Everyone’s dealt with gnats at one point or another. When those pesky little flies take up residence in your home, it’s hard to get rid of them. They’re like unwelcome guests that never leave, and when they live in your kitchen it makes cooking quite unpleasant. There are ways, however, to nip gnat problems in the bud. Below are tips for how to get rid of gnats — and keep them from coming back.
First things first — what exactly are gnats?
If you’ve ever been bothered by small, flying insects, there’s a good chance they were gnats. These tiny pests are attracted to light and are often found near windows and other well-lit areas. While they typically don’t bite, they can be a nuisance, especially when they swarm in large numbers. So what exactly are gnats?
Gnats belong to the family of insects known as Diptera, which includes equally annoying pests like mosquitos and the common house fly. Most gnats are harmless and don’t threaten humans or animals. However, some species carry diseases, making them a potential health hazard. In addition, certain types of gnats are attracted to decaying organic matter, which is what causes them to invade kitchens and other areas where food is stored.
How do gnat infestations typically start?
There are two main types of gnats: fungus gnats and fruit flies. Fungus gnats are often found near houseplants, as they are attracted to damp soil. Fruit flies, on the other hand, are drawn to overripe fruits and veggies. Both types of gnats lay their eggs in moist areas, and the larvae can develop quickly in warm, humid conditions. An infestation can start with just a few eggs, so it’s important to regularly check for signs of gnats in your home. If you spot potential activity, take immediate action to prevent a full-on infestation.
What are some tips for getting rid of household gnats?
Gnat infestations in the home are annoying — to say the least — and can be difficult to get rid of. As earlier mentioned, these small black flies are attracted to moisture and organic matter, and they quickly reproduce to large numbers. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to kick your pest problem to the curb — here are some of them.
Determine the source of your problem.
Gnats are small, winged insects attracted to moist environments — hence the reason they are often found flying near sources of standing water, such as sinks, drains, and potted plants. While the common household gnat is not typically known to transmit disease, it can be quite a nuisance when it invades in large numbers. With this in mind, if you’re dealing with a gnat infestation, the first step is to determine the source of the problem. Once you’ve identified the source, you can take steps to get rid of the gnats for good.
Note: If you have any concerns, consider consulting a pest control professional for expert advice.
Throw away old, overripe, or rotten fruit.
Did you know that you can get rid of household gnats by simply throwing away old, overripe, or rotting fruit? It’s true — gnats are attracted to the smell of ripe fruit, and they like to lay eggs in the small holes of the fruit’s soft flesh. So, before you have a problem with gnats in your home, quickly dispose of any ripe fruit to dissuade them from entering in the first place.
Clean out your garbage can.
If you’ve ever seen small, dark bugs buzzing around your trash can, chances are you had a run-in with household gnats. These pests are attracted to the damp, dark conditions inside a garbage can, where they lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed on the decomposing organic matter before they decide to lay more eggs, and the infestation grows even larger. Thankfully, this icky cycle can be disrupted by regularly cleaning your garbage can with a few drops of dish soap, bleach, or apple cider vinegar and hot water. Doing this removes the food source that the gnats are after.
Make DIY gnat traps.
DIY gnat and fly traps are a good last resort.
- Make red wine traps by laying half cups of wine around your kitchen.
- Mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of liquid dish soap, plus a tablespoon of sugar and set these in corners and dark areas.
- Build a candle trap by putting a candlestick in a shallow container of water, lighting the candle, and turning off the lights.
Each of these methods can help you get rid of gnats after an infestion.
Store fresh produce in the refrigerator.
Fresh produce is a healthy diet necessity. It’s also a breeding ground for household pests. Small insects, like gnats, are attracted to the sugary sweetness of fruits and vegetables. The easiest way to prevent these pests from taking hold is to store fresh produce in the refrigerator. The cold temperature kills any eggs that have been laid and makes it difficult for adult gnats to survive.
Pour piping hot water down your drain.
Kitchen sink drains are nesting hot spots where gnats and drain flies love to lay their eggs — especially in garbage disposals where organic material is still sitting. These pesky winged pests love the warm, moist environment and the food and bacteria build-up that resides there. To prevent the eggs from hatching, pour boiling water into the sink.
How can I prevent gnats from getting into my home?
Now that you’ve rid yourself of these annoying pests, you’ll want to prevent them from coming back. While there’s no surefire way to keep gnats away for good, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a future infestation.
Don’t allow standing water to accumulate.
Like many buzzing insects, gnats are attracted to standing water. If you have any areas where water tends to pool — beneath a leaky faucet or broken water pipe, for example — fix them ASAP.
In addition, standing water can accumulate when you’re overwatering plants or skipping the occasional repot. If you’re noticing gnats or midges around your plants, try watering less frequently.
Keep the kitchen clean.
If you’re dealing with a pesky gnat infestation, it’s important to keep your kitchen clean. Why? Because this little buggers love organic matter, and are drawn to crumbs and spills left on countertops. Make sure to wipe up any messes right away and sweep the floors regularly. You should also empty your garbage can often and keep all food items in sealed containers. These simple steps will make your kitchen less attractive to household gnats and help avoid future infestations.
Consider repellent plants.
Gnats can’t stand certain plants, so if you’re trying to keep them out of your house, creating an undesirable environment for them by strategically planting some of their least favorite foliage can help no — insecticide required.
Plants that repel gnats include:
- Lemon thyme
- Mexican marigold
- Lemon grass
Change your potting soil.
Changing your potting soil doesn’t just improve the health of your plants; it also helps to keep fungus gnats at bay. Change potting soil regularly (before gnats arrive — because they will), and pay attention to your watering habits.
Repair broken window screens.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent a gnat infestation is to ensure all window screens are in good repair. These itty-bitty bugs can enter through the smallest of openings, making it unbelievably easy for them to invade your space. Check, too, for other potential entry points, such as gaps around doors and windows. For a quick fix, try patch your screens with plastic wrap.
The Final Word
While it takes some effort to get rid of gnats, it’s worth it. Household gnats are a major nuisance, and they can lay hundreds of eggs. If you don’t handle an infestation quickly, it will most certainly get worse. Fortunately, using the above tips and tricks will help you banish these pesky pests and keep them from returning once and for all — and without the need of a costly professional pest control company.