Pest control experts explain how to get rid of gnats (and why they're still causing you trouble this season)

Experts reveal the best ways to take back control of your home and banish gnats for good

Wooden kitchen with green walls
(Image credit: James Merrell)

You might think of gnats as a summer issue, but their presence can plague some of us all year round, especially the notorious fungus gnat. Those in warmer climates might notice these pests hanging around a little longer than normal, and despite our determination to get rid of them, their skittish behavior makes them nearly impossible to control. 

If you're eager to remove gnats from your home this season, you'll be pleased to know there are some clever ways of doing so. These critters shouldn't be a permanent feature in your modern living room, so start the process of banishing the bugs now. We've asked pest control experts for their professional advice on how to dispel annoying gnats for good, and why they're causing so much trouble this year in particular. 

What are gnats? 

Two tall palm houseplants in grey ceramic pots on a kitchen countertop

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The label gnat is thrown around a lot, but it would be wrong to assume all flying bugs are the same. 'Identifying gnats can be difficult because of their size,' says professional entomologist Scot Hodges at Arrow Exterminators. 'However, some observable differences are that fungus gnats will resemble a mosquito in appearance, although much smaller.' 

He goes on to explain that to distinguish gnats from other flying pests, remember that fruit flies will generally have reddish eyes while drain flies, also called moth flies, will have large wings relative to their size and will resemble moth wings. You might think all these pests dwell in your backyard, but all of them prefer the conditions inside your home, especially this time of year.

You can also observe their behavior to determine what kind of insect it is. 'Some gnats may be more active during specific times of the day or exhibit unique flight patterns,' says  Nicole Carpenter, CEO of Black Pest. 'For example, fungus gnats are often found near houseplants and may hover around the soil or fly in erratic patterns,' she explains. 'Alternatively, fruit flies are often found around overripe fruits, while drain flies are associated with drains and sewage.'

Fortunately, all these pests have a similar remedy therefore identifying the specific type is not essential, although it may help you determine why they're entering your home. 

Why do gnats spread so quickly?

Gnats are one of the most frustrating pests to deal with, partly because they breed so quickly. Within a week of entering your home you can be faced will a full-scale infestation. 'Gnats reproduce quickly, so once one or two are observed, the time from laying the eggs to adult can happen in a few days,' explains Scot.

The critters can also be enticed and encouraged by home conditions. Like other pests that can invade your backyard in the fall, Nicole points out that gnats are attracted to moisture-rich environments. 'Our homes often provide ideal conditions with sources of water such as leaky pipes, standing water, or overwatered indoor plants,' she says. Once they are inside, they thrive, which is why it's important to catch them early and get started on pest control immediately.

How do you get rid of gnats?

Pool house with outdoor seating area

(Image credit: Jenifer McNeil Baker/Maestri Studio)

You might think it an impossible task, but don't be dissuaded - gnats can be conquered. 

'To effectively deal with a gnat infestation in your home, it's important to take a comprehensive approach,' says Nicole. The first thing to do is identify the potential breeding sites and eliminate them. 'Areas such as overwatered potted plants, rotting fruit, or clogged drains can all be culprits,' Nicole adds, so be sure to look out for them.

Secondly, it's essential to ensure there are no unknown water issues in your home. Gnats are drawn to water so it is important to eke out any undiscovered water issues first and ensure that sinks, showers, and other drainage systems are in good working order and not accumulating stagnant water. If you have a pool, covering it or draining it over winter can also help. 

Inside the home, however, the easiest thing you can do to control gnats is to maintain a regular cleaning routine. 'Remove sources of attraction and breeding. Keep kitchen surfaces clean, dispose of overripe fruits, and avoid overwatering plants which aid fungus growth,' says Patrick McDonald, pest control expert at Town and Country Pest Solutions. 'Regularly clean and unclog drains and traps to avoid growth of bio-matter which contributes to bad odors as well as attracts fly breeding.'

Lasting consider how the gnats might be entering your home. Nicole suggests looking at doors, windows, and screens for gaps or cracks that gnats could use to enter your home and sealing these entry points to block their access. Additionally, keep your trash cans adequately sealed and compost in enclosed containers. All of this will reduce gnats attraction so you can rid them from your home once and for all. 

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.