Gnats are one of the most annoying pests that can invade your home. They are small, fast-moving insects that can be difficult to eliminate. In addition, they can also be carriers of disease and bacteria, making them a health hazard. Fortunately, there are effective ways to eliminate them. In this article, we’ll explore 14 natural remedies to get rid of gnats in the house and yard.
What is a Gnat?
A gnat is a tiny flying insect belonging to the family of Diptera, including flies and mosquitoes. They are typically 3-7 millimeters long and can be found in many different habitats, including forests, wetlands, and even in homes.
Gnats have a short lifespan, typically living only a few weeks. During this time, they mate and lay their eggs in moist soil, decaying organic matter, or water. The larvae that hatch from the eggs feed on these materials until they mature and emerge as adults.
Although gnats may not directly threaten your home, they can lead to other issues. The species that can puncture the skin may potentially spread diseases and cause itching, redness, irritation, and swelling.
Identify the type of gnats in the house
Gnats can be a nuisance to both lawns and households. Here are the different types of gnats that you may encounter:
- Fungus gnats: These gnats thrive in damp environments and prefer decaying plant matter and fungi. They usually inhabit the soil of house plants that have been overwatered. Although they do not bite, their larvae can cause damage to your plants, while the adult gnats can be an annoyance.
- Drain flies: As their name suggests, drain flies are attracted to standing water. They feed on organic matter that accumulates inside drains and can breed quickly in these areas. You will most likely spot these gnats in bathrooms or near kitchen sinks. Drain flies do not bite.
- Fruit flies: Fruit flies prefer feeding on fruits and vegetables and can rapidly infest homes with accessible food sources. Unlike other gnats that prefer outdoor spaces, fruit flies are notorious for multiplying indoors. Fruit flies are non-biting.
- Eye gnats: These gnats are commonly found in areas with sandy soil, particularly in coastal regions. They are not biters, but the fluids that secrete from our eyes attract them, making them a significant nuisance to humans.
- Black flies: Also known as buffalo gnats, black flies are tiny biting gnats that prefer to nest near small bodies of water. Some people may have adverse reactions to black fly bites.
How to Get Rid of Gnats with 14 Natural Remedies
Gnats can be a persistent pest problem for homeowners, but there are several ways to tackle it. From simple DIY traps to professional pest control services, many options are available to eliminate these pesky insects.
1. Create a Homemade Gnat Trap
One of the most popular methods for catching gnats is to make a vinegar trap. To make a DIY gnat trap, mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, and a few drops of dish soap in a bowl.
The sweet and sour scent of the vinegar will attract the gnats, while the dish soap will trap and eventually drown them. If you don’t have vinegar, you can use red wine or overripe fruit to make a similar trap.
2. Use Flypaper
Another option is to hang sticky flypaper ribbons to catch gnats. However, be careful where you put them, as they will stick to almost anything, including your curtains, hair, and furniture. Avoid using them outdoors, where they can harm beneficial creatures.
3. Set a Fruit Trap
Create a fruit trap by placing an overripe apple or banana in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Punch a few holes in the wrap to allow the gnats in. Once the gnats get into the bowl, they will be trapped and can be disposed of easily.
4. Use a Candle Trap
A candle trap is an easy and cost-effective way to catch gnats. Fill a candle holder partially with water, place a candle, and light it. Turn off the lights and wait for the gnats to be attracted to the flame. They will either be burned or fall into the water and drown.
5. Try a Glue Trap
A glue trap, or sticky trap, is a paper or tape strip with an adhesive coating that catches gnats. Place these traps anywhere in your home that sees gnat activity. While they may have limited effectiveness for large infestations, they can be useful for catching gnats flying around.
6. Lure Them to Sticky Cards
Gnats are attracted to yellow and can be trapped on special yellow cards covered with a sticky adhesive. Cut larger cards into small squares or use small cards and place them on the soil in your potted plants. Once the traps are full, discard them in an outside trash can.
7. Install an Electric Insect Killer
An electric insect killer, also known as a bug zapper, can be installed on your porch or patio to deter biting gnats. When the gnats fly into the device, they are killed with an electric charge. While bug zappers won’t fully eliminate the gnat population, they can help reduce their numbers.
8. Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is an abrasive powder that can be sprinkled over the dry soil in your plants. It traps gnats until they die from dehydration. Apply it only when the soil is dry, and put some sand on top of the potting soil to keep the DE dry. Water your plants from the bottom while using them.
9. Drench the Soil
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacterium that occurs naturally in the soil. Bt var. israelensis (Bti) kills the larvae of fungus gnats.
Make a Bti drench following the directions on your product and saturate the soil in your potted plants. It will coat the plant roots without harming them and kill fungus gnat larvae that try to feed on them.
10. Let Plants Dry Out Slightly
Allow your plants to dry out slightly between waterings to kill any gnat eggs or larvae in the soil. If your pots don’t already have drainage holes, make some.
11. Use a Natural Spray
For smaller infestations, a simple spray of vinegar and dish soap can be effective. If the gnats hover around your houseplants, you may be overwatering them.
To treat this issue, mix neem oil or dish soap with warm water and spray it onto the plant. Remember to wash the solution off after two hours.
12. Clean Your Drains with Bleach
Gnats are attracted to damp areas, so they may be breeding in your kitchen or bathroom drains. To kill them, pour a cup of diluted bleach down each drain or garbage disposal very slowly. Repeat this process until you no longer see any gnats.
Repotting your plants involves transferring them to new containers with fresh potting soil. This can be an effective way to get rid of gnats, as it removes any eggs or larvae that may be present in the soil.
To repot your plants, gently remove them from their current containers. Be careful not to damage the roots as you do this. Once you have removed the plant, gently shake off as much old soil as possible. This will help to remove any gnat larvae or eggs that may be present.
14. Hire a Professional Pest Control Company
If your gnat infestation is severe or persists despite your efforts, it may be time to call the professionals. Pest control companies have expertise in treating gnat larvae and adult gnats.
And they can create a customized treatment plan for your home. While this option may be more costly, it can effectively eliminate gnats for good.
How to Get Rid of Gnats Outdoor?
If you’ve spent time outdoors, chances are you’ve encountered those pesky little gnats buzzing around your head or biting your skin. Here are some ways to get rid of them.
1. Use a Mosquito Dunk
Instead of using a Bti drench that saturates outdoor plants, consider using a mosquito dunk labeled safe for pets and wildlife. Drop the dunk in a watering can or bucket and let it sit until the insect-killing bacteria release into the water.
Then, pour the water over the soil of your outdoor plants. Repeat this process for several weeks to ensure that any gnat larvae in the soil are killed.
2. Avoid Electric Pest Traps
While electric pest traps may seem quick and easy, they can do more harm than good. These traps often kill beneficial insects along with gnats, disrupting the natural balance of your garden.
Instead, try using traps that attract gnats with ultraviolet lights. While these traps only catch adult gnats, they can help reduce the overall population.
3. Switch to Yellow “Bug Lights”
Some types of gnats are attracted to outdoor lights, making them a nuisance when trying to enjoy your backyard. To deter them, consider switching to yellow “bug lights” or low-voltage bulbs. Alternatively, you can turn off lights near doors and windows.
4. Protect Yourself from Biting Midges
If you’re getting bitten by tiny insects but can’t see what’s causing the problem, you may be dealing with biting midges, also known as sand gnats or no-see-ums.
To avoid them, try to stay indoors on damp, overcast days when the air is still. When you go outside, cover up with insect-repellant clothing and use insect repellents that contain DEET or other proven insecticides.
How to prevent gnats in the house and yard?
After getting rid of gnats in your home, it is crucial to prevent another infestation. Here are some helpful tips:
- Clean up food and drinks immediately: Avoid leaving food or drinks out after meals and wipe up any spills as soon as they happen.
- Use a sealed trash can and take out trash nightly: Gnats are attracted to items in the trash, so using a sealed trash can and disposing of your garbage nightly can prevent gnats from entering your home.
- Water indoor plants only when necessary: Overwatering your plants can create a moist environment that gnats are drawn to for moisture and to lay eggs.
- Refrigerate fruits: Gnats are attracted to the sweet scent of fruit, so storing them in the refrigerator can prevent attracting gnats into your home.
- Reduce humidity levels: Fix any plumbing leaks and clear any damp areas, including gutters and birdbaths, to prevent outdoor gnat problems.
- Place preventive sticky traps: Position these near potential trouble spots, such as near ripe fruit or houseplants, to prevent infestations. For optimal results, try using GreenKeeper’s Stick Traps.
- Maintain clean drains: Clean your drains regularly with diluted bleach or specialized cleaning solutions to remove food particles and fungus gnat larvae.
- Don’t overwater plants: Indoor plants can be a habitat for gnats, and overwatering them can result in damp potting soil perfect for breeding an infestation. Ensure your plants have proper drainage, and adjust your watering schedule if you see gnats hovering around your houseplants.
- Inspect new plants for gnats: Before bringing any new plants into your household, inspect them carefully for any signs of gnats, as they can also carry gnats into your home.
By following these simple tips, you can help prevent gnats from infesting your home in the future.