Gnats are quite bothersome home pest which belongs to the fly families. Gnats may refer to black flies, fruit flies, or fungus gnats which can be found infesting around the house. Depending on their specific family, gnats can be biting or non-biting, and feed on various foods—fruits, plantation roots, and blood. A swarm of gnats indoor can be a flying nuisance, while its larvae outdoor may do the damages and eventually kill seedlings and young plants. Hence, getting rid of them is crucial, and preventing future infestation will be necessary.
Adult gnats will likely invade the house through the drains or by simply flying into it, while its larvae stay in the soil, feeding on plant roots, eventually causes the plants to die. Early detection of gnat infestation is important because of the potential risks which may be caused by the critters. To know how severe the house and soil have been infested, you might want to do these early detection methods:
- Gnats—and other small flying critters are attracted to the color yellow. Hence, buying and putting some yellow sticky paper traps will help you determine whether you have a severe indoor gnat infestation. Place the paper or hang it in the spots you desire and are susceptible. Wait for several hours to see how many gnats are trapped. Few trapped gnats represent some more you have inside the house and under the soil outdoor.
- Gnat larvae stay under the soil outdoor or in your potted plants. To know how many you have, dice a potato into ¼ to ½ inch square and put it on the soil, around the plants which you want to protect, or the plants which have shown the signs of damages caused by gnats—wilting, rotten roots, dead leaves, etc. gnats should be attracted to these potato dices and you are going to see how severe its infestation to the soil is.
How to kill gnats
Once you discover gnat infestation inside the house, around the potted plants, or in piles of decayed organic matters, you should straightly find methods which can help getting rid of this pest before it starts to destroy the plants and infest the house further.
Trapping gnats are one of the most proven effective treatments for its infestation. To eliminate infesting gnats inside the house or in the potted plants, you can easily set up some DIY gnat traps, or simply buy them from the local hardware store
Do-it-yourself gnat traps
Mason jar gnat traps
The trap works by attracting gnats using shiny objects and kill them by trapping them with vinegar and soap solution. This trap is quite effective for trapping gnats inside the house—the fruit flies and black gnats, for instance, and definitely affordable. To make the trap, you will need:
- A mason jar, or any jar with a ring lid.
- ½ cup vinegar—apple cider one or any vinegar you happen to find.
- 2 tablespoon dish soap or detergent.
- A rubber band.
- Aluminum foil.
Follow the steps to complete the trap making:
- Pour the vinegar and dish soap or detergent and still well inside the jar.
- Cover the jar with aluminum foil and secure it with the ring lid or a rubber band.
- Poke some holes in the top surface of the foil and place the trap wherever you are seeing the critters flying around in the house.
- Change the foil and solution if it has managed to catch several swarms.
- Tips: some homeowners try to replace the foil with plastic wrapper and find out that this does not work because gnats are attracted to the shiny foil, somehow.
Bait bottle gnat trap
Most food sources can be used as a gnat bait, as this pest is likely to be attracted to a wide range of foods. Hence, to make a baited bottled trap, you can use fruits, solution, sweets, and other foods as the baits. Use almost anything you can find around the table. For making the trap, you will need to gather such things as:
- A soda or mineral water bottle.
- A cutter.
- A paper adhesive tape.
Gnat attractant—sweets, fruits, beer, orange juice, or any other things you have around.
To make the simple trap:
- First, cut 1/3 part of the bottle with a sharp cutter or knife.
- Put the cut top of the bottle upside down into the remaining bottle part.
- Put any bait you have chosen inside the bottle to attract the flying critters.
- Dispose dead gnats and replace the bait every one or two days. If using liquid for the bait, mix it with dish soap before poured into the bottle. Dish soap will be helpful in drowning and killing gnats by sticking their wings.
Bowl gnat trap
Any gnat traps you are using have the same principle—attracting gnats with baits and drown them to die. It depends on what gears you choose to perform the simplest trap at home. Bowl trap is one of the simplest one to try, and you will need:
- A serving bowl.
- A smaller fruit bowl with height less than the large bowl.
- Fresh fruit—banana, grapes, kiwi, strawberry will work.
- A cup of water.
- A tablespoon of liquid dish soap.
- Cellophane or food wrap.
- A knife or a cutter.
The steps are as follow:
- Put water in the large bowl and add sliced fruit in the smaller bowl. Fresh fruit has less aroma which attracts gnats, yet it stays longer before getting rotten. On the other hand, ripe fruit has stronger aroma but will rot faster. Choose either one, depending on your personal preference.
- Put the smaller bowl into the large one, and pour a tablespoon of liquid dish soap into the water in the large bowl to stick gnat’s wings.
- Cover both bowls with food wrapper, making sure that the plastic edge is tightly sealed around the edge of the large bowl.
- Poke some holes in the plastic with a sharp knife or cutter point. Do not poke too big holes which let the gnats fly away after enjoying the snack. A pencil point size holes work best.
- Place the bowl around the areas susceptible to gnat infestation and replace it when necessary.
Store-bought gnat traps
Although making your own gnat traps is not complicated at all, you can always decide to use the store-bought one, as this traps are affordable, simple, ready to use, and practical. The sticky traps are the most frequently used for getting rid of gnats and flies around the house. If you decide to buy this sticky traps, you will need to consider some simple things as:
- Choose yellow-colored sticky traps, as gnats—and other small flying insects are attracted to the color yellow more than other ones.
- Put the traps in the areas susceptible to gnat infestation, but keep it away from children and pets reach, as it may be poison hazards.
- Dispose of used traps with dead gnats on it, as it may attract other insects if not removed.
Killing gnats using hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
If you are facing fungus gnats—the larvae which stay under the soil, eating the roots of the plants, gnat traps used commonly indoor may not work effectively. Instead, a solution of hydrogen peroxide can be beneficial in killing gnats residing beneath the soil. To perform this killing method, you will need to prepare:
- Three-percent hydrogen peroxide solution—you can get it at the drugstore or a grocery store.
Do these steps:
- Mix water and hydrogen peroxide with 3:1 partition.
- Put the mixture into a sprayer or a bucket.
- Spray directly to the soil, aiming to the part of the soil susceptible to or has been infested by fungus gnats, or use a garden hose to water the plants and soil.
- Soil sprayed with H2O2 will fuzz for a moment after the spray, and this is normal. After several minutes, the fuzz will stop, while the gnat larvae die because of the H2O2 solution.
- Repeat the treatment regularly if you are still suspecting fungus gnat infestation.
Killing gnats using ammonia
If you spot gnats come into your house through the sink drains, you might need to perform a thorough treatment, since there is also a possibility that these gnats also use the drains as a breeding site. To kill gnat inside the drains, you need:
- Powdered or liquid ammonia
Pour ammonia directly into the drains where you see gnats are wandering around. Leave it for 3 to 5 minutes before rinsing it with water. This will kill both adult gnats and its larvae, leaving the drains gnat-free. For daily maintenance, pour 2 tablespoons of vinegar into the drains.
If you prefer killing gnats by spraying them with ant or insect spray, you might want to consider gnat spray which is less toxic than those canned chemicals. This more organic spray do not leave any harmful residue which put the family health in danger. To make the spray, gather the following ingredients:
- Rubbing alcohol
- 2 tablespoon eucalyptus essential oil
- 1 tablespoon peppermint oil
- 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
- 1 tablespoon food-grade diatomaceous earth
To mix these ingredients, here are the steps:
- Mix 500 ml rubbing alcohol with the eucalyptus and peppermint oils in a sprayer bottle and shake.
- Add the liquid dish soap into the mixture and re-shake well.
- Add the powdered diatomaceous earth into the mixture and spray it directly to the flying black gnats, fruit flies, or fungus gnats to kill them.
Although gnats can be easily gotten rid of, infestation in big number can be a nuisance and may cause damages to your plants and garden. The blood-sucking gnats might also bite you and cause the skin to swell for days. Hence, gnat controls should be performed to minimize gnat infestation around the house. These prevention methods can also be beneficial for those attempting to eliminate gnats from their living places.
Gnat control methods
Getting rid of gnats in the house
- Store food wisely
Gnats are attracted to strong aromatic foods, such as sweets and ripe fruits. Hence, be wise in keeping these foods to minimize attracted gnats. Keep all cooked foods covered and store ripe fruits inside the refrigerator.
- Manage house garbage
Gnats’ food sources also include garbage, which also produces strong smell they are attracted to. Hence, manage your house garbage. Put it inside an enclosed trash can, making sure there is no spilled garbage around it. Inside the house, you should remove drink spills and stains, and collect food crumbs and dispose of it.
- Change the bulbs
Gnats—as many other kinds of small insects are attracted to conventional bulbs. Sodium bulbs, on the contrary, are less attractive to gnats. Replacing your lights, especially outdoor, will be beneficial in combating gnat infestation.
- Minimize points of entry
Gnats may enter the house through small ventilations and windows. Hence, cover these windows and ventilations with fine wire mesh to minimize invading gnats.
Getting rid of gnats in the garden
Let the soil dry
Gnats do not lay eggs in the dry soil, as they need sufficient moisture for the eggs to hatch. To get rid of gnats, let the susceptible soil dry out. Put your potted plants under direct sunlight before watering it. If this does not work, re-pot your plants after changing the soil.
If gnats infest the soil in the garden, other than the potted one, mulch it so that the susceptible part can dry out to minimize adult gnats from laying the eggs on it.
Do not over water your plants
Gnat infestation is often caused by overwatering because it causes high moisture level, which is actually perfect for gnat breeding. Some tips on watering the plants to minimize gnat infestation include:
- Deep watering your garden and plants once or twice a week is better than watering it moderately every day, since this will keep the excessive level of moisture.
- Mulch watered soil if it is located in the shaded areas to let the soil dry thoroughly. This will give a balanced moisture and thus, minimize the possibility of hatching adult gnats.
- Gnats cause damages ultimately to seedlings and young plants. Hence, attaching yellow sticky traps to a wooden stick which is placed near these seedlings and young plants will help to catch adult gnats before they lay eggs or feed on these plants.
Immediately treat any infested plants before gnats start moving from one plant to another. Either vinegar dish soap or alcohol-essential oil solution is safe to use with plantations. Apply the spray to the infested plants to eliminate adult gnats and its eggs.