A common sight on a summer evening at dusk is the sun shining through a gnat cloud. That cloud looks interesting from a distance, but things get annoying quickly when it's on top of you and your family. Besides, as with other flying insects that thrive on rotting organic matter, the possibility of gnats spreading microorganisms and ruining food stores is real. Where do these gnats come from, anyway, and what can you do to keep them away from your home and property? MosquitoNix® has all the answers to your common household gnat questions.
What Are Gnats?
There's not a lot of scientific consensus on what a gnat actually is. The name gnat often refers to a variety of tiny flying insects, including fungus gnats, midges and even fruit or drain flies, among others. Some bite, some don't. Some are carnivorous, some aren't. Some are attracted to strangely specific substances, such as one that universities have identified as an eye gnat, for instance, that's attracted to "the fluids secreted by your eyes."
Common household gnats feast on indoor plants, especially if there is mold growing on the soil. Sewer or drain gnats congregate around drainage pipes and reproduce on organic matter in its late stages of decomposition. For the most part, insects identified as gnats have long legs, a hump-backed body and thin wings. Their appearance is similar to mosquitoes, though gnats are much smaller, generally about 1/8-inch long. They often fly in swarms and, depending on the variety, can feed on plants, other insects, rotting fruit or blood. That means they can spread disease to both people and livestock.
How Do Gnats Reproduce?
Gnats build two things out of decaying organic matter: buffet lines and maternity wards. Like other flying insects, their eggs are barely visible, and the larvae and pupae can also be tough to spot. Gnats breed in moist areas such as compost piles, flowerpots, exposed garbage and other damp areas both indoors and out.
Females can lay up to 500 eggs over their lifespan, in small batches of about 30 at a time, on rotting organic matter. Eggs hatch in less than a week and larvae develop through a pupa stage over about three weeks. Adult gnats live about 7 to 10 days and reproduce almost continuously. The entire lifecycle of most gnats is about one month.
Where Do Gnats Live?
Some type of gnat inhabits every continent except Antarctica. They prefer warm, moist areas with lots of decaying vegetation, like forest floors, swamps and dense or landscaped backyards. Potted houseplants and drainage or sewer systems make spectacular breeding grounds for gnats, as are fungus-prone areas like crawl spaces, attics or walls with water damage. Commercial enterprises like nurseries and hothouses also have to deal with their share of these flying insects.
How Do You Get Rid of Gnats on Your Property?
When it comes to eliminating gnats from your property, the first thing to do is hunt down any spoiled food, exposed garbage or moist areas in the yard or under your house. Fix moisture problems and remove any decaying matter to eliminate fertile breeding grounds and reduce the number of gnats flying around in future generations. If you live in a hot, humid area, taking care of these gnat hotspots is even more important because they thrive in your environment. Without a plan to prevent a gnat infestation, you'll probably see even more of them all year long.
Gnats don't just show up in the summer and go away when it's winter. They can also reproduce inside your home, so it's best to think proactively to include indoor and outdoor pest control. Inside, you probably have house plants with moist soil that may become a breeding ground for gnats. Be prepared to move those plants outside or replace their soil entirely if you see a gnat infestation. Some homeowners succeed with remedies such as making traps with overripe fruit, apple cider vinegar or wine. For flying insects around your sink drains, simple pour boiling water into the drain to kill the eggs before they hatch and grow to adulthood. Strips of fly paper around windows or on a back porch or patio can also snag some adult gnats, but it's only a temporary solution.
When you're ready to eliminate gnats for good, MosquitoNix® can help. To truly get rid of a gnat or any other infestation, you'll probably need professional help. With traps, foggers and other solutions, the professionals at MosquitoNix can design a treatment plan customized to your needs.
We have over 30 years of experience helping customers take care of these and other pests quickly, efficiently and affordably. Contact our experts today and find out which of our services will work for you with a free estimate. If you would like to learn more about the different varieties of gnats and how to banish them from your home, check out our Pest Library. It's a fantastic resource to keep in mind whenever insects or other nuisance critters decide to overstay their welcome.