Walking into a swarm of gnats can be an unpleasant surprise. Individually, these insects may be tiny. However, when gnats congregate in large numbers, the results can be both aggravating and disorienting.
Why do gnats form large clouds at particular times and in particular places? And how can you discourage gnats from swarming in and around your home?
What are gnats?
The term “gnat” or “midge” commonly describes a range of small, flying, non-biting insects. These airborne bugs include:
- Fungus gnats
- Buffalo gnats
- Black gnats
- Fruit flies
- Phorid flies
- Sand flies
- Several other species
Many gnats do not live long enough to feed. Depending on the species, their life cycle lasts approximately four to five weeks — just long enough to mate and lay eggs.
What attracts gnats?
For gnats that do feed, scent is a strong attractor. Gnats are especially fond of fruity or sweet odors associated with their preferred sources of food.
Fruit trees, vegetable gardens and flower beds can all be very tempting to gnats. Gnats can also make their way inside your home if they detect the presence of ripening fruits and vegetables, food spillages, certain houseplants and open garbage receptacles. Further, humans use many bath products and cosmetics that contain fruity or flowery perfumes. Gnats will therefore sometimes zero in on certain scented body parts, including the face.
Gnats are also attracted to heat and moisture. They like wet areas both outside and inside your home. Inside, your kitchen sink can become a gnat magnet. In a swarm (or ghost), gnats may be drawn to people who are perspiring and may be most persistent around the moist regions of the face: the eyes, nose, lips and mouth.
Most importantly, gnats rely on moisture to reproduce. Immature stages (larvae) develop in standing water that collects in pools, ponds, clogged rain gutters or other wet areas.
How can you help keep gnats away?
An effective way to help deter gnats is to remove any of gnat attractors mentioned above that could be in and around your home.
Keep areas in and around your home clean.
You can greatly reduce the likelihood of attracting gnats by keeping your home clean. Don’t allow food (especially fruit, like bananas) or drinks to sit out, promptly clean up any food or drink spillages and use a sealed trash can.
Remove moisture from areas in and around your home.
Since moisture not only attracts gnats but also creates an environment in which they can breed, be diligent about preventing water from collecting around your home. Note problem areas related to your rain gutters, pet bowls, birdbaths or any low spots in your yard. Plumbing leaks should be professionally repaired as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Trap and remove existing gnats.
You can try to capture and kill gnats using a few simple and safe homemade remedies.
You can make a simple gnat trap using a mixture of red wine (or vinegar if you don’t want to waste the wine) and dish soap. Place this mixture in a bowl and set it out in an area (out of reach) where you have seen gnats active. The gnats will often land in the mixture in hopes of getting a meal but, because the dish soap affects the surface tension of the wine, they will likely sink and eventually drown.
However, DIY methods do often fall short of complete control. If you find that your gnat problem is too big for you to handle on your own, or you just want professional services from the start, then reach out to the Terminix pest control professionals for help.