Gnats or.. Is it fruit flies? Here is how to differentiate them

Robert James
Pest Control Technician

There you are, cozy on the couch, enjoying your favorite TV show when suddenly a swarm of flies starts hovering in front of you. Without much thought, you shoo them away.

After the show ends, you go into the kitchen to grab an apple only to find more flies wandering around. You shoo those flies away again, annoyed assuming them for the relatives of the flies you met earlier.

But are they really related?

It is something most of us do; mistaking one type of fly for another.

As for previous scenario, it is likely that you first encountered gnats in living room and fruit flies in the kitchen.

Fruit flies and gnats are the most common offenders when it comes to annoying people. Drain flies run close for the top position.

Apart from being annoying, these insects pose health risks to humans and other animals alike. Thus, it is essential to know what you are dealing to get rid of gnats or fruit flies effectively.

So, let’s get to know them better.

Fruit Fly: the fly in your kitchen

fruit flies vs gnat

Fruit flies belong to the large family of smaller flies known as Drosophilidae.

As the name suggests, fruit flies love fruits and vegetables, using them as feeding and breeding grounds. That’s the reason you mostly find them in the kitchen, or places where you keep your fruits and veggies.

Fruit flies are either tan, brown-yellow or brown-black in color. They have larger, prominent eyes compared to gnats. Adult fruit flies can measure up to 3/16-inches long. Their body structure is similar to that of house flies, but smaller.

Besides kitchen, fruit flies also love hanging out near trash cans and garbage disposal.

Gnats: the fly in your living room

getting rid of gnat outside

The species of gnats belong to the families of Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae and Sciaridae. Unlike fruit flies, there’s a lot of variation in diet and habitat needs between different gnat types.

Gnats love moisture, but there are some ‘biting type’ that feed on blood. Fungus gnats are usually found in moist soil near plant roots. Gnats could be dark grey, black or brown. They have a slender body with long legs which makes them look similar to mosquitoes. Adults can grow up to ¾-inches long.

Gnats mostly stay outdoors where they have plenty of access to moisture in the surroundings.

Here’s a summary:

Gnats vs Fruit Flies

GnatsFruit Flies 
●     Love moisture

●     Usually found outdoors with ready access to water

●     Look like small mosquitoes

●     Usually dark in color

●     Relatively large; adults measuring upto ¾ inches long

●     Love fruits, vegetables and other organic matter

●     Found in kitchen, trash cans or garbage disposals

●     Look like small house flies

●     Usually dark with bright color patches

●     Relatively smaller; adults measuring around 3/16-inches long

So, is it a fruit fly or gnat?

It is hard to distinguish fruit flies from gnats from a slight look.

In this article, we have discussed the differences that will help you differentiate between fruit flies and gnats. It will ensure that you adopt necessary methods for eliminating the concerned type.

Now, with the knowledge from this article, we hope you can differentiate between fruit flies and gnats.

Do let us know if it was a fruit fly or gnat in the comment that brought you to this article.

Also, if you have further queries, put them in the comments below for us to answer.

crosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram