If you are familiar with fruit flies in your home, gnats can remind you of those pesky critters. They are also tiny flying insects attracted to sweet and rotting foods, and they can slip into your home without you even seeing them, and they can quickly become a major problem throughout your home. Learning how to get rid of gnats is an essential skill that every homeowner must know. Read on to learn more about:
- What gnats are
- Methods you can use to get rid of gnats
- Recognizing a gnat infestation
- How to prevent gnats
- When it’s time to call a professional pest service
We’ll also introduce you to a few of our recommended gnat extermination companies to help you start your search with reputable choices.
What Are Gnats?
Gnats and fruit flies may look the same if we just glance at them, but upon further inspection, they are quite different. Adult gnats have long, black bodies and long legs, while adult fruit flies have brown, rounded bodies, short legs, and large red eyes. Gnats are attracted to similar bait as fruit flies, such as overripe fruit and vegetables. However, they are also attracted to warmth and moisture, which is why they often land in your eyes and buzz around your face, especially when you sweat.
There are several types of gnats that may come into your home looking for food and a place to lay their eggs. However, the most common breed of gnat is the fungus gnat. These are the gnats most attracted to indoor spaces full of rotten fruit, indoor plants, and moist places to lay eggs.
Once gnats find a food source, be that ripe fruit, residue in the garbage disposal, or spills in the kitchen, they will feed and lay eggs, which soon hatch into larvae. It takes three days for eggs to hatch into fungus gnat larvae and then two more weeks for the larvae to pupate and reach adulthood. Female fungus gnats can lay anywhere between 100 and 300 eggs each day, and they live for about a week to ten days before they die. This means that gnats can multiply astronomically in just about two weeks, and before you know it, you can find yourself needing to come up with a treatment plan ASAP.
9 Ways to Get Rid of Gnats
Got gnats? There are plenty of DIY and store-bought pest control methods that can get these annoying critters out of your home for good.
1) Make an apple cider vinegar trap
Making a trap using apple cider vinegar is an effective way to eliminate gnats and fruit flies. Gnats and fruit flies are attracted to any vinegar, but apple cider vinegar sweetens the deal and is much more attractive to them. All you need is a cup or jar, some plastic wrap, a rubber band, and apple cider vinegar.
Place a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the jar or cup. Cover the top with plastic wrap and secure it onto the cup or jar with the rubber band. Then, poke small holes into the plastic wrap so that the gnats can enter the trap when they smell the apple cider vinegar. This trap works in much the same way as a crab trap — the gnats can enter the trap, but they won’t be able to escape. You can wait overnight or for a couple of days, then check the trap to see if it worked. The gnats should have made their way into the cup or jar by then, and you can dispose of them.
2) Hang fly paper
Gnats often move more quickly than fruit flies, and fly paper can be an excellent way to entrap them midflight. You can opt for window fly paper, which covers a whole window with sticky film, or you can use the more traditional ribbon fly traps and hang them where you notice a lot of gnats flying around. Within a few days, you can see the fly paper’s progress when it becomes full of tiny black dots.
3) Make a candle trap
For this method, you will need a candlestick, a taper candle, and a small pan of water. Place the pan of water on a countertop or table, and then put the candlestick in the center of the pan with the taper candle inside. Before you light the candle, make sure there are no other light sources in the room (close any curtains and turn off the lights). Then light the candle.
The gnats will then fly directly into the lit candle flame and burn up, or they will get singed and drop into the pan of water. The water will then drown them. This is one of the simplest and cheapest DIY methods to rid yourself of gnats, as gnats are incredibly attracted to light sources in your home.
4) Use a bleach solution
If most gnat activity comes from in and around your kitchen sink drain, these may be drain flies. If you have drain flies, your apple cider vinegar trap or fly paper may not be the most efficient way to get rid of them. In order to get rid of drain flies, you will need bleach and about a gallon of water. As is always the case when working with bleach, be sure to wear personal protective gear to keep your lungs and eyes protected.
Pour one-half cup of bleach into about a gallon of water. You can use a bucket or even an empty milk jug to make this mixture. With your breathing protection on, pour the mixture down your drain. Hopefully, this will have the dual effect of killing the drain flies living there and eliminating the organic material buildup they have been feasting on.
5) Try a bug zapper
Bug zapping technology has come a long way since those huge electrifying outdoor mosquito zappers most of us remember from childhood. You can get a device small and silent enough to place wherever the gnat infestation is the most intense. The zapper will draw them in with its UV light, and then they will disappear inside it. When you empty the zapper’s trap, you may be surprised (and maybe a little disgusted) to see how many gnats met their doom within.
6) Use old beer or wine
An old red wine bottle with leftover dregs at the bottom is a perfect gnat trap all on its own, and the same goes for a beer bottle. The bottle’s neck is the entryway into the beer or wine trap, and it works the same way an apple cider vinegar trap does — they can come in the bottle, but they cannot get out. The old, sweet alcohol will attract the gnats to the bottle, and for good measure, you can add a few drops of dish soap to the wine or beer remnants. This ensures that the gnats do not escape even if they land on the bait because the dish soap breaks the surface tension of the liquid, causing the gnats to drown.
7) Use a plug-in gnat trap
You can purchase traps that emit a sweet smell, attracting gnats and making them fly inside. There is sticky material inside the plug-in trap so that any gnat or fruit fly that enters does not come out. Some plug-in traps are even refillable so that if you look inside and see that most of the sticky tape has been filled up by pests, you can purchase new sticky inserts and continue the eradication process.
8) Insecticide spray
This may not be your ideal solution, but it can be very effective. Some people may be hesitant to use chemical sprays inside their kitchen near food. Still, a gnat infestation is more troublesome and lasts longer than a few seconds of airborne insecticide exposure. Simply get one of the many kitchen gnat sprays on the market and watch it do its work.
9) Leave it to the professionals
If your gnat infestation is simply too much to handle and you cannot seem to get rid of them even after trying some or all of these methods, it’s time to hire a pest control company. They have the experience, knowledge, training, materials, and tools to handle almost any type of infestation, and gnats are no exception. Let the professionals help you get rid of these nuisances where DIY methods fail.
How to Know You Have a Gnat Infestation
While the occasional gnat in your home is unavoidable, swarms may indicate a larger issue at hand. The following are a few telltale signs that you have an infestation on your hands.
- Buzzing around the trash can: Gnats are attracted to rotting food, and they can smell it inside your trash can if you do not empty it regularly. They will also use that surface to lay their eggs if they can find a food source.
- Gnats gathering around fruit and vegetables: If you see even a few of these tiny black flies, chances are there are more where they came from, and there are already eggs somewhere in your kitchen.
- Groups of gnats near moisture: In the kitchen, there are plenty of wet areas which may attract gnats, such as your sink, your sink drain, spills on countertops, and even under the refrigerator or your under-sink storage.
How to Prevent Gnats
What can you do to keep these pests from infesting your home? Here are a few helpful tips to make sure gnats do not come inside your home in the first place.
- Clean up all spills as soon as they occur
- Regularly wipe down all kitchen surfaces with a bleach solution, including the trash can, the refrigerator, and every corner and crevice of the kitchen
- Only purchase produce you intend to eat. If you think you will not get to any fruits or vegetables before they get overripe, prepare them to eat and freeze them for later.
- Make sure all food containers are tightly sealed
- Change your mop head, dish towels, and sponges regularly
- Get a trash can with a lid and keep it sealed when not in use
- Avoid overwatering your household plants
Gnats are attracted to moisture even if there isn’t a readily available food source, so be sure not to leave standing water anywhere in your home.
Hiring a Pest Control Company
If you’ve tried your best and the gnats are still going strong in your home, then you may want to consider hiring a pest control company to get rid of them. Don’t feel bad about calling in the professionals when needed — companies like Terminix have professional-grade equipment that can eliminate even serious gnat issues. It’s best to check out more than one company so you can compare services and quotes.
Best Pest Control Companies
When all else fails, it’s best to leave your home in the hands of a professional pest control company. Explore a few of the country’s top gnat control services below.
Terminix has a long history of providing well-reviewed pest control services — in fact, the company helps more than 50,000 homes stay pest-free every day. Terminix also has more than 300 locations across the country, making it a great choice if you live in a rural area with limited pest control options. With a generous general pest control plan and nearly a century of experience, Terminix has the tools and experience needed to wipe out any type of pest.
Terminix can be a strong choice for gnat infestations thanks to its Nix Pest Guarantee. Terminix’s Nix Pest Guarantee helps you rest with the peace of mind knowing that you’re protected — even if your gnats come back. If you find that your gnat problem has returned between visits, Terminix will return to your home free of charge to correct it. Professionals know that gnats tend to lay hundreds of eggs around homes they’ve taken up in, making this guarantee particularly useful for in-home gnat infestations.
If you’re an on-the-go homeowner, you may want to check out Terminix’s online tools that help you schedule appointments and services when it’s most convenient for you. The company is one of the only pest control services we’ve seen to offer a 24/7 phone line that allows you to connect with a representative immediately, no matter the time. Terminix’s team has also instituted an online chatting feature that you can use to connect with a representative online, as well as text-based alerts to let you prepare when your technician is en route.
Click here to learn more about Terminix and get your free quote now.
Orkin is a nationwide pest control company with more than 120 years in business and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Orkin provides extermination services for a wide range of home pests, including everything from annoying flies to massively destructive termites. Their team also connects with national pest safety and research centers to make sure their technicians are using the most up-to-date tools available.
Another major name in pest control, Orkin can handle gnat infestations throughout your property. Orkin serves 46 states with more than 400 locations around the world. Orkin provides both corrective and preventive pest control services — so no need to worry if you have multiple pests in your home. Orkin can take them out easily with their annual plan.
If you’ve received service from a subpar pest control service in the past and you’re hesitant to hire a new team, Orkin might be right for you. Orkin’s technicians receive uniform training, and employees must undergo 160 hours of preparation before visiting any home to provide service. Orkin maintains partnerships with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a number of major universities, which helps them keep their staff informed on the latest best practices in the pest control industry.
Click here to learn more about Orkin and get your free quote now.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I kill drain flies?
If you notice gnats are coming and going from your sink drain, these could be a type of gnat called drain flies. You can pour boiling water down the drain to kill the adult drain flies. After doing this, make sure to use a bleach solution to wipe down every surface in your kitchen and either throw out or bleach your mop head and towels. Those items may contain drain fly eggs.
Do dryer sheets repel gnats?
The Bounce brand of fabric softener dryer sheet has been found to keep gnats away, according to Michigan State University. You can place unused dryer sheets in cabinets and under your sink. This is best to prevent attracting gnats, not to eliminate an infestation.
Do gnats bite?
Fungus gnats, the typical home invaders, do not bite. However, they can cause damage to your houseplants. Although fungus gnats do not bite, some species, like the outdoor gnats known as no-see-ums, can bite and cause itchy red bumps on the affected areas. You can keep these away by using insect repellant on yourself and tiki torches around you.
Where do gnats lay their eggs?
Gnats prefer to lay their eggs in organic matter, such as potting soil or rotting leaves. Like fruit flies, they will also lay eggs on rotting fruit or germ-filled surfaces such as dirty mops and trash cans.
Today's Homeowner Rating & Methodology
Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically.
- Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score.
- State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability.
- Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
- Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support.
- Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher.