Even if you have a good strategy and prevention program, you will probably have to deal with a gnat situation sometimes whether it is in your home, garage, or place of business. A gnat problem can be a real pain. Here are some of the ways gnats can cost you time, money, and comfort, how to get rid of gnats and what to do about it.
How to Identify Gnats?
Gnats are tiny flying insects with six long legs and one set of wings. The gnat species have a variety of small flies that include fruit flies, sand gnat, drain flies, and fungus gnats. Below is the common type of gnats that you may encounter:
- Fruit flies—These yellow-brown flies have red eyes and feathery-looking wings.
- Drain flies—Typically light grey or brown, drain flies have a fuzzy, moth-like appearance.
- Fungus gnats—Mostly black, fungus gnats have very long legs and antennae compared to the rest of their body.
- Buffalo gnats – Also known as black flies. These buffalo gnats have a humpbacked appearance, small in size ⅛ inches. They typically appear in late spring and early summer.
Where Do Gnats Come From?
In most cases, people unknowingly bring gnat eggs or larvae into their homes on everyday household items like on pieces of fruit, vegetables or from potted plants.The larvae then develop into adult gnats, creating infestations that seem to occur automatically to those who were unaware of the initial presence of gnat larvae.While some gnats are unknowingly carried into homes, others fly through many possible man-made entry points in houses and buildings.
Because of its small size, it’s easy for the pests to slip through even the tiniest of openings. Gnats can easily pass through small cracks and crevices, screens, and other small gaps that lead to a home interior.
Ways gnats can cost you time, money, and comfort
Loss of Food Stuffs
No one wants to eat something that has had gnats in it. Gnats are drawn to food so if you like to eat outside during good weather they can be a real problem. If you have to throw away food because of gnats, you can lose a lot of money over time.
Gnats Can Ruin Your Party or Get Together
Imagine yourself planning a garden party where you have carefully chosen the menu and made sure to have good wine, punch, etc. Gnats can make it impossible for your guests to enjoy their food and no one wants to have to fight to keep gnats out of their glass of wine.
Gnats Cause Eye Irritation
Your family, as well as your pets, can have irritation in their eyes due to gnats. Too many gnats on your pet can lead to drainage from the eye. Gnats often get lodged in the eye and can be quite painful and difficult to remove. Irritation can lead to more serious eye problems in some cases, particularly in outside pets that cannot get away from gnats as easily as people.
Solutions For Getting Rid of Gnats
Here are some ways you can get rid of and discourage gnats from returning to cause further problems. Prevention is the key to a gnat free home.
Keep Perishable and Sweet Foods Contained
We all know that a diet with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables is right for you, but they are lovely to gnats. Keeping some fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator will expand their life and keep gnats away. Some fruits and veggies do better outside of the fridge though so exercise some caution when it comes to this rule of thumb.
Get Rid of out of Date Foods Promptly
Perishable fruits, veggies, etc. start to go downhill pretty fast when you get them home. If you let bananas, tomatoes, apples, melons, potatoes, and other foods decompose in your kitchen for too long, you will likely start to see gnats unless your home or business is very well sealed. It doesn’t take much spoilage to attract gnats.
Keep Trash Bins Cleaned Out
Any trash bin, even those with reasonable lids will attract gnats if it has food waste in it and doesn’t get cleaned out regularly. Spraying with Lysol, vinegar, or any other cleaner will usually do the trick. You need to make sure there isn’t anything at all lurking in the bin. Food waste especially needs to be taken out on a daily basis to avoid smells and gnats. This will prevent gnats in the kitchen if the area is regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Keep Pets and Their Areas Clean and Tidy
Pet waste and food can attract gnats and can lead to a fly infestation. Remove uneaten foods quickly and make sure to clean up after your pet’s waste. Dirty bedding and other items can attract gnats.
While some pets may not need to be washed as much as others, keeping your pet clean is important to prevent gnats. Anything your dog wallows in may be attractive to gnats. In some cases, dogs that are already having a gnat problem may roll around in mud to keep gnats from biting them. There are plenty of sprays and some pills that prevent insects from bothering your dogs and cats.
It is important to use a flea and tick medication or a gnat spray that helps with biting flies and other insects as well if you can at all manage it. Your veterinarian can recommend a formula that is right for your pet.
Seal Gaps and Cracks
Your home may have more gaps and cracks in it then you know about. Get rid of gnats by finding gaps and cracks and sealing them you will not only prevent gnats from getting in, but you will also make your home more energy efficient. Cans of foam are convenient, and the excess can be easily trimmed away. Caulk is available at any hardware store and is a very cheap solution that you can paint over if you want.
Fix Broken Screens or Add Screens to Windows Without Them
Even if you have screens in windows, they can develop holes or tears that you might not notice. It doesn’t take much space for gnats to get in. Any hardware store or home improvement center can put the screen into any frame you take to them. If you are handy, you can do this yourself, but it is usually a lot more convenient and faster just let them take care of it.
Most of us have seen those sticky fly strips that you can hang places to catch gnats and flies. They can be pretty gross overall because they do a good job attracting flying insects. Let’s be honest, though, a lot of people don’t replace these very often, and they don’t look good. If you had ever run into one and had it get attached to you, then you know what we are saying.
Apple Cider Vinegar TrapWhat you need to do for this apple cider vinegar trap:
- Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- Small bowl or jar with a lid
- Dish soap lemon scented
- Mix 10 – 20 ml of apple cider vinegar,5 – 8 drops of dish soap in the jar. Stir the mixture thoroughly. Make some small holes in the lid about 0.5cm in diameter. Now put the lid on the jar and place the mixture trap at the infested place.
You can use jars with sugar water and holes in the lid to trap gnats. Just place the jars wherever you want and empty and refill the jars as needed. This is one way of concentrating gnats and drawing them away from areas you frequent.
Getting in Good Habits
One thing about gnats is that you have to be aware of prevention if you don’t want to have to deal with them a lot over the years. This is a major problem in households that have a lot of people and are very busy.
Teaching Good Habits to Kids
Kids need to be told the importance of not forgetting food in rooms throughout the house and how important it is to clean up messes promptly. Sticky spills are something every parent is very familiar with. Any spilled food or drinks that were left unattended can result in fungus growth. And any fungus growth will surely attract fungus gnats. As kids get older, they need to learn to grab some paper towels or similar and get the worst of it up. Younger kids can at least be taught to inform you of spills immediately.
Here is a hint: If you admonish them too much for a spill, they are more likely to try to hide it, and that can lead to a major gnat problem.
If you don’t plan on washing dishes immediately then at least give them a good rinse. If everyone remembers to do this or you take turns, then you are less likely to get gnats around your sink. Just putting them in the dishwasher will help as well. Any dishwasher has a rinse function that you can use until you have a sufficient load.
We all love our dogs and cats, but they can attract a lot of pests into the home if care is not taken. Pet foods that are not shelf stable when open can attract gnats so if Fido or Felix doesn’t eat their wet food; you can get a situation where gnats, flies, and others congregate. Make sure to feed pets at a regular time and do not leave food out longer than your pet wants to eat it.
Candles are one way to protect yourself and your friends from pesky gnats when using your patio or conducting any outdoor event or activity. Citronella candles and others that have essential oils that are known to discourage gnats are inexpensive. Tiki torches can be filled with fuel that has natural bug repellent in them. Just be sure to use care when using any flame, especially if conditions are dry. Flames should be where children cannot get to them or easily knock them over. Tiki torches can be placed alongside plants, foliage or gardens to get rid of gnats in plants.
Bug sprays are effective but are only a short-term solution. Of course, you want to be sure that sprays do not contain anything that you are not comfortable breathing in or possibly getting small amounts on your skin. If you tend to have allergies or skin conditions, then go for sprays around your home that are listed as either being safe for sensitive individuals or test out a small amount in one area of your property or home before using throughout.
Check out Your Sink Drains
Even if you keep every other area of your home very clean, the drain of a sink, particularly kitchen sinks, is notorious for harboring decomposing food that can attract gnats. Vinegar is safe to pour down your drain occasionally and will quickly get rid of gnats. Usually, people put a small amount of baking soda down the drain and pour a small amount of vinegar. The fizzing is totally normal.
Lemon Scented Dish Soap
Many people swear by lemon scented dish soap for keeping gnats off of plants. Just put a few quick squirts in a standard spray bottle and apply to foliage and around the base of the plant or tree. Let the spray dry for an hour or two and then rinse lightly with water. You can also mix citronella oil and water use a spray bottle to any areas affected by gnats.
Bleach Works but Is Harsh to Use
Many websites will tell you that you can use bleach to kill gnats. While this is true, pouring a lot of bleach into your sinks is not good for your septic system and other plumbing. If you have to use it once in a while that is one thing, but it is better to use another solution if you can.
If you are having a major bug problem or just cannot seem to get rid of the gnats no matter what you do, then you can turn to a commercial insect fogger. These are kind of a hassle to use because you will need to cover or put away any dishes and food, remove pets from the home, sensitive plants, and also stay out of your home for most of a day.
Foggers are set in the middle of a room and triggered. You then leave your home sealed for at least a few hours and then you will need some time to air it out. Under no circumstances should you enter your home before the allotted time is up. The pesticides can be harmful if inhaled. The plus side to foggers is that they often get rid of a myriad of insects all in one go.
Make Sure to Have an Insect Strategy for Outdoor Gatherings
Citronella Fuel and Tiki Torches for Large Gatherings
When it comes to large gatherings, it is imperative to have enough torches for the size of the party you will be having. Always make sure torches are well secured. If you have a choice, put them in a well-graveled area, or you can buy bags of sand to surround them with. This can be a fun and exciting decoration that helps your guests be more comfortable and keep the party going longer.
Plan Some Screened off Areas
There are many different screened structures you can purchase to set up for an outdoor event. A lot of people have these; you may be able to borrow some from friends or use a rental place to get larger tents. If your guests are not comfortable, they are not going to want to stay around so having some space that is screened can be a major help in orchestrating a successful event.
If you want to have a pleasant camping trip, a day at the park, or backyard party, then don’t forget to have plenty of bug spray on hand. Itchy kids are never fun, and adults are not going to be happy standing around and fighting off gnats. Choose a sensitive skin formula just to play it safe if you are offering it up to a lot of people.