It’s extremely annoying when you find gnats living in your home. Gnats feed and breed around moist soil, so this is why they often end up in your house uninvited looking for food, especially if you’re someone with many houseplants. Additionally, each type of gnat has a different personality and common habitat, so you can find them anywhere from your kitchen to any room in your home.
Once you discover that you have an infestation of types of gnats in your home, it’s important that you work to take steps to fix and address the issue before it gets any worse. In order to get rid of them, you have to be able to identify the type of gnat you have in your home.
These tiny pests are part of the fly family, and they won’t travel very far from moist soil because this is where they lay their eggs. Due to this fact, it can be easy for you to find their feeding ground and breeding areas. So, we’re going to outline the most popular types of gnats you can find around your house as well as a few ways to get rid of them below.
Where Gnats Come From
If you have a gnat infestation in your home, one of the first things that runs through your mind is where are they coming from? Also, what is attracting them to your home? You can find gnats in a range of different places, and the type of gnat you spot depends on the source of the problem and where they are.
The fungus gnat is the most common type of gnat found in homes, and it tends to hover around your houseplants. You can also bring them inside with plants you buy from the store, and they can make their way inside by slipping through small holes in the window screens or gaps in the window frames or around doors.
On the other end of the spectrum, non-biting midges are usually around fresh water sources and moist soil. So, if you have sand, mud, or decomposing plants on your property, you could find biting midges floating around the yard. Gnats hone in on scent, organic matter, and moisture. So, it’s critical that you keep your property free of decaying greenery, excess moisture, and sweet scents.
16 Types of Gnats
Gnats are constantly around you. However, they tend to habitually make their way inside as the temperature outside drops during the winter months. Here are 16 of the most popular types of gnats you can find inside your home.
1. Blow Flies
This type of gnat hangs around decaying animals, and this makes them very gross and unhygienic. This is at odds with how colorful they can appear under the right lighting. Their bodies have a metallic sheen to them that shifts between duo chromatic green and blue coloring.
The length of these gnats ranges from ¼ to ½ inches, and they look fairly strong. They have larger maroon-colored heads and a lighter shade of maroon on the eyes. These flies will usually infest flowers, soil, plants, or sugary nooks in the home. The females can branch out a bit and lay their eggs in dead animal bodies.
2. Buffalo Gnats
The buffalo gnat is also called the turkey gnat or the black fly, and it comes with a humpbacked appearance. It can be shades of tan, green, or gray, and it will get roughly ⅛ inch long. You’ll typically find this type of gnat around in the late spring months to the early summer by streams and lakes. They like to lay their eggs by very fast-moving water.
The male buffalo gnats will only eat nectar from plants, but the females are attracted to animals, birds, and humans. They bite their victim to gather the protein they need to produce eggs. These gnats are attracted to sweat, carbon dioxide, and dark objects that are moving around.
If you’re attempting to work or play outside, this type of gnat can be an irritant. They will bite around the neck area, and they can kill animals. It’s common for chickens to suffocate and die when this gnat clogs their respiratory tract.
3. Common Housefly
You’ve seen this type of gnat buzzing around your home at one point or another. They come with bodies that are usually ⅙ to ¼ inches long. The flies also have black and white striping all over them, no matter how old they are. Adult flies will develop a sharply-angled fourth vein in their wings that you don’t see on the younger ones, and the extra vein gives them a slightly fuller look.
The female house flies have a wider space between the eyes than the males, and both males and females have velvety eyes that get separated by two gold and silver lines. Even though these flies don’t bite, they can spread diseases by transferring bacteria using their hairy legs. They can spread upwards up to 65 diseases this way.
4. Drain Flies
This is a fluffy type of gnat, and you can consider them to be the tarantula version of gnats. They’re relatively small in size, and they tend to only hang around moist places that have a buildup of nutrient-rich organic materials. Inside, you can find them around pipes or drains that have been leaking for some time. Outside, these types of gnats are around compost piles or logs.
Any place in your home or yard that you can find nutritious, moist, decaying matter will draw this insect. They can also reproduce very quickly in large numbers. It only takes 48 hours for the eggs to hatch after laying. The larvae will get up to five millimeters long. As they start to mature, they’ll start growing tiny hairs on their body, feet, and hands to give them the fluffy appearance the adults have. The wings are tan or light gray.
5. Dung Flies
The dung fly is also known as Sphaerocerid flies, but the dung fly name seems to suit them better as they are born in manure. There are two different types of gnats that fall into this category: the lesser dung fly and yellow dung flies. Yellow dung flies are a very bright yellow shade while lesser dung flies are almost black. They don’t tend to infest your home as they need to get their nutrients from dung, small insects, or nectar flowers.
6. Eye Gnats
Even though there are several types of gnats that can disturb you, few do as good of a job as the eye gnat. They’re highly attracted to the liquid in a living beings’ eyes and ears. You may also hear them referred to as the grass fly, but most people call them eye gnats. The name is unfortunately very accurate. They like to fly into the eyes, noses, and ears of living creatures, including people. These are the gnats you find in large clouds floating around the yard that you routinely walk through.
7. Fruit Flies
This type of gnat comes with a tiny yellow-hued body, and they’re only a third the size of the common housefly, so this makes them easy to spot. As the name suggests, you’re most likely to see them around vegetables and fruits. You may also find them thriving in the bathroom as they’re also attracted to trash bins, drains, and mops.
Unlike what many people believe, this type of gnat doesn’t come inside purely for fruit. Instead, they’re highly attracted to fermenting matter. So, any warm and moist corners in the kitchen or bathroom, overripe fruit, and sweet drinks can pull them in. Fruit flies are dangerous because they’re capable of transferring germs around the area. They can spread listeria, Salmonella, and E.coli quite easily.
8. Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats are also known as winter gnats, and this dark-colored, tiny type of gnat is only ⅛ of an inch long. Even the adults are very little. However, you won’t have trouble seeing them because they have a tiny head with very long legs. When you do notice them, you’ll notice that they look a lot like the traditional mosquito except the wings are transparent and slightly larger than a mosquito’s wings. They can hop and fly as well to move around.
These tiny types of gnats feed exclusively on fungi and roots. They start at the soil level for infestations. So, if you were to grow mushrooms in the basement, you need to clean them up and get rid of the dampness to avoid a huge problem with these gnats. However, they won’t get in your food on purpose as they don’t like fermentation. Instead, they prefer organic decomposition.
9. Gall Gnats
Gall gnats or midges come from the fly family called Cecidomyiidae. As you may have gotten from the name, the larvae of most of these midges get their food from inside plant tissue. In turn, this creates abnormal growths that are called galls. These insects are usually around two or three millimeters long, and they’re very fragile. However, they are good at causing infections and stunting plant growth.
This type of gnat looks like a mosquito, but it won’t bite like a mosquito does. They have multi-jointed antennae with whorls of hair on the wings with a single primary vein. The eggs hatch and turn into flattened maggots that have a very tapered appearance. They’re usually brighter colors in yellow or red shades. Adults will eat animal blood, sweat, pus, and sebaceous secretions to get protein so they can produce eggs.
10. Hessian Fly
The Hessian Fly got the name because they originally came from Europe by attaching to ships that carried Hessian warriors. These types of gnats plant their eggs in wheat fields, and the larvae can do a huge amount of damage to the crops. They can get so bad that they cost millions of dollars in damage each year. They feed on the wheat seeds until they’re able to form a cocoon that then falls to the ground and gets covered with dirt. This forms a natural camouflage to help them survive until they can come back out in a week as an adult.
11. Highland Midges
If you ever make it to Wales or Scotland, you want to look for a swarm of insects that seem to be flying right at you. If you see them, you’re most likely experiencing this type of gnat. They have a 3 millimeter wingspan, and they will bite you to leave painful red welts in their wake on any skin that you leave exposed. They’re commonly called no-see-um bugs as they’re so small that you may just feel the sting of the bite without actually seeing the bug.
You will find this type of gnat living in swampy areas, and they will bite. They bite to extract blood from animals and humans. If you run into non-biting midges, they look a lot like mosquitos. The adults have a gray coloring and are usually less than ⅛ of an inch long at full maturity.
Midges come with segmented antennae, and the females have a long proboscis that they use to extract the blood. When they’re fully grown, they’re roughly as large as the lettering size on a traditional dime. They prefer to live in aquatic areas, including fast-flowing streams and rivers and deep lakes or ponds. The larae can suspend their growth through the winter and fall months. The adults will also feed on nectary and sugary elements before dying within five days. The full life cycle of this type of gnat, from egg to adult, lasts less than three weeks in warm locations.
13. Phorid Fly
This fly is slightly hunchbacked when you look at it. You’ll usually find them in a color range from dark brown to tan, and adults are very active as the weather starts warming up in the spring months. They like to feed on decaying and moist organic matter, and the most prominent feature of this type of gnat is the hunchbacked shape of the thorax. You’ll find them hovering around your compost piles or any dead or decaying greenery around your yard.
14. Sand Flies
Sand flies have a host of alternative names, including granny nipper, Chitra, and the sand flea. They are one of the few types of gnats that will bite and suck your blood, and many people consider them to be a type of mosquito. However, they have much larger bites. You can find these pests around coastal lagoons, beaches, tidal flats, and mangrove swamps because they like sandy locations, as the name suggests. They do well in dry areas and humid climates as this protects the eggs.
Sand flies also come with a sandy coloring to them, and they have big black eyes and thick hair on the body and legs. Before they lay eggs, the females will consume blood. Both males and females also eat sugar you can find in plant nectar. The citronella candle is one of the biggest repellants to this type of gnat. It’s also very effective at getting rid of mosquitoes. They dislike the scent of this candle and plant, and they’ll move away from the area. If you have a problem with sand flies, cover yourself with clothing in a light color to reduce your chances of a bite.
15. Stable Flies
Stable flies also bite, just like sand flies. In fact, they bite so much that this type of gnat is known as the biting fly, and the bites are also very painful. These bites feel like you’ve been stabbed with a needle, and they usually happen on the lower parts of your legs, especially around your ankles. They are roughly ¼-inch long, and you can easily confuse them with the common housefly. However, you’ll rarely find them feeding or gathering indoors. They prefer to be outside near dog kennels, the seashore, and stables. This is where they got their name.
16. Unique-Headed Bugs
The final type of gnat on the list gets the name of the unique-headed bug because, when you compare them to other gnats, they have really long heads with several bulbs. There are roughly 130 species around, and you can find them in dozens of microenvironments. They thrive in piles of decaying leaves, in sunny woodlands with many spaces to find shade and feed, or under rocks.
The body on this type of gnat doesn’t have the large basal area as other gnats, and there are four joints on the proboscis. This gnat is also a carnivore, and they can grab their prey with their front legs. The life cycles are generally short, and the period from egg to death is roughly four weeks.
How to Get Rid of Gnats – Five Ways
Once you manage to identify which type of gnat you have in your home, you can take steps to start getting rid of them. There are several methods you can try out, and some of the most effective options are below.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Traps
You can use apple cider vinegar to trap the gnats. You should mix together a tablespoon of sugar, a half of a cup of warm water, six drops of dish soap, and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Put all of this in a small bowl once you mix it up, and put the bowls in the areas where you see bigger amounts of gnats. They’ll get attracted to the sugary scent, but the dish soap will trap them when they try to drink it.
2. Candle Trap
Put a taller candle in a candlestick and put the candle into a smaller pan of water. Shut off the lights and light your candle. The gnats will quickly flock toward the flame and get burned or fall into the water in the pan and drown.
3. Diluted Bleach
If the types of gnats in your home congregate around the drain, you most likely have an issue with drain gnats. The best way to get rid of them is to use bleach. You want to dilute roughly ½ of a cup of bleach into a gallon of water while being careful not to breathe in the fumes. Pour this solution down the drains.
4. Fly Paper
One of the most effective ways to get rid of various types of gnats is to use fly paper. This product will catch flying pests by sticking them to an adhesive surface. You can get ribbon fly paper and hang it in each room of your home that has a problem with the gnats. There is also window fly paper available that covers the entire window with a sticky sheet.
5. Rotting Fruit
Believe it or not, one of the main causes of a gnat infestation can also be the thing that helps you get rid of them. All you have to do is add a few pieces of rotting fruit to a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and secure it using a rubber band. Poke a few holes into the top of the plastic wrap with a toothpick. This will prompt the gnats to slip through the holes to get to the fruit, but they won’t be able to find a way back out.
How to Control Gnats
Gnats are one pest that is relatively hard for homeowners to get rid of once they have an active infestation on their hands. It’s common for the DIY methods to not be 100% effective, and some may expose you to chemicals. However, there are a few things that you can do around your property and your home to make it less welcoming to any type of gnat, and we’ll go over those below.
First, to stop gnats from laying eggs and adding even more gnats to the space, the best thing you can do is get rid of all water sources on your property. This includes stagnant water as this is what adult females look for when they want to lay eggs. If you have a still pond, consider adding a water feature, plants, or koi to get the water moving.
Also, you want to make a point to not overwater the garden and your houseplants. The gutters should be clear of any clogs and ensure that they’re functioning as they should be to filter water away from the house. Watering your plants less or on a schedule can help control the gnats. Reduce the amount of water you typically use in your plants and keep the first inch or so of soil dry. This can prevent gnat larvae from turning into adults.
Take a few minutes to inspect your door and window screens to ensure that they seal up and are intact. Fill any gaps that you see to prevent different types of gnats from finding a way into your home through the holes. Finally, you want to keep all of your vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator and remove trash from the home. This removes the food sources for the gnats.
These 16 types of gnats can be real pests once they infest your home, but there are a few things you can do to get rid of them or prevent an infestation from happening in the first place. You can use this guide to identify which gnats you have an issue with and then tailor your removal plan to their habits.