Different Types of Gnats & How to Get Rid of Them

Gnats can be irritating pests, especially if you've got an infestation in your home. They're attracted to moist areas, so check your plant soil or your garbage disposal to help find the source. Once you clean up and get rid of the breeding ground, your gnat problem will be a thing of the past.

Let's take a look at eight different types of gnats so you'll know if you can take care of any gnats yourself and remove them from your home, or if you need to call in professional help.

Types of Gnats

While all gnats may look the same, there are several different species. They're part of the fly family, but not all flies are gnats, so it's important to understand the difference. Some are harmless, while others can spread diseases to humans and livestock alike.

Buffalo Gnats

Might even feed on its namesake.

Buffalo gnats get their name from their humpback, but they're also known as turkey gnats or black flies. They can be tan, green, or gray and grow up to 1/8 inch (0.3175cm) long. They only live up to three months, disappearing during the summer months.

The males feed on nectar, while the females will feed on animals and human's blood. Their bites can kill animals or cause toxic shock, so it's important to keep an eye on these gnats around your animals and livestock.

Drain Flies

Inconvenient at worst.

Drain flies are a nuisance, but they don't spread disease. Instead, they reproduce in drains that have organic materials in them. It creates the perfect breeding ground, and they hatch in large numbers after just three days.

They are more robust than other gnats and may grow up to 5.0 mm long (1/5 inch). In the larval stage, they don't have eyes or legs. Instead, they have a dark breathing tube and a dark stripe on their bodies.

Eye Gnats

Keep an eye on them.

Eye gnats are also called grass flies, and they often pass on pink-eye. They are often found near humans and animals' eyes, mouth, and nose because they are drawn to bodily fluids.

They can live up to 28 days, and they love loose, sandy soil. The females will eat anything to build up the protein they need to lay up to 400 eggs in just 2 to 3 days.

Gall Gnats

Not a picky eater.

Gall gnats may look like mosquitos, but they don't bite people or animals. Instead, they infect plants, laying their larvae into plant sap for nourishment while causing abnormal growth and infection. Gall gnats have hairy antennae with large veined wings. Their hair rubs off easily.

The females will eat all sorts of things to obtain protein for the eggs, including pus, sweat, sebaceous secretions, and blood – and with good reason. They produce up to 400 eggs in just three days.

Gnat Bugs

Gnat bugs are also called unique-headed bugs, with more than 130 different types of species. Their head is constricted, making it elongated in certain places, which is where it got its name. They only grow up to 4 mm (0.15 inches) in size, with four jointed antennae and front legs designed to grasp their prey.

They are similar to midges and love dry, warm climates and swampy sunny places alike. They live less than four weeks.

Hessian Gnat

An agricultural scourge.

Hessian gnats are very damaging to wheat and clover, causing millions of dollars worth of damage each year. They feed on the seeds then emerge over time from the wheat when it is fully grown. Once they are free from the plant, they create tough cocoons to help camouflage it until the Hessian gnats are ready, about ten days after.

Houseplant Gnats

A common nuisance.

As the name suggests, houseplant gnats breed in soil, including those used indoors. They're attracted to the warm, moist soil that's often placed in direct sunlight. Houseplant gnat eggs take about three days to hatch and can yield more than 300 gnats in a given cycle.

Houseplant gnats are also called black gnats, fungus gnats, and winter gnats, and they're the most common of all the gnats. They have a grayish-black body with see-through wings that have visible veins. They have long legs and are between 1/16 and 1/8 (1.5mm to 3.0mm) in size.

Midges

Attracted by damp, humid areas.

Midges can be biting and non-biting, and while they may resemble mosquitos, they're actually quite different. They are less than 1/8 inch (3.0mm) long with segmented antennae. Midges are most common in moist, swampy areas. Their entire life cycle is just three weeks long, which is just long enough to make a nuisance of themselves as they bite humans and animals alike.

Sand Flies

Annoying despite short lifespans.

Sandflies get their name from their appearance, with a sandy color, thick hair on their bodies and legs, and big black eyes. They grow between 1/8 to 1/10 of an inch long (3.0mm to 2.54mm). They thrive in humid, dry areas and only live between 20 and 40 days.

Some sand flies feed on plant nectar, while others feed off reptiles and mammals. They can pass diseases after biting, including Chagres Virus and Punta Toro Virus, which will result in bumpy red rashes and fevers, among other symptoms.

How to Get Rid of Gnats?

Now that you've identified what type of gnat you have, you'll want to get rid of them. First, you'll want to address its breeding ground. Throw out any moist, organic materials. They can also be attracted to garbage cans, food disposals, or even fresh fruit!

Set an Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

Keep it simple.

This is a tried and true method, and you just need a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a few drops of dish soap, and a bowl. Mix it together - maybe add some sugar if you like - and wait for the gnats to come. The scent will lure them, and the dish soap will prevent them from flying away.

Use Ripe Produce

Wrap a ripe piece of fruit in plastic wrap and poke holes it in. The gnats will be able to crawl in to get the food, but they won’t be able to get out.

Repurpose Red Wine Bottles

The dregs of red wine are sweet, and they will attract gnats. If you want to make extra certain they can’t get back out, put a few drops of dish soap at the bottom.

Flush Your Drains

Mix 1/2 cup of bleach with a gallon of water and pour it down your drains. Flush with hot water and repeat as needed. This will help kill drain flies before they emerge.

Sticky Traps

Sticky traps may be gross to look at, but they’re effective! Place them near where you have a lot of gnats for the best results!

The Final Say on Gnats

Gnats are mostly a nuisance, but they can cause discomfort. Instead of biting, they slice a part of your skin to get the blood out. Much like mosquitos, they can cause itchiness, rashes, and welts on your body. Some gnats can pass bacteria and viruses, as well as poison plant matter to cause death.

Don't let gnats die out on their own or risk an infestation that will take many life cycles to get rid of.

Posted by Melissa Jackson

Melissa is passionate about all things home and garden, helping others to fashion their dream home one space at a time. An avid reader, when she’s not writing, you can find her nose deep in a book, cuddling with her two dogs.