Although harmless, these little pests have plagued homeowners for decades. Getting rid of gnats can be difficult and time consuming, so follow this simple guide to make it easier for you. Forever known for crashing virtually every summer outdoor event, the common gnat is perhaps one of the most universally despised little pests on the planet.
While regarded as relatively innocuous to people, the gnat is of no benefit to any of us, either. They tend to buzz around our heads and occasionally get into our ears! Gnats are generally thought to include any of various small, biting or non-biting, two-winged flies, such as punkies, fruit flies or midges (midge gnats) and black flies.
The most common are fruit flies, which may, in turn, be referred to as fungus gnats or ‘vinegar flies’. They are attracted to warm, moist environments, and to rotting organic matter – where they prefer to lay their eggs. They may hover around a sink drain, garbage cans, over – watered houseplants and pet bowls.
Aside from the annoyance to humans, the larvae of gnats feed on small plants and plant roots and may cause considerable damage to them.
Prevention is Better than the Cure
Fortunately, gnat infestations are relatively easy to control. Naturally, the best way is to avoid the problem in the first place by keeping them away from your home, by keeping your home clean and without standing food residue or water. Covering trash cans and refraining from leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen sink for long periods is advisable.
If you like potted houseplants, opt for healthy, bug-free plants. Regulate the watering of your plants, because excessively watered plants will invite fungus gnats to breed. As fungus gnats thrive on decaying plant matter, also limit the buildup of decomposing organic material around your plants.
How to Defend yourself against Gnats
The next line of defense against midges may include vinegar, either alone or in a solution with dish detergent and water. Gnats are said to be attracted to vinegar. There are various other home remedies using vinegar. Some people will locate jars containing vinegar with several small holes in the lids around the home.
Another strategy is to use apple cider vinegar or wine in small bowls near plants. Still others prefer vinegar and baking soda. (Note that vinegar and baking soda react to each other and foam up, so make your mixture slowly.)
Some homeowners have found that sugary drinks attract gnats more effectively than vinegar and they combine this with dish soap. Other folks say fly paper will catch gnats just as effectively as it does flies!
For kitchen drains and garbage disposal units, some suggest a cup of ammonia poured down the sink will keep the little pests away for awhile.
Gnat Control Outside of your Home
It is also important to inspect the outside around your home for things that may be drawing gnats.
Commercial spray repellents and foggers may also be effective, as a short term remedy. Any repellent with DEET will work. Flower gardens and lawns that are constantly wet allow fungus to grow, which serves as another food source for fungus gnats. To address this problem, rake the mulch and underlying soil to increase air circulation and drying.
Removing 1/4 inch of topsoil and replacing with sand can also be effective. Fungus gnats are drawn to moist soil with much organic matter and will avoid plants top dressed with sand.
Because gnats are also attracted to light, you might replace any incandescent light bulbs with sodium light bulbs, around walkways and patios.
Homeowners have experimented with numerous other methods and devices to wage war on the vexing gnat population for years. Some remedies seem to work well for some while others have better luck with their own. There are countless opinions on just what works best! No doubt the ongoing war against the common gnat will continue for decades more.
photo by blmurch / CreativeCommons