Wait a minute. Those critters you’re outright calling gnats might not actually be what you’re thinking. Check that the insects in question have big prominent eyes that are brick red or black in coloration and also have abdomens the shape of strawberry. They should look reddish brown to grayish.
If yes, check that they swarm around fruit bowls, drink-spill-spots or the trash cans and garbage containers inside. If yes, then what you have is a fruit fly or phroid infestation and not a gnat infestation. Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies for good.
If on the other hand, the culprit insects look more like mosquitoes than they resemble houseflies, have relatively tiny heads with nearly inconspicuous eyes, are black to grayish in coloration, have fairly long antennas on their heads and adopt moist environments around the house for their reproduction, then you’ve got your self a full-fledged gnat infestation. We’ll provide you with the best solutions to deal with them shortly.
You should read this article to learn how to differentiate between gnats and fruit flies
Gnat home remedy
Before we proceed with any gnat remedy, you first of all need to acknowledge the type of gnat infestation you have indoors. Not all gnats are created equal. Differed species of gnats are lured into the house by different attractants. So there isn’t going to be a universal solution to get rid of them all.
To make life easier for you, we’ve identified three of the most popular species of gnats that prefer to chill indoors with humans rather than in the wilderness with their wild counterparts. Your case may or may not be any of these gnat species, but theres a high chance that these species of gnats are the ones dishing out the annoyance.
We’ll list each one of these gnats species separately, discuss what they look like (with pictures), and provide appropriate techniques and solutions for eradicating each one of them completely and successfully within the perimeters of house. No wasting time, let’s get started.
How to get rid of gnats
1) Dark winged fungus gnats
Dark winged fungus gnats are one of (if not) the most popular species of gnats and more specifically of fungus gnats found within the vicinity of homes and offices, usually around moist areas with fungus growth such as potting soil.
They are delicate little insects measuring 2 to 11 millimetres in total length and typically have black to grayish upper body with yellow colored abdomens.
Their wings are smoke in coloration and females of certain species don’t even possess flight wings at all. Dark winged fungus gnats have relatively long antenna which is typical of any insect belonging to the gnat family, and also have long slender legs that are brown to dark in coloration. They generally resemble mosquitoes in external shape morphology; having very tiny heads with nearly inconspicuous eyes and slim, elongated and slender abdomens.
Where are dark winged fungus gnats commonly found indoors?
While indoors, fungus gnats are mostly found within the vicinity of houseplants because they are primarily attracted to moist growing media especially those containing high amounts of peat moss. Female gnats utilize the cracks and cervices located at the top of these mediums to deposit fertilized eggs after copulating with males.
This happens as soon as they infest your home. The moist conditions of the growing media provides the larvae with food in the form of fungi, algae and decaying plant matter. Sometimes, roots and leaves resting on the surface of the growing media can also be consumed by the larvae but the earlier group of foods are typically preferred first.
The fact that fungus gnats mostly prefer to lay eggs in moist potting soil doesn’t necessarily mean that they only use theses mediums for their reproduction. In houses where potted plants aren’t present indoors, the presence of dark winged fungus gnats can still be observed around moist wooden areas and poorly ventilated crawlspaces and attics. Basically anywhere that is able to harbor tasty fungi food that their baby larvae prefer. Or in other words, any indoor area that moisture accumulation is often a problem.
The larvae of fungus gnats
The total period it takes for a fungus gnat larvae to complete a reproductive cycle generally depends on temperature, however it usually happens in less than three weeks in the warm conditions of our homes. Larvae generally resemble worm; being translucent and having a black head capsule.
In potting soil, larvae are primarily located at the topsoil but can change depths (of no more than a few inches) depending on moisture level. This is so because the topsoil is likely the most saturated and thus having abundance of fungus food growing there as a result. Often, the moister the surrounding soil, the better it is preferred by the larvae of fungus gnats. This fact is one of the many tactics employed for the extermination of fungus gnat larvae living within potted soil. You’ll see how that works in just a minute.
Potential harm that fungus gnats might cause
Adult fungus aren’t dangerous to humans. They do not bite and neither do they transfer any diseases into the body. They are only a source of nuisance in their larger groups as they occasionally fly around bumping into peoples faces, eyes and noses or diving straight into their foods or drinks.
Adult gnats are mostly attracted to people’s perfumes and illuminated areas. That’s why they fly. But they often perish in no more than seven to ten days after they pupate. Adult fungus gnat rarely consume food but can seep water from leaves of potted plants or on the surface of growing media.
The larvae stage of fungus gnats are the real pest. When laid in huge numbers within the cracks and cervices of potted plants (females usually lay between 50 to 100 eggs but in an extremely productive session, she can lay up to 200 eggs), they may cause plants to wilt and die as they are forced to consume the root tissues of the plants due to excessive competition.
Regardless of whether fungus gnats are harmful or not, truth is, nobody really wants them swarming around the house like they contributed a dime to furnish it.
So it’s only natural for us to seek out remedies that can help send them packing to the valley of death with their entire families. Here are some of the best techniques we’ve tried.
Remedies for eliminating dark winged fungus gnats
First things first, it is essential that you deal with the source of infestation appropriately. You should never ever rely on traps or insecticide as your only extermination tactics. Do this and you’re signed up for a never ending battle, similar to a computer program running on an infinite loop.
You’ll keep fight these annoying little critters until they finally take over the house and send you packing together with your family. It’s really very easy for their population to get out of hand. The best way to deal with any insect infestation is to address the source(s) of infestation in the first place. That’ll get 50 percent of the work done most of the time.
a) Dealing with the source of infestation
- Make sure you do not have a moisture problem indoors. Gnats population outside the house only require the sound of the moisture whistle to barge into the house through crevice and cracks even the naked eyes can barely see. So no damp wood works, damp drywall, and leaky roofs or openings that can cause these problems in the first place.
- Factors outside the apartment can also be crucial in dealing with a fungus gnat infestation since these critters often crawl on their bellies from outside to infest inside in the first place. So make sure to eliminate any moist shaded areas around the compound, especially those near entry points like doors and windows. Gnats love these areas. Throw away old pile of woods and completely replace older mulch with a fresher one. Rake consistently to expose thriving fungi to the fierce claws of the sun and also make sure to clear piles of organic debris and leaves as fungus gnats can uses underneath these mediums for reproduction too.
- Potting soil: Fungus gnats are attracted to extremely moist soils and if they can’t find anything moist that can grow fungus, they’ll look for another place to reproduce in. For the larvae already thriving in the pots, here’s how to kill them. Monitor the frequency of watering the plants. Allow the growing medium to dry between watering especially for the topsoil. This is where fungus gnat larvae thrive. By increasing the time between plant watering, you’re effectively decreasing their survival rate of larvae and even that of eggs laid within the soil. That’s because these two cannot survive in dry mediums. Female gnats would also find the dry soil unattractive and therefore look for other suitable places to lay their eggs.
- Re-potting: When the potting soil has degraded and broken down which means it is now retaining more levels of water than before. It’s time to re-pot. This will prevent moisture accumulation which would subsequently result in fungus growth and later attraction of fungus gnats.
b) Next is trap to eliminate the adults
Usually, dealing appropriately with the source of infestation should do the trick of eliminating gnats within a few weeks time. But if that’s a time frame too long for your busy self to handle, you might want to try out effective gnat traps to eliminate the adult populations already thriving inside.
Thankfully, there are some quick solutions you can adopt to get rid of adult fruit flies within the house. Here are some, but not all of them are home remedies. (the DIY traps usually don’t work well when it comes to gnats).
- Try yellow sticky cards: Adult gnats are keenly attracted to the color yellow so when these cards are pinned to plant leaves or dropped near the potting soil, they’ll approach to investigate and get stuck up on the board. This method is very effective at capturing adult gnats.
- Bug zappers: These offer a long term solution for adult gnats flying around the house. The glowing device lure them for close by inspection by virtue of the fact that they love everything that has to do with light, and exterminate them instantly. Zappers shouldn’t be used outside the house though as it can cause imbalance of the ecosystem by killing useful insects too i.e pollinators.
- Candle trap: Light up a candle stick and place it inside a container filled with vinegar or water. Drop the trap near the infested area and shut off or block all light sources to the area. Watch as tens of fungus gnats drown in water trying to reach the illumination.
- Insecticides: Use persistent insecticides labelled for gnats to get rid of adult gnats. Persistent insecticides are those that get rid of gnat for up to three days after spraying.
2) Drain Gnat
Drain gnats or flies also known as sink flies, filter flies, sewer gnats or moth flies are tiny insects that resemble moths in external morphology when resting. They are about 1/6 to 1/5 inch long and usually have a dark grey to black coloration. They have hairs all over their bodies and their wings are leaf shaped. They are weak fliers that fly on a few feet at a time. They generally operate in the evening.
Where are drain gnats found indoors?
Drain flies are generally found in drains of kitchens (including floor drains) and bathrooms. They can also be found under loose ceramic floor tiles where layer of stagnant water collects and also in toilets left unused for a prolonged period of time. Females lay eggs in these places so that their larvae can feed on the decaying organic matter there. This decaying organic matter builds up a scum layer that gives perfect residence and provides food for the larvae.
Drain fly larvae turn into adults in less than four weeks. The larvae are particularly sturdy in that they can survive temperature extremes i.e. hot waters poured down the drain, and also harsh chemical solutions like bleach.
Both adult and larvae drain flies are not harmful. In fact, the larvae are crucial in the decomposition of organic matter in the mediums they inhabit. But the overcrowding of adults around the house can be a source of nuisance or annoying to people.
Remedies for drain flies
- Clean drain with a stiff long handle brush alone or using biological drain cleaner which digest the organic slime layer within the drain. Cleaning must be done thoroughly in order to eliminate any decaying organic material that can serves a potential food source for larvae or attractant for females looking for where to deposit their eggs.
- Maintain proper hygiene and make sure to clean drains properly and regularly.
- Adult drain flies can be killed using appropriate insecticides.
3) Biting Midget
Biting midgets are annoying set of gnats that bite. They are also known as no-see-ums, punkies, five-O’s, pinyon gnats or moose flies. The blood sucking species can accidentally enter into homes in search for human blood to suck in order to gain protein for egg laying. But they are generally a source of nuisance to humans engaging in outdoor activities such as gardening, boating, camping and back packing.