If you’ve found swarms of tiny black insects in your home, these tips on how to get rid of gnats will help. Read on for ways to keep them out of your house, control the infestation, and kill the ones already inside with homemade gnat
Gnats in the House – What You Need to Know
When searching for ways to get rid of gnats, people often mean any one of several small, flying insects that are swarming in their homes.
Indoor gnats are usually fungus flies. They enter our homes when we buy houseplants or bring potted plants indoors for the winter. Sometimes, we mistake fruit flies or drain flies for gnats.
Outdoor gnats can get inside, too. These include buffalo gnats, midges, and “no-see-ums.” Outdoor gnats come through holes in window screens, fly through open doors, or hitch rides on humans and pets.
Do They Bite?
Indoor gnats don’t bite, but the female of many outdoor species does feed on blood and can transmit disease. Their bites are painful, too. That’s because they have four “cutters” in their mouths. 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.
Their bites are itchy, too. Scratching gnat bites can cause infection. If it still itches after a few hours, try some hydrocortisone cream, or see your doctor.
How to Get Rid of Gnats
Since people so often use the term “gnat” to describe different types of indoor flying insects, getting rid of them depends on where you most often see them.
- Make sure your window screens fit well.
- 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. (Here are tips on natural mosquito control and a homemade mosquito repellent.)
These are probably fungus flies. They breed and hatch in damp soil. To get rid of them, let houseplant soil completely dry between waterings.
Spray a homemade fungus killer. 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.
Keep plants well-tended. Remove dead leaves and repot plants that have grown too big for their container to promote air circulation that prevents fungal growth.
In the Kitchen
These are most likely fruit flies. They feed and breed on overripe fruit, vegetables, and other foods left on your counter. They’re also attracted by things like cat litter boxes and kitchen trash.
To get rid of them, refrigerate or cover any fruit and vegetables. Empty your kitchen trash daily, and keep the cat’s litterbox scooped. For bad infestations, follow these additional steps to get rid of fruit flies.
Also known as “drain flies,” this kind of gnat lays its eggs in the biofilm and other residue lining sink drains. They are especially attracted to odors. Keep your sink clean and free of dirty dishes, and run your garbage disposal several times a day. Here is how to clean stinky drains.
Near Pet Beds
These are probably outdoor gnats or midges that have made their way into your home. Since they are biting insects, they’ll annoy your pet as much as they do you.
Brush your pet outside after prolonged time in the yard or walks in tall grass, wooded areas, or other places where gnats are likely to swarm.
Also, keep in mind that gnats are attracted to odors, and dirty pet beds smell awful. Wash your pet’s bedding weekly in hot water, adding vinegar to the rinse cycle to kill gnat eggs. Do not use fabric softener, though: it contains protein-based surfactants that attract pests. This homemade flea killer also kills gnat eggs.
Near Your Computer
If you find gnats swarming your computer monitor or phone at night, you need to remember that they’re most active during the day. Electronic screens emit blue light, so they confuse it for daylight.
Keep them from pestering by turning on a bright light on the opposite side of the room. If possible, place a homemade gnat trap (recipe below) beneath the bulb, so it shines directly on the liquid’s surface. The light and the scent will lure the gnats away from your screen.
Gnat Trap Recipes
Keeping gnats out of your home is only the first step to controlling an infestation. You need to kill the ones flying around indoors, too. The easiest way to do this is by using a homemade trap.
Gnat Trap Recipe
- Tall Jar
- Plastic Wrap or Cling Film
- Rubber Band
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Liquid Dish Soap
- Piece of fruit (optional) banana works very well
- Fill the tall jar halfway with apple cider vinegar. The pectin in ACV is a lure. If you cannot stand the smell of vinegar, use red wine instead.
- Add a couple of drops of liquid dish soap. The soap creates surface tension on the vinegar, which makes it difficult for gnats to escape.
- Add some fruit. (Optional) You can make it even more attractive to them with a piece banana that's long enough to poke above the surface of the liquid.
- Make a lid. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the jar and poke a few small holes in it. Fasten it in place with the rubber band. The holes let them into the trap, but they will not be able to find their way out.
- Keep it fresh. Dump the jar daily, then rinse and refill it. Repeat until you go at least a couple of days without finding more dead gnats in the trap.
Gnats Near Houseplants
For fungus flies and gnats that swarm near your houseplants:
- Make a homemade sticky trap by wrapping a long stick with double-sided tape. (Or use a store-bought version.)
- Insert the stick into the plant’s soil where it will catch gnats.
- Replace it as needed.