Updated On

December 21, 2023

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    We’re all guilty of it: at least once in all of our lives, we’ve confused fruit flies with gnats, or vice versa.

    How can you not be? They’re both teeny-tiny pests that you wish would just leave your home once they manage to creep inside.

    However, there are a number of striking differences between the two, and it will be beneficial for you to understand which is which. Keep reading to be able to recognize the differences between the two.

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    How to Tell if You Have Gnats or Fruit Flies in the Kitchen?

    Are you sure you’ve got the right insect in mind? Check out the sections below for more in-depth characteristics.

    Fruit Flies Everywhere, or is it Gnats?

    Both fruit flies and gnats seem to invade suddenly but through different channels.

    Fruit flies usually ride into your home as eggs embedded on the surfaces of fruit and vegetables, whereas gnats generally enter the home in the soils of potted plants.

    Gnats like to hover in groups, whereas fruit flies only congregate together when lots of food sources are present (for example: a bowl of fruit sitting on the kitchen counter).

    Are There Fruit Flies in Your Drains (or Something Else)?

    Oftentimes, you’ll spot a few fruit flies hovering around your kitchen, stopping every once in a while to take a slurp of a fruit’s juices. While this is gross, hear us when we say this: that may not be the only type of fly in your kitchen.

    It’s easy to assume that fruit flies will fly right into the drain of your sink, maybe to take a sip of water after they’ve fed. And yet, this isn’t necessarily the case. There’s another type of fly that lives primarily in wet drains called the drain fly, and to the casual observer, these two species of insects can look very similar.

    Fruit flies have very sleek bodies, while drain flies, on the other hand, have wings that spread out like a moth’s and a huge tuft of fur on their heads. One thing to know for getting rid of drain flies is that they tend to feed on stuff that is fermenting in your drain.

    Fruit Fly Infestation or Gnat Infestation Throughout Your House?

    Kitchens aren’t the only place that fruit flies can live, but it’s the most likely spot.

    If you’re seeing swarms of small flies in a room other than the kitchen, it’s probably a hoard of gnats.

    Why? Well, fruit flies love fermented food like decaying fruits, beer, wine, and vinegar. They’re usually not going to venture too far from the source of all of that, which is primarily found in the kitchen. Fruit flies wont bite, either.

    Gnats on the other hand, have a much more varied diet. While they do love the taste of fruits and vegetables, they’re also attracted to mold, plant leaves, and even blood. These items are not limited to the kitchen, so if you’re seeing a swarm elsewhere, look out, you’ve probably got gnats.

    Read Also: What’s the best trap for gnats?

    What Causes Fruit Flies in Your Home?

    So, fruit flies seem to just show up. How? Why? Keep reading to answer all your questions about who let these guys in.

    Is it Their Fruit Fly Eggs?

    Yes! This is the primary way that fruit flies get into your home in the first place.

    Female fruit flies lay eggs in fruit that’s just on the cusp of turning when ripeness is at its peak. This fruit is the primary source of fruit flies, and eggs are laid all the time in grocery stores and especially in outdoor markets, where pest control is nearly impossible.

    Once you bring home a fruit or vegetable with fruit fly eggs inside, you’re opening up your home to these pests. They hatch quickly and begin their life cycle immediately, causing an infestation to occur.

    Need help getting rid of fruit flies? Check out our detailed fruit fly control guide or get estimates for treatments below:

    One-time visit
    This one-time treatment includes an inspection, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up (if needed), costing $150 to $350.
    Monthly service
    Averaging $125 to $300 for an initial visit, this service includes inspections and treatments, costing between $50 to $75
    Annual service
    A recurring service that provides regular inspections and treatments once a year, costing between $125 to $500.

    What Causes Gnats in Your Home?

    All right, we’ve had a crash course on fruit flies, and little ways you can tell them apart from gnats. But what about gnat characteristics on their own?

    Where Do Gnats Come From?

    Usually, they’ll roll into the walls of your home in the soils of a potted plant you pick up from a gardening store.

    However, this isn’t the only way. Because some types of gnats are drawn to mold and slime, they can reach your home via drain pipes and eventually, make their way inside through the drains in your sinks and bathtubs.

    Also, never underestimate the small cracks in the structure of your home. It may not even be apparent that you have tiny openings, but little bugs and pests will always use that as an entry point to the warmth of your home if it’s available to them.

    Read Also: What are some good gnat repellents?

    What Attracts Gnats?

    A warm home is always an attractive place for gnats to take up residence. However, these insects are also in favor of damp plant soil, moisture-soaked crevices, stagnant pools of water, and sometimes, blood.

    Because there are several different types of gnats, it can be difficult to generalize what exactly each species finds alluring. However, it’s a solid bet that if you have moisture or standing water of any kind present over time in your home, the gnats will make a move.

    This means that more humid cities like Atlanta or Houston, TX, can have gnat issues throughout the year. Whereas a city like Omaha, NE, which experiences most of its’ humidity in the summer, will have a peak gnat season.

    Gnat Infestation: Should I Be Worried?

    Most gnats feed on rotting animal carcasses, decomposing plant matter, sewage and waste, and mold or slime. However, female black gnats have been known to bite humans and pets to feed on their blood.

    If you spot a swarm of gnats in your home, there are simple ways of eliminating them. It actually might be beneficial to you, in a way; without the side effect of a gnat infestation, many homeowners wouldn’t realize that they have a moisture or mold problem in their walls.

    How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies and Gnats

    If you know how to identify a fruit fly vs. a gnat, you can take the appropriate steps toward evicting them from your home. Let’s get into some methods for elimination…

    How to Kill Fruit Flies: Home Remedies

    There are a few different products and quality gnat traps on the market to get the fruit flies out of your way, but more often than not, it can be more cost-effective to go DIY and use some stuff you already have lying around.

    One trick to catch fruit flies is to simply leave a bottle of red wine out, uncorked, with a bit of wine in the bottom. The fruit flies will dive right down into the nose of the bottle to get to the wine and be trapped.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Another quick way to grab the fruit flies is to chop up some banana slices and place them in a jar or a glass. Cover the opening with a piece of plastic wrap, and puncture a few holes in the top of it. The fruit flies will be lured in by the scent of the banana, and not be able to find the top holes to fly out of the trap.

    While it can be daunting to try and eliminate every last egg, larva, pupa, and adult fruit fly that’s moved into your home, there are things that you can do to make your kitchen less hospitable to these pests.

    • Thoroughly wash your produce before eating
    • Seal fruits and vegetables in plastic, or keep in the fridge
    • Place some fruit fly traps around the kitchen to catch them in action

    Read Also: Where do fruit flies even come from?

    How to Kill Gnats: Home Remedies

    In much the same fashion as getting rid of fruit flies, taking the gnats out of your home will probably involve a quick homemade remedy out of staples you more than likely already have.

    Gnats are generally attracted to animal waste, sewage, mold, and moisture. Needless to say, these aren’t the kinds of things you’re going to want to put in a jar on your countertop. To catch gnats, you can use fruit or vegetables, just like you would for fruit flies. While gnats don’t go for these types of baits naturally, they’ll fly right toward them if they’re offered out in the open.

    If you’re looking for professional pest control help, use the tool below to get estimates from local professionals:

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    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Ed Spicer

    Ed Spicer

    Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management.

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