Gnats are a nuisance that almost every homeowner has encountered, especially because they live in nearly every part of the world! While gnats can come in from the outside, they can also reproduce inside your home and live indefinitely if not taken care of promptly.
If you find gnats inside your house, stay calm. Gnats typically come inside from open or cracked windows and doors and reproduce in moist areas near your home. You can then begin placing traps around the affected area and removing any items the gnats are attracted to, like rotten fruit or garbage.
It’s a bit easier said than done, however! So, before we dive into the list of things to do if you find gnats in your house, let’s first look at why they are a problem and how they got into your home to begin with.
Problems Gnats Cause Inside Your House
Gnats are annoying, and they come with their fair share of issues. For starters, the larvae of gnats can spread fungal diseases while feeding on plants.
The larvae will attack the seeds of their host plant and prevent proper growth. Larvae are more damaging than adult gnats, so it’s essential to address issues immediately.
Adult gnats lay up to 200 eggs and only take a few days to hatch, meaning you can go from a few flies to a full-blown infestation in no time. Talk about too many unwanted house guests!
Iowa State University reported that finding live gnats over a series of months indicates they likely are reproducing in your home. Whether you like it or not, the harmless gnat or two has now built a family inside your home.
About two weeks after the eggs hatch, the larvae will become adult gnats and live for about a week. If you don’t break the cycle, you will have generations of gnats in your home within weeks. In addition, once you find them on your food, you are more likely to throw the contaminated food away and thus are wasting money in the process.
In a bit of good news, gnats don’t bite, which is always a positive thing. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the issue because they won’t physically hurt you.
How Do Gnats Get Inside Your Home?
For starters, you might be wondering how gnats get inside my house. It’s like they magically appear! Understanding the cause will help you better assess the situation and eliminate the pest from your home.
A gnat can easily slide in if you have the slightest gap in your door frame or window. They also can fly into your home if you leave your windows or doors open on a nice day.
In addition, gnats can come in on produce or flowers and plants you buy at the store. For example, an adult gnat may have laid eggs on the items before you brought them home, and now you are giving them an open invitation to hatch inside your house.
Gnats can live in almost any climate, but thrive in warmer weather. The hotter temperatures bring on more gnat activity and they reproduce quickly.
The same report went on to say how gnats can complete their life cycle two weeks quicker in warm weather. Therefore, if you have a gnat problem in the summer, you want to tackle it as soon as possible.
What Attracts Gnats To Your House
You may not know it, but there are plenty of things in your home that are very appealing to gnats. Once you know what is bringing the gnats into your home, it is easier to eliminate the problem.
For starters, gnats are attracted to light and will seek it out. Utah State University reported how you would likely find adult gnats initially near windows and doors where light is coming in.
Gnats also love moisture and will appreciate it every time you water your plants. While watering your plants is necessary, make sure to only water the appropriate amount. Wet soil is more susceptible to fungus and root rot, which becomes a breeding ground for gnats.
Adult gnats won’t harm your plant growth, but the larvae will. Larvae do not survive in dry conditions, so ensuring you only water when necessary will help rid your house of a gnat infestation. Make a point to let the plant-soil dry in between watering.
Finally, gnats are attracted to rotted plants or flowers. The decay of plant material is an ideal breeding ground for gnats to lay their eggs.
Do I Have Gnats or Fruit Flies Inside?
You have something flying around your house, but are you sure you know what it is?
It’s easy to confuse gnats and fruit flies with each other. However, gnats are black, while fruit flies tend to be orange or brown. The two flies are not related, despite both being a nuisance to have around.
According to the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, gnats have slender legs with separated antennae longer than their head. The long antennae help identify them against other house flies.
You often see gnats walking across a surface due to their long legs.
In addition, you may notice drain flies around your house, especially in the bathroom or kitchen. Drain flies are attracted to standing water and often lay their eggs there. Drain flies are also referred to as moth flies because of their fuzzy exterior.
The most popular type of gnats are fungus gnats, which measure between 2-3 mm in length and are usually found around windows. The larvae of gnats mainly feed on fungi and decaying plant material but will eat through healthy plant roots.
Since it’s sometimes hard to distinguish which type of fly is moving around your house, it’s wise to use different tactics to help remove the flies from your home.
If you know you have fruit flies, check out our article on the 5 Scents That Fruit Flies Hate (And How To Use Them) that can help you rid your house of the pest.
Do These 7 Things If You Find Gnats In Your House
At this point, you are ready to tackle the gnats inside your house. Since gnats are usually harmless, you likely want to correct the issue yourself.
Gnats multiply quickly, and you may realize the problem is more than you can handle. Remember, a licensed professional is always a phone call away.
Here are 7 steps to follow once you observe gnats in and around your home.
1. Identify The Source Of The Gnat Problem
Before you start treating for gnats, you want to identify where they came from. Gnats are tiny and can get through small gaps in windows and doors. Since they are attracted to light, you likely will find them in these areas of your home. Black dots around these areas are a superb indication of gnats.
You also want to check for rotten produce or plants and any garbage attracting gnats.
2. Check For A Large Gnat Infestation
Check to see the severity of your gnat problem. Since they multiply quickly, you want to ensure they haven’t made their way to other parts of your house.
Remember, gnats enter through windows and door cracks but once they’re inside, they’ll end up reproducing in damp and dark areas of your home. This is because those areas provide more safety than lit areas. However, once gnats are fully grown and not trying to reproduce, they’ll be attracted to lighten areas as well.
3. Remove any food or trash items attracting gnats
Whatever the gnats are flying around should be removed immediately from your home. Rotten fruit, a full trash bag, or a dying plant will be hot spots for gnats inside your home. You can compost these items, but if you do, you may end up just attracting the gnats to that area.
If you do compost and have gnats, make sure to read our guide: How to Get Gnats Out of Your Compost (Step-by-Step Guide)
4. Use Sticky Traps to Catch Gnats
A mess-free solution to getting rid of gnats is to purchase sticky traps. Mosqueda Fruit Fly Traps do an excellent job at collecting gnats who have made themselves at home in your house. The non-toxic traps are double-sided and can lay flat on a counter or stuck into a plant’s soil.
5. Make an Apple Cider Vinegar Trap for the gnats
Pour apple cider vinegar in a dish, cover with plastic wrap, and poke with small holes. The gnats will be able to get in, but not out. Wait until it fills up a bit before emptying and replacing it with a new trap. This is one of my favorite at home gnat control methods!
6. Call a Professional to take care of your gnat problem
Finally, suppose your gnat problem has become overwhelming and nothing you try works. In that case, it’s time to call a professional. A professional can help better access the situation and dig deeper to see if you are missing the cause of the gnat infestation.
7. Use Other Homemade Gnat Traps
There are several home remedy methods of removing gnats you can try if you are still looking to rid your house of an infestation. When it comes to gnats, persistence is critical.
Sometimes, you have to move a trap around the house before you start noticing a difference in the number of gnats you find. Here are a few additional techniques to follow if you find gnats in your home.
- Make a candle trap by placing a dish of water and soap under a candle. The gnats will be attracted to the flame, fall into the mixture, and will be unable to get out.
- Leave a glass of juice out to attract gnats. You can also add a few drops of dish soap on top to ensure the gnats can’t get out.
- Pour diluted bleach down your drain to help eliminate any gnats which have laid their eggs in a sink.
- Add sand or gravel to the top of your house plants. Larvae thrive in the soil of your plants. You may even notice them wiggling around on top. By adding sand or gravel on top, you prevent them from getting out. Once the soil dries out, it becomes inhabitable for the larvae. It’s also a nice added touch of decor.
How To Prevent Gnats From Getting Inside
You might know how they got in, but how can you avoid getting gnats again? Prevention is vital for avoiding any pest inside your home, and it’s essential to stay on top of several sanitary items around the house.
Keep The Inside Of Your House Clean
Gnats can thrive once they get inside your home. The key is making your house uninhabitable for them to live and reproduce. The more susceptible your home is, the greater the chance an infestation occurs again.
Follow these tips to avoid gnats getting inside your home:
- Don’t overwater house plants. Limiting the amount of moisture in your home is crucial in preventing gnats. Any accumulation of water will make your plants susceptible, not only to gnats but also to disease transmission.
- Keep trash cans covered. Gnats will thrive in your trash can if they make their way inside. It also is an excellent place for them to lay eggs.
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Washing dishes are chores we have to do but often put off. However, leaving dirty dishes and standing water in your sink is an invitation to gnats. Ensure you empty your sink daily.
- Check over the food and plants you bring into the home. Whether you buy your produce from the store or straight from your garden, you want to inspect it for any signs of gnats before you bring it into your home. An easy overlook means a possible future infestation.
Check The Outside Of Your House For Gnats
While the problem may be inside of your house, you also want to check the perimeters to ensure there isn’t something on the exterior causing the problem. Unsure what to look for? We have you covered.
- Look for any standing water in and around your home. You might have a hose leaking that you didn’t know about. The moisture can attract gnats who will then find a way to access your house.
Any leaky pipe will also attract gnats into your house. Check every box when it comes to determining why gnats are found inside your house.
- Keep your trash cans away from your house. If your trash cans are kept outside your home, make sure they aren’t too close. The garbage inside is enticing to gnats, and the closer they are to your home, the more likely they will find a way inside.
- Check your exterior light bulbs. There is a wide range of bugs attracted to outside light bulbs, including gnats. The Xydled LED Bug Light does a superb job at giving you the brightness you desire without the added hassle of attracting gnats.
- Monitor the birdbaths in your yard. Your birdbaths may have flown under the radar when it comes to identifying gnats, but the standing water can be a breeding ground for the tiny fly. Ensure you are changing out the water often and no bacteria is growing from within. The birds will thank you too.
- Take a look at your garden and identify any potential signs of gnats. If you see any flying around, you want to ensure you take care of the problem before it gets out of control. Remember, the gnats can lay eggs on what you are growing, and once you bring it into your home, you are starting the cycle all over again. It’s wise to wash everything off before bringing it inside. You can also use coffee grounds in your garden where the smell helps prevent gnats!
Take a look at our article Coffee Grounds: How To Use Them To Repel Gnats to learn more.
Seal Any Cracks In Doors And Windows
It’s no surprise gnats can get in through small spaces in window and door frames. But, how can you prevent future gnats from getting in? Here are a few house projects for you to work on to avoid another gnat problem.
- Replace your screens when necessary. You want to ensure you check your door and window screens for wear. Screens can tear over time or even after a bad storm. Gnats don’t need much of a hole to make their way inside.
- Check for cracks in frames and caulk as needed. It would help if you should seal any cracks or gaps the moment you notice them forming. You will eliminate the possibility of pests making their way into your home by fixing it immediately.
- Check the foundation of your house. If the doors and windows are adequately sealed, check to ensure your house’s foundation hasn’t started cracking. Gnats can find their way through the smallest of cracks within your home’s construction.
Should You Use Chemical Sprays On Gnats?
If gnats have taken over your house, you may consider using a chemical spray to help eliminate them. But is it necessary?
The problem with using a spray is that you won’t be able to completely rid yourself of the problem. Instead, you might spray the gnats you see, but you aren’t treating the eggs, larvae, and gnats you don’t see.
The No Natz Botanical Bug Repellant is an excellent choice for eliminating gnats if you don’t want to spray any harsh chemicals in your home.
The spray is DEET-free and hypoallergenic, so you can feel safe using it around your house.
Spray the repellant every time you see gnats in your house. While the spray is made with essential oils, it’s still wise to move any food before spraying the insects.
If you are looking for other ways to deter gnats from getting inside, take a look at this article on 8 Scents That Gnats Hate (And How To Use Them) to learn about scents that can be used to rid your house of the pesky bug.
Final Thoughts on Gnats
While a gnat isn’t going to bite you, they still aren’t a fun problem to deal with. While prevention is always vital, sometimes, trouble ensues without warning. So, it’s crucial to start treating the problem as soon as you see evidence of gnats inside.
If you have a gnat infestation, you want to find where they are coming from, assess the size of the infestation, start setting up traps, remove attractive items in your home, and have your pest control professional stand by.
While gnats are a nuisance, there are ways to treat and prevent the problem. For example, following the necessary steps can help rid your house of the pesky fly in no time.
Christenson, L. D., & Foote, R. H. (1960). Biology of fruit flies. Annual review of entomology, 5(1), 171-192.
Cloyd, R. A. (2015). Ecology of fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.) in greenhouse production systems associated with disease-interactions and alternative management strategies. Insects, 6(2), 325-332.
Mohrig, W., Heller, K., Hippa, H., Vilkamaa, P., & Menzel, F. (2012). Revision of the black fungus gnats (Diptera: Sciaridae) of North America. Studia dipterologica, 19(1-2), 141-286.
Sansone, C., & Minzenmayer, R. (2003). Drain Flies (Moth Flies or Filter Flies). Texas FARMER Collection.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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