Facts, Identification & Control
Several Families and Species
Gnats typically are small and long-legged insects. They often are weak fliers.
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. Depending on species, gnats can be biting or nonbiting and will feed on plants, other insects or blood.
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.
Signs of a Gnat Infestation
The main sign of gnats are the sightings of the adults as they fly about in the air.
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.
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. Watering plants only when they need water will help prevent fungus gnat infestations. Schedule a pest control inspection if you are encountering difficulty ridding your home of these pests.
Some Other Ways to Get Rid of Gnats
Most traditionally, people use fly swatters to kill individual insects. However, the most effective methods require positive identification of insects, which is best conducted with the assistance of a pest control professional. Pesticides require careful application, as they can prove harmful to humans and pets if misapplied.
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.