What are gnats?

June 29, 2021

On a beautiful summer day, you are sitting in the shade at the beach, and you are bombarded by tiny flying insects. Gnats are the culprit. The smell of your perfume, suntan lotion or just your natural scent draws the gnats to you. They are terribly annoying and often harmless. 

What are gnats?

The term “gnat” encompasses many species of tiny flying insects. Gnats are small black or dark brown insects with very long bodies and thin wings. Some gnats are biters, and others are not. The most common gnats found in homes are fungus gnats, fruit flies, and drain flies.

It is unusual to see a few gnats at a time as they travel in packs called clouds.

What are fungus gnats?

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Macro view of fungus gnats stuck to a yellow sticky trap.

According to the website Plant Natural Research Center, Fungus gnats (families Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae) are a common pest of plants grown indoors, especially where humidity and moisture are high. They’re usually first noticed when the harmless adults are seen flying around house plants or gathered at a nearby window. These non-biting adult gnats can become a flying nuisance. But it’s the larval stage, feeding in the soil, that can damage tender plant roots.

Adults are delicate, grayish-black, mosquito-like flies (1/8 inch long) with long legs and one pair of clear wings. They are not strong fliers and emerge from potted plants, especially when watering. Larvae or maggots (1/4 inch) have a shiny black head and an elongated, whitish to transparent body. They are most abundant in damp, rich soils and feed on root hairs, fungi, and other organic materials.

What are fruit flies?

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A mass of fruit flies crawling over a banana.

Fruit flies are very industrious. Their sense of smell is tremendous, especially when ripened or rotting fruit is available. These fruits or vegetables provided moist surfaces for the fruit flies to lay their eggs. They also prefer drains, garbage disposals, and other household items and places with a damp environment.

They do not need much space to enter your home and can slip through the tiniest of holes in your screens or gaps in your doors.

Fruit flies do not carry disease or germs but can contaminate food with bacteria or other pathogens. Fruit flies rank right up there at the top of the list of nuisance pests. They will not naturally leave your home but will continue to search for a new source of food and location to lay more eggs.

What are drain flies?

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A tiny drain fly taken at nearly 5X magnification. These are found in damp and humid places and are true flies.

Drain flies or sink flies are small and hairy, giving them a moth-like appearance. Harmless yet annoying, they can fit through the tiniest of openings. They love decaying food and organic matter, which is almost always available in drains and sewers. Because they breed in these environments, the transmission of disease is possible but still unusual. Interestingly enough, drain flies are nocturnal.

How do gnats and flies enter my house?

Pest Inspections Person Hand With Magnifying Glass Over Luxury House

Person Hand With Magnifying Glass Over Luxury House

Gnats are in your home because they have found “a home” with food resources and a place to lay their eggs.

  • Fungus gnats can be hitchhikers and enter your home in a new plant bought at the store or garden center.
  • Fruit flies love fruit! Do not leave rotting fruit on the counter or in your kitchen garbage bin. Outside, keep all trash cans tightly closed.
  • Drain flies breed in moist areas. Look for leaky pipes and drains. Be mindful of clogged or slow draining pipes. Organic decay matter is a feast for drain flies.
  • Gnats cannot see in the dark and are drawn to lights. Change outdoor fixtures and use yellow lights, especially fixtures close to a door or window.

Are gnats harmful to people and pests?

Not usually, but some gnats bite humans. The bites cause small red bumps that itch and can be annoying but not dangerous, similar to mosquito bites. However, there are cases where gnat bites can cause an allergic reaction. If you are unsure, contact a medical professional and seek assistance.

Female gnats need blood to reproduce. Therefore, they will feed on pets and livestock.

How do I get rid of gnats?

So often, getting rid of any pest starts with prevention and eliminating sources of attraction.

  • Clean infrequently used bathrooms, such as a guest bathroom, so stagnant drain water is not providing a host and attracting fruit flies.
  • Regularly use a garbage disposal cleaner.
  • Be aware of the materials in your recycle bin and dispose of the items regularly. Gnats and flies love fermentation sources- soda cans, beer bottles, and juice boxes.
  • Store fruit, when possible, in the refrigerator and airtight containers.
  • Examine house plants purchased at home centers and stores and avoid overwatering your plants

Can a pest control company help get rid of gnats?

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Accurate Pest Control is experienced in dealing with gnat larvae or eggs and adult gnats. A thorough inspection will uncover areas for treatment and suggestions for prevention.

Unsure if you have a gnat problem? We’ll schedule a good time to send out a technician to take a look. Did you know we offer organic pesticides? Find out more! Call us at 518-374-0357.

Happy 4th of July- stay safe and pest-free!

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resources: https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/houseplant-pests/fungus-gnat-control/  and https://www.healthline.com/health/gnat-bites

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