How To Get Rid Of Gnats (2024)

Few things are as annoying as a gnat (or several) buzzing about the kitchen when you’re trying to prepare a meal. They tend to float in front of faces and land on food, giving most folks the creeps. And while these bugs do reproduce quickly, you’re not destined for a life of fluttering suffering. These tricks and tips will help homeowners learn how to get rid of gnats the next time these pests pop up.

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What Are Gnats?

Gnats are small, winged insects, often no larger than ¼-inch. They can have yellow, tan, black, or brown coloring, and they have long legs compared to their bodies, and wide, flat wings. Some gnats are simply pests, while others actually pollinate plants and play a beneficial role.

Gnats do bite, and they can transfer certain diseases. However, they don’t damage homes like other insects, and they’re generally considered nothing more than nuisances.

There are several types of gnats known to become annoyances in homes. Among others, the most common include fruit flies that are attracted to rotting fruit and vegetables, fungus gnats that are attracted to overwater plant roots and drain flies that thrive on the moisture and rotting food in sink drains.

How to Identify Gnats

Knowing how to identify gnats doesn’t take a degree in biology, and it can be helpful in determining what the issue is and how to solve it.

Where Are Gnats Usually Found

Where gnats are found can be one of the most helpful indications of the type of infestation folks might have:

  • Drain flies will typically hang out in sinks in kitchens and bathrooms. They thrive on moisture and decaying organic matter in the drain. They’ll fly up into the air around the sink when disturbed.
  • Fungus gnats are commonly found around houseplants. These gnats’ larvae feed on overwatered plant roots, but the adults land on soil and leaves, as well.
  • Fruit flies collect on decaying fruits and vegetables. If a cloud of gnats ever puffs up into the air when throwing out an old banana, there’s no doubt that those were fruit flies.

All of these species, along with the others that are less likely to infest indoor locations, are spread across the globe. No region in the world is immune to these annoying little bugs.

What Are the Signs that You Have a Gnat Infestation?

In all reality, the main sign of a gnat infestation is several gnats flying through the air when you turn on the sink, move a house plant or disturb an old piece of fruit. These bugs don’t damage wood or leave trails of scat around, so take the first sight of these winged pests as a sign that there is an infestation.

How to Get Rid of Gnats

There are almost as many ways to get rid of gnats as there are different types of them. However, the following are some of the most tried-and-true methods for getting rid of gnats and quelling the infestation.

Use a Bug Zapper

One of the most effective methods for controlling and getting rid of gnats is by using a bug zapper. These devices attract gnats and electrocute them, causing them to die and collect in the bottom of the device. Many of the modern bug zappers on the market are safe for indoor use, so placing one on the counter or near plants can take care of a gnat problem quickly.

There are also other devices that use fans to trap bugs and then dehydrate them, and they work without electrocution. However, just realize that whether you’re using a traditional bug zapper or one of the fan-powered devices, they will trap other bugs that may be beneficial, like honeybees and other pollinators.

Vinegar Traps

When it comes to fruit flies, one of the best methods for getting rid of them is a vinegar trap. There are a couple of ways to set these up:

  • One method includes setting a bowl near the infestation and pouring apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of dish soap into the bowl. The sugar will attract the gnats, the dish soap will prevent them from escaping and the vinegar will kill them.
  • Another method includes mixing apple cider vinegar and sugar in a bowl, covering the bowl in plastic wrap and poking holes in the top. Placed near the infestation, these bowls will attract the gnats while preventing them from escaping.

Wine Traps

Another way to trap and kill fruit flies is to use a wine trap. These traps work similarly to vinegar traps with the exception that they use wine that’s past its prime and contains its own sugars. You can set up a bowl with plastic wrap over top, or simply leave the bottle open on the counter and trap the drunk gnats inside.

To increase effectiveness (if needed), mix a teaspoon of dish soap into the wine.

Candle Traps

For a quicker, albeit more dangerous, method for killing all sorts of gnats, set up a candle trap in the evening. Fill a pan with about ¼-inch of water and a bit of dish soap (about a teaspoon) and sit it on the counter. Place a candle holder in the water, and put a candle in the holder. Light the candle and turn off all the lights.

Gnats will be attracted to the flame. They may attempt to fly into the flame or simply fall into the soapy water and die.

Drain Cleaner

To get rid of drain flies or drain gnats, simply pour drain cleaner down the drain. Using the manufacturer’s instructions, pour some of the cleaner down the drain slowly to kill flying gnats and the larvae. Be sure to wear a mask, gloves and eye protection as drain cleaner can be particularly noxious stuff.

Bleach Drains

Another method for drain flies is to pour a cup of bleach down the drain. Like the drain cleaner, pour slowly to ensure the bleach has time to kill all the gnats and larvae. Also, make sure there aren’t any other chemicals in the drain to prevent creating harmful fumes.

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Reduce Watering

This might be hard for some greenthumbs, but skip watering those plants. Letting plants dry out a bit between watering will kill larvae, preventing them from thriving off of the fungus on the plant’s roots.

Use Sticky Paper or Cards

Another option that can work for all types of gnats is sticky paper or cards. These cards are yellow—a color that gnats are attracted to— and have adhesive on their faces. As soon as the gnats land on them, they get stuck and dehydrate. There are small cards that can be placed in plant pots, hanging ribbons and other versions available. As these cards fill up, simply throw them out and replace them.

Professional Gnat Services

If all else fails, it might be time to call a professional extermination service. Extermination services will charge between $100 and $450 to treat an infestation. And some extermination services offer guarantees that state if the infestation reoccurs within a certain amount of time, they’ll treat it again.

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THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

1

ORKIN

BBB Rating

A+

States Serviced

49

Effectiveness Guarantee

Yes

1

ORKIN

Learn More

On ORKIN's Website

2

Aptive

BBB Rating

A+

States Serviced

33

Effectiveness Guarantee

Yes

2

Aptive

Learn More

On Aptive's Website

How to Prevent Gnats

One of the best ways to get rid of gnats is to prevent them from ever infesting the home in the first place. The following are some of the best ways to prevent gnats:

  • Take out the garbage daily
  • Don’t let old fruit collect on the counter or in the fridge
  • Treat drains periodically to prevent food build-up
  • Don’t overwater house plants
  • Check for plumbing drain leaks and fix them immediately

Also, gnats often make their way inside through cracks in the foundation and gaps around windows and doors. You can prevent them by caulking around these entryways and making it more difficult for gnats to make it into the home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the quickest way to get rid of gnats?

The quickest way to get rid of gnats is to use a bug zapper or collection device that attracts the bugs, kills them and collects them in a removable canister.

What causes gnats in the house?

Overripe fruits, veggies, decaying food matter and moisture in drains are all culprits. Also, overwatering houseplants can cause gnats.

Do gnats go away on their own?

Once gnats infest a home, it’s unlikely that they’ll go away on their own. Their food source needs to be removed and larvae need to be killed to effectively get rid of gnats.

Do gnats lay eggs?

Gnats do lay eggs. They lay them in drains, in plant pots and on rotting fruit.

How long do gnats live in a house?

Gnats have a life cycle of 18 to 30 days, but they reproduce quickly and the infestation will last indefinitely until it’s handled.

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