Pesky flying critters in your home? You might have a gnat problem

If you've been spotting these insects around lately, don't fret.

Have you been endlessly swatting away tiny flying bugs in your house recently? You might have gnats. Don’t worry you’re not alone. Given the unprecedented humidity and heat the last few weeks, you’ll be seeing more and more of these tiny, annoying flying insects.

What are gnats?

Gnats are also commonly referred to as drain flies and fungus gnats. They’re tiny flying bugs that can typically be found in the damp parts of your house like the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. Whilst there are over 150 different species of these bugs in Australia alone, the two most common are:

Fungus gnats: Fungus gnats are identified by their black appearance and long legs. These insects are normally attracted to and found near indoor plants.

Drain flies: Drain flies have a moth-like appearance and typically are found in and around drains where they feed off the sludge and lay larvae. 

Gnats come in various shapes and sizes.

What attracts gnats?

One of the biggest offenders that attracts a plethora of gnats into your home are your indoor plants. These bugs are typically attracted to houseplants that have damp soil or decaying, damaged plant roots. 

The larvae of gnats will feed on your overwatered plant roots and you could then face an infestation of these pestering bugs.

Similarly, gnats are also attracted to the moisture and decaying organic matter that accumulates in your drains – particularly in the kitchen. These bugs will feed on the sludge that lines your drains as well as lay larvae.

How do you get rid of gnats?

Though the type of gnats we find indoors here in Australia don’t typically bite, sting or cause any real harm, they can be annoying nonetheless. There are a few different ways to get rid of these pesky critters from your drains and indoor plants.

  • Boiling water: Simply just tipping a jug of hot water down your drain can be enough to kill the insects and their larvae that are sitting dormant. 
  • Install a bug zapper: If a pot of boiling water doesn’t entirely rid you of gnats, try installing a bug zapper that plugs into your wall sockets. It’ll use UV and blue light to exterminate your gnat infestation.
  • Vinegar traps: Alternatively, you could set vinegar traps around problem areas in the house to lure and exterminate gnats. Start by pouring apple cider vinegar into a dish, then, add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of dish soap into the bowl. This will attract, trap and exterminate these bugs.
Overwatered indoor plants are the biggest offenders for infestations.

Prevention methods

Though things like humidity and heat may be out of your control, you can do other things to prevent a gnat infestation.

Don’t overwater your plants: If you’re being pestered by flying critters around your plants, put the watering can down. If you let your plant properly dry out between waterings, it will kill off gnat larvae who thrive off of the fungus from excessively watered plants.

Don’t leave food waste out: Make sure you take out your bins daily and don’t leave old fruits out on the counter or in the fridge. 
Keep an eye on drain build up: To prevent gnat infestations in your drains, be sure to treat them periodically to prevent food build-up.

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