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Gnats

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What Are Gnats?

Gnats are small, flying insects that belong to the order Diptera, which includes flies. They are characterized by their slender bodies, long legs, and distinctive wing structure. Gnats can be found in various environments, including gardens, wetlands, and homes. There are several types of gnats - here are several of the most common ones:

  • Fungus Gnats (Sciaridae): These gnats are often encountered indoors, particularly around potted plants. They are attracted to decaying organic matter and fungi in the soil. Fungus gnats are generally harmless but can be a nuisance for houseplants.

  • Fruit Flies (Drosophilidae): While often called fruit flies, these insects are technically small gnats. They are attracted to overripe fruits and sugary substances. Fruit flies can become pests in kitchens and fruit storage areas.

  • Black Gnats (Bibionidae): These gnats are often seen in large numbers in early spring, especially around moist areas like wetlands and swamps. They are not typically considered pests.

  • Sand Gnats (Ceratopogonidae): Sand gnats, also known as "no-see-ums" or biting midges, are tiny but can be highly annoying due to their painful bites. They are prevalent in coastal and marshy regions.

  • Eye Gnats (Chloropidae): Eye gnats are attracted to eye secretions and can be a nuisance to humans and animals. They are commonly found in agricultural areas.

  • Drain Flies (Psychodidae): Drain flies, often called "moth flies" or "sewer flies," are associated with damp, organic-rich environments like drains, sewers, and septic tanks.

Controlling gnats depends on the species and the location where they are causing problems. For indoor infestations, removing breeding sites, maintaining cleanliness, and using traps or insecticides can help manage the issue. Outdoors, addressing the conditions that attract gnats, such as standing water or decaying organic matter, can be effective. Gnats serve as essential components of ecosystems by helping decompose organic matter, but their presence can be bothersome when they become pests.

Gnats In Your House?

Dealing with gnats in your house can be frustrating, but there are several effective steps you can take to eliminate them and prevent their return. Here's a guide on how to address a gnat infestation in your home:

Identify the Source: First, try to identify the source of the gnat infestation. Gnats are often attracted to moist environments and sources of decaying organic matter. Common breeding grounds for gnats indoors include overwatered houseplants, standing water in sinks or drains, spoiled food, or damp, unclean areas.

Remove Breeding Sites: Once you've identified the source, take steps to eliminate it:

  • Reduce watering for houseplants and allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
  • Repair any leaking faucets or pipes that create moisture buildup.
  • Clean and sanitize sinks, drains, and garbage disposal units to eliminate organic matter where gnats can breed.
  • Dispose of overripe fruits and vegetables promptly.
  • Keep trash cans sealed and empty them regularly.
  • Check for damp spots in your home and address any leaks or water damage.

Clean and Sanitize: Thoroughly clean and sanitize areas where gnats are present. This includes kitchen counters, sinks, and any other surfaces where food particles may accumulate. Regular cleaning helps eliminate potential food sources and breeding sites.

Use Traps: You can set up gnat traps to capture adult gnats. Commercial sticky traps or DIY traps using vinegar or fruit juice can be effective. Place these traps near gnat-prone areas, such as near houseplants or fruit bowls.

Natural Remedies: Consider using natural remedies to deter gnats:

  • Apple cider vinegar trap: Fill a container with apple cider vinegar and a drop of dish soap, cover it with plastic wrap, and poke small holes in the wrap. Gnats will be attracted to the vinegar and get trapped.
  • Essential oils: Some essential oils, such as citronella or lavender, can repel gnats. You can dilute a few drops in water and use it as a spray in gnat-prone areas.

Insecticides: If the infestation is severe, you may consider using an insecticide specifically formulated for gnats. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label carefully and take appropriate safety precautions.

Improve Ventilation: Improve ventilation in your home by using fans or opening windows to reduce humidity, as gnats thrive in humid environments.

Prevent Reinfestation: To prevent gnats from returning:

  • Continue to practice good hygiene and sanitation in your home.
  • Regularly inspect houseplants for signs of overwatering or fungus gnats.
  • Seal cracks and gaps in doors, windows, and walls to prevent gnats from entering your home.
  • Store fruits and vegetables in sealed containers or the refrigerator.
  • Clean and maintain drains regularly.

Be Patient: It may take some time to completely eliminate a gnat infestation, as newly hatched gnats can continue to emerge from breeding sites. Be patient and persistent in your efforts.

If your gnat problem persists despite your best efforts, consider seeking professional pest control services. Our team of experts can assess the situation and use specialized treatments to eliminate the infestation effectively.

Learn more: How To Get Rid Of Gnats

Gnat Diet

Gnats have diverse diets depending on their species and life stage. Here's what gnats typically eat:

  • Fungus Gnats (Sciaridae): Fungus gnats primarily feed on fungi, mold, and decaying organic matter found in moist soil. The larvae of these gnats feed on fungi and organic material in the soil, especially in potted plants. Adult fungus gnats may feed on nectar and other sugary substances.
  • Fruit Flies (Drosophilidae): Fruit flies are attracted to overripe fruits and vegetables. Their larvae, often referred to as maggots, feed on the fermenting sugars present in decaying organic matter. They can also be found near vinegar, wine, and other alcoholic beverages.
  • Black Gnats (Bibionidae): The exact dietary habits of black gnats vary among species. In their larval stage, they feed on decaying organic matter, roots, or even grass. Adult black gnats may feed on nectar and other plant exudates.
  • Sand Gnats (Ceratopogonidae): Sand gnats, or no-see-ums, primarily feed on the blood of vertebrates, including mammals, birds, and sometimes humans. Their bites can be painful and irritating.
  • Eye Gnats (Chloropidae): Eye gnats are attracted to eye secretions, tears, and mucus, which provide them with essential nutrients. They can be a nuisance to humans and animals.
  • Drain Flies (Psychodidae): The larvae of drain flies, or moth flies, feed on the organic material that accumulates in damp drains and sewer systems. Adult drain flies feed on sugary substances like nectar and plant exudates.

The dietary preferences of gnats vary widely, with some species feeding on decaying organic matter, fungi, and plants, while others, such as sand gnats and eye gnats, may feed on blood or eye secretions. Understanding the specific feeding habits of the gnat species in question is essential for effective pest control or management.

Learn more: What Do Gnats Eat?

Gnat Bites

Gnat bites, often referred to as gnat stings, are irritating skin reactions that occur when certain species of gnats feed on the blood of their host. These tiny insects have specialized mouthparts designed for piercing and sucking, allowing them to access blood vessels beneath the skin. Gnat bites can cause discomfort, itching, and sometimes minor swelling or redness at the site of the bite. Here is an explanation of gnat bites:

Gnat Species That Bite: Not all gnats are blood-feeding insects. The gnats that are known to bite humans and animals belong to the family Ceratopogonidae, commonly known as biting midges or no-see-ums, and to a lesser extent, some species of black flies. These gnats have mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and obtaining blood meals.

Identification of Gnat Bites: Gnat bites typically appear as small, red, itchy welts on the skin. They can be solitary or clustered, depending on how many gnats have fed on the individual. The bites are often smaller than mosquito bites and may have a more intense itch.

Symptoms: The primary symptom of gnat bites is itching, which can be quite intense and bothersome. Other common symptoms may include mild pain or discomfort at the site of the bite, redness, and in some cases, minor swelling. Scratching the bites can lead to the risk of infection or increased irritation.

Duration: Gnat bites usually heal within a few days to a week, depending on an individual's sensitivity and the extent of scratching. Avoiding scratching is essential to prevent complications.

Treatment and Relief: To alleviate the discomfort caused by gnat bites, you can:

  • Wash the affected area with mild soap and water to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or ointment containing ingredients like hydrocortisone or calamine lotion.
  • Take antihistamines (oral or topical) to reduce itching and inflammation.
  • Avoid scratching the bites to prevent infection or scarring.
  • Applying a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth can provide temporary relief from itching and swelling.

Prevention: Preventing gnat bites involves minimizing exposure to these insects:

  • Use insect repellents that are effective against biting gnats. Products containing DEET or picaridin are good choices.
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants when venturing into areas where gnats are prevalent.
  • Use fine-meshed screens on windows and doors to keep gnats out of your living spaces.
  • Avoid outdoor activities during dawn and dusk when gnats are most active.

When to Seek Medical Attention: Gnat bites are usually not a cause for serious concern, but in rare cases, individuals may experience allergic reactions or develop infections from scratching. If you notice signs of infection (increased redness, warmth, pus, or worsening pain) or have a severe allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat), seek immediate medical attention.

Gnat bites are skin reactions caused by certain species of blood-feeding gnats. While they are generally not serious, the itching and discomfort they cause can be bothersome. Taking preventive measures and using appropriate treatments can help alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of complications associated with gnat bites.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gnats

Do gnats bite?

Yes, some species of gnats can bite. Female gnats, particularly those belonging to certain groups like biting midges (Ceratopogonidae) and black flies (Simuliidae), are known to bite humans and animals. They feed on blood to obtain nutrients for egg development. Gnat bites can cause skin irritation, redness, itching, and sometimes allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. However, not all gnats are biters; many species primarily feed on nectar and other plant fluids.

Learn more: Do Gnats Bite?

What do gnats look like?

Gnats are small flying insects that typically measure around 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3-6 mm) in length. They have slender bodies with long, delicate legs and two clear or translucent wings. Gnats are often gray, brown, or black in color, but their appearance can vary depending on the species. Their most distinctive feature is their long, thread-like antennae, which are often longer than their bodies. Gnats have a relatively short lifespan and are commonly found near moist environments such as decaying organic matter, overripe fruit, and damp soil. Their small size and delicate appearance distinguish them from other flying insects like mosquitoes and flies.

Learn more: What Do Gnats Look Like?

What do gnat eggs look like?

Gnat eggs are tiny, oval-shaped, and usually translucent or whitish in color. They are typically barely visible to the naked eye and measure around 0.5 to 1 millimeter in length. Gnats, like many insects, lay their eggs in moist or decaying organic matter, such as soil, decaying vegetation, or damp areas. The eggs are often clustered together in groups, and they have a smooth surface. As they develop, gnat eggs may change in color and size, eventually hatching into gnat larvae.

Learn more: What Do Gnat Eggs Look Like?

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