this Drain Treatment from Green Gobbler. I used the whole gallon over the course of a week, and my kitchen was completely clear of gnats after that.
The product is a gel that traps flies and larvae and then kills them with the active ingredient, citronella. I would pour some down the drain at the end of the day and cover the drain with a glass bowl to prevent escapees. Then I would run hot water for 5 minutes the next morning to clear everything out and then repeat the process again that night. I did this for 6 days.
3. Water Plants With a Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
To kill fungus gnat larvae on contact, water the plant with a mixture of 1 part hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) and 4 parts water. Once you pour the mixture into the soil, you should see some bubbling, which indicates that the solution is working.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar Gnat Trap
This is an efficient natural and homemade way to kill adult gnats without using harmful chemicals. The best part is that this works on all types of gnats.
How to Make a Gnat Trap:
- Pour apple cider vinegar and a bit of dish soap into a jar or cup and mix it thoroughly. The smell of apple cider vinegar attracts gnats like crazy and the soap prevents them from flying, thereby drowning them inside the cup.
- Cover the cup with plastic wrap and poke holes in it with a pen. The holes allow the gnats to crawl into the cup.
- Dump out the contents after two days and start fresh. Do this repeatedly until you no longer see gnats inside the jar.
Note: You can also use beer, wine, or ripe fruit instead of apple cider vinegar, however, you may attract ants, so I recommend sticking to apple cider vinegar.
How to Prevent Gnats From Coming Back
- Don’t overwater your plants. Let the soil dry out between waterings.
- Remove dead material on top of the soil. Pick up and discard dead leaves, twigs, flowers, etc.
- Don’t leave food out. This means washing your dirty dishes and drinking glasses. Even a slight hint of juice, wine, or sauce will attract gnats.
- Get rid of damp areas. Fix your leaking pipes and faucets. If there is condensation on the pipes, insulate it by getting a foam insulator.
- Cover your trash cans. You should take the trash out as often as possible. Stinky trash cans are a haven not only for gnats, but other creepy crawlies as well.