Facts, Identification & Control
Several Families and Species
What do they look like?
Gnats typically are small and long-legged insects. They often are weak fliers.
How Did I Get Gnats?
Moisture and organic material attract gnats. Some species prefer the soil of houseplants, while others seek out decomposing food debris in garbage disposals or on damaged and over-ripe fruit. Any wetness in the home or unsanitary habits could draw them indoors and once inside, gnats are able to take advantage of conditions that are favorable for continuous development and reproduction.
How Serious Are Gnats?
Gnats are a nuisance since they do not cause major damage to homes. However, gnats may threaten human health should they transport pathogens from their unsanitary development sites. Since fruit flies might contaminate food, and fungus gnats can harm potted plants, residents must eliminate potential breeding and developmental sites, since gnats will multiply and create an unclean environment.
Bites & Disease
Females of some species, such as the black gnat or black fly, feed on blood. These gnats have been known to carry parasites and spread diseases to humans and livestock. Due to the spread of river blindness and other health concerns, numerous programs have been established throughout the world to control gnat populations.
How Do You Get Rid of Them?
What Orkin Does
The most effective control methods require positive identification of insects, which is best conducted with the assistance of a pest control professional.
The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage gnats and flies. Since every home is different, the Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.
Keeping gnats or flies out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps—Assess, Implement and Monitor.
The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep gnats in their place…out of your home.
Signs of a Gnat Infestation
The main sign of gnats are the sightings of the adults as they fly about in the air.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Gnat is the common name for many small, winged insects in the fly grouping. Contrary to popular belief, these tiny flying insects are not “babies,” they are adults. The tiny flying insects that many people call “gnats” could really be fruit flies or fungus gnats. There are many differences between fruit flies vs gnats.
What Do They Eat?
Some species are excellent plant pollinators and feed on crop pests such as aphids and scales. Other gnats, such as the Hessian fly, are crop pests themselves. Depending on species, gnats can be biting or nonbiting and will feed on plants, other insects or blood.
Mating in Swarms
For some species, males assemble in large mating swarms known as ghosts. These swarms occur most commonly at dusk in large fields and above streets.
Eggs & Larvae
Depending on the species, gnat eggs are laid on land or water. Larvae may be immobile or capable of movement by way of rocks and water plants.
Adults range in size but usually are no larger than 33 mm. The larval and adult stages of the gnat are considered both beneficial and detrimental.
The best control for fungus gnats is to identify any plants that have wet soil and let that soil dry completely before the next watering. This will kill the larval stages in the soil. The adult gnats can be removed with a vacuum cleaner from windows and from around the plants.
Watering plants only when they need water will help prevent fungus gnat infestations.
For most gnat populations, their food source must be located and corrected if possible. Fruit should not be exposed to open air. Keeping fruit in the refrigerator protects it from gnats and also prolongs the fruit’s period of ripeness.
Electric fly exploders that electrocute individual gnats may help to control their populations outside but also kill many beneficial insects. Inside, insect traps that are plugged into electrical outlets work by emitting ultraviolet light sources. Flying insects are attracted to this light and are caught by the sticky surface of the trap when they approach.
Most of these methods address only individual, adult specimens. In order to properly treat an entire gnat infestation, including larvae, it is best to consult a pest control professional.