Gnats. You better know them as those little flying monsters usually swarming around houseplants. You don’t know where they come from but surely feel their presence which is very annoying.
Before we answer that question, let’s make sure the little flyers you are referring to are actually gnats. Gnats aren’t the only flying annoyance. There are other forms that resemble gnats. So, first, ensure that you are dealing with gnats.
This is how a gnat looks.
Martin Cooper, Wikimedia Commons
Wikipedia states “A gnat is any of many species of tiny flying insects in the Diptera suborder Nematocera, especially those in the families Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae, and Sciaridae.” When referring to the term ‘gnats,’ you are actually referring to the whole group which consists of numerous species.
Yes, there are various types of gnats, each with their unique behavior and habitats.
Sometimes, you can presume fruit flies for gnats because of their somewhat similar appearance. It is a very common mistake people make differentiating fruit flies and gnats.
Gnats have a small, slender body with long legs and antennae. They are not more than two-tenths of an inch in size. Adults gnats have a lifespan of approximately one week. The males usually move in groups called ‘ghosts.’
These ghosts are usually spotted during dusk. Males swarm until a female enters to mate.
At this point, you might be wondering - how do these tiny creatures enter the house or find a place in the backyard?
Moisture is essential for gnat breeding. After mating, the females lay eggs on water or moist surface to hatch. These hatchings then transform into larvae. Subsequently, these larvae feed on the organic matter before pupating. Finally, these pupas become winged adults.
It is hard to tell where no-see-ums come from as you cannot spot their breeding grounds. You only see them as winged adults when they become annoying.
Remember, gnat problems occur due to moist surroundings. It could a water puddle, moist soil in indoor plant pots; gnats will use these places to breed and be a nuisance to you. So, keep a lookout for these conditions.
Apart from being annoying, gnats do not pose a direct threat to us. That said, it is very likely that their breeding grounds could be a habitat for organisms that do pose a health risk for humans and animals.
In such a case, gnats will act as a carrier for diseasing causing microorganisms. They will transfer the pathogens to your surroundings which makes you vulnerable to health issues.
What kind of health issues, you wonder?
You are susceptible to any viral, bacterial diseases or any other disorders caused by infectious microorganisms.
Besides, some gnat types bite. Yes, there are some that like to act like their cousin, mosquito. Although they don’t cause any health problems, gnat bites can be painful and itchy with swelling.
Now with all the briefing done, let’s look at potential solutions to the gnat problem.
Concerning gnats, you have two options: either to prevent them or terminate them.
Prevention methods will drive away gnats but not kill them. Termination, on the other hand, will kill gnats.
The best possible strategy would be to terminate then prevent. This way you will kill the existing gnats and also avoid future gnat problems.
You might have a gnat problem in the house or backyard. Keeping that in mind, we have classified the solutions into two groups: in-house solutions and outside solutions.
Gnats love moisture, be it indoors or outdoors. Without realizing, you might be creating a favorable environment indoors for them to live and breed.
First, get rid of moisture indoors. Let the upper layer of soil in plant pots to dry. Keep the areas near the washroom and kitchen dry.
Additionally, you can prepare a solution of apple cider vinegar with dish soap to trap gnats. Gnats also love red wine so use some expired wine to lure them. Apart from these two things, you can also use essential oils or even hydrogen peroxide (for fungus gnats).
If all this is too much work, you always have the option of gnat spray or repellent. Vinegar solution, as discussed earlier, could also be used as a spray solution to combat gnat problems. However, take caution when using commercially available chemical repellents and sprays as it could be harmful to your children or pets.
Refer to this article for a detailed list of indoor solutions for gnat problems.
Getting rid of gnats outside, in your backyard, drainage or other places can be a bit harder. A lot depends on weather conditions. If you are living in a humid area, there’s a higher chance of a gnat problem. That said, you should always get rid of water puddles, stagnant drainage; anything that could be a breeding ground for gnats.
Once done with that, you can either use organic remedies like vinegar solution and wine or go with chemical treatment. Besides, you also have the option of good bug-repelling machines.
For outdoors, getting the place chemically treated would be better because of the extreme conditions.
Get more information about chemical treatment for no-see-ums and other remedies here.
We know gnats are annoying. Without the right knowledge and application, gnats will keep being an annoyance.
Thus, first, make sure the flying monsters you are referring to are actually gnats. Gnats, fruit flies and drain flies can look similar - them being tiny doesn’t help with figuring out the differences. Observe them properly to know exactly what it is - gnat, fruit fly or drain fly.
Once assured it is a gnat problem, you should get rid of the breeding grounds. Moisture is necessary for gnat breeding so keep your surroundings dry. This is a prevention measure.
To combat the existing gnats, you could go the organic way with vinegar and wine. Else, opt for any commercially available spray or repellents in the market.
We hope the information provided here helps you to get rid of gnats. If you have any queries and concerns, please put them in the comments below.