What Do Gnats Look Like?

image of a gnat

General Description

Gnat adults are small flies, have six legs, three body parts (head, thorax, abdomen) and one pair of functional wings used for flying. The immature stages of gnats include eggs, grub-like larvae and cocoon-like pupae.

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are about ⅛ inch long. One of the most commonly seen species of fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, has red eyes and “feathery” looking antennae. This species generally has a yellowish to pale brown thorax and a yellowish colored abdomen that has a few black bands. These flies are also called vinegar or pomace flies.

Phorid Fly

These flies are also commonly called coffin flies or scuttle flies. Phorid flies are small, ranging in size from about ⅛- ¼ inch long. They are yellowish, tan, to dark brown in color, depending upon the particular species. One of the more distinctive characteristics of phorid flies is their hump-backed appearance of the top of their thorax. Phorid flies usually do not have red eyes. These flies have a peculiar habit of running, stopping and then running again, rather than flying from one location to another – thus the common name scuttle fly.

Moth Fly

Moth flies get their common name since their wings look more like the wings of a small moth than a typical fly. These flies are up to ⅛ inch long with short, hairy bodies that make them look like they are furry. Also, the wing venation of moth flies contributes to the impression of being hairy. When the adult fly is resting, they hold their wings over their body in a “roof-like” position.

Fungus Gnat

Fungus gnats range in size from about ⅛-1/4 inch long. Fungus gnats have very long legs compared to the overall size of their body. Most the fungus gnat species are black in color and have a long, slender abdomen.