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If you’ve found gnats in the kitchen or swarms of tiny black insects flitting around indoors, these tips on how to get rid of gnats will help. Read on to learn why you’re finding gnats in the house, how to kill them, and several all-natural gnat
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. Here’s how to get rid of gnats in homes without filling your indoor air with toxic sprays.
What are Gnats?
People use “gnat” to refer to a variety of small, flying insects. Indoor gnats are typically fungus flies though sometimes we confuse them with fruit flies. Outdoor gnats are commonly blackflies or midges.
Do Gnats Bite?
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.
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. (Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies.)
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.
How to Get Rid of Gnats
Since the term “gnat” refers to at least three 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. (Find natural solutions to get rid of mosquitoes here.)
- Keep lawns mowed, leaves raked, and dead plants out of your yard
Gnats Near Houseplants
These are probably fungus flies which breed and hatch in damp soil.
- To get rid of them, let houseplant soil completely dry between waterings.
- After each watering, mist the top of the dirt lightly with a mixture of 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and 3 drops liquid dish detergent in a spray bottle.
- Remove dead leaves to deprive these gnats around houseplants of their favorite foods and breeding material.
- Repot houseplants that have grown too big for their container. This will keep your plants healthy and promote air-circulation that stops fungus growth.
Gnats in the Kitchen
These are most likely fruit flies which feed and breed on overripe fruit. Here are detailed instructions to get rid of fruit flies in the house. The short version is:
- Wash your produce as soon as it gets
- Don’t leave fruit or vegetables sitting on your kitchen counter,
- Take out your kitchen trash at least once a day, and
- Wash your kitchen trashcan every couple of weeks.
Gnats Near Drains
Also known as “drain flies,” this kind of gnat loves decomposing food and other organic matter.
- Clean your drains weekly
- Be sure to unclog drains that are working slowly
- Don’t let dirty dishes sit in the sink
- Run your garbage disposal every time you do dishes
- Clean your garbage disposal weekly
Gnats Near Pet Beds
These are most likely outdoor gnats, or midges, that have made their way into your home.
- Bathe your pet weekly. This homemade flea killer also kills gnat eggs.
- Wash pet bedding every couple of weeks in hot water. Add white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help kill gnat eggs. Skip the fabric softener, though — its surfactants can attract pests.
Gnat Traps that Kill Gnats
Vinegar Gnat Trap
One of the most tried-and-true methods to get rid of gnats. Set vinegar gnat traps near houseplants, on kitchen counters, or anywhere else you see gnats. Replace it daily.
- Fill a tall jar halfway with apple cider vinegar.
- Add a couple of drops of liquid dish soap. The soap creates a surface tension on the vinegar which makes it difficult for gnats to escape.
- Fasten a piece of plastic wrap on top of the container with a rubber band.
- Using a toothpick, poke a few small holes in the plastic so gnats can get in.
Wine-Based Gnat Trap
For people who can’t stand the smell of apple cider vinegar, red wine works just as well. Follow the steps above, replacing the apple cider vinegar with red wine.
You can make it even more attractive to gnats by dropping a chunk of banana in the jar. The gnats will enter the trap in search of the fruit, but the plastic will keep them from escaping.
Gnat Traps for Houseplants
For fungus flies and gnats that swarm near your houseplants, try putting a Sticky Stake in the soil.
You can also make your own by wrapping a long stick with double-sided tape. Insert the stick into the plant’s soil where it will catch gnats, but they won’t be able to escape from the tape. Replace it as needed.
Note: This post was first published in 2016. It has been revised and updated for republication.
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