The Best Home Remedies to Get Rid of Gnat Infestation Quickly
Gnats around the home can become a real nuisance and getting rid of them can be tricky. One or two of these tiny flying creatures can turn into a large infestation of gnats if they start breeding. Gnats and fruit flies are attracted to rotten fruit in garbage bins and because of this, you will often find gnats flying around your kitchen. Gnats love to live in damp places like drains, and there is even a fungus gnat that can destroy the roots of your houseplants.
To get rid of gnats and fruit flies and to prevent an infestation in your home, you can use many home remedies to kill off the annoying insects. For example, gnat traps with vinegar or banana are one way to solve your gnat problem naturally. Or, you can make your own gnat repellent using a mixture of essential oils which can also destroy their habitats and prevent them breeding.
If you need to get rid of gnats in your house, this guide gives some practical advice on some of the best ways of removing gnats and fruit flies naturally.
What are Gnats?
Gnat is a broad term which describes a number of species of flying insects. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, gnats refer to fruit flies, midges, black flies, and the fungus gnat. These are described as “small flies that bite and annoy humans.”1
Usually, the species of gnats or fruit flies that invade your kitchen don’t bite.2 However, the larvae of fungus gnats eat the roots of plants and can destroy their roots or stunt their growth.3
Gnats or fruit flies?
Fruit flies are a species of gnat and are as just as annoying. All the home remedies in this article for exterminating gnats are also effective to get rid of fruit flies from your home.
What Attract Gnats to your Home?
Knowing what attracts gnats to your home is the first step in removing all traces of gnats from your kitchen, house, and plants. The conditions and places around your house which gnats love and thrive in are:
- Damp places like kitchen drains where they can lay their eggs.
- Trash cans and waste disposals that contain rotting food.
- Fruit and vegetables left out in the open that provide something for gnats to feed on.
- Plant pots containing damp soil which are ideal places for gnat larvae.
How to Get Rid of a Gnat Infestation from Your Home
The best ways to deal with a gnat infestation in your home it to make your own gnat traps to catch large numbers of the tiny flies or use a natural bug spray for gnats to kill their eggs, larvae, or flying gnats.
Apple cider vinegar trap for gnats
Gnats are attracted to the smell of vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar which has a sweeter smell. You can easily make your own effective gnat trap by putting cider vinegar in a jar and covering it with pierced saran wrap (a thin, clingy plastic wrap). Here’s how to trap gnats to remove them from your home:
- Put 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp. sugar, and a few drops of dish soap in a jar.
- Fill the jar half full of water and mix well.
- Cover the jar with plastic wrap and secure in place with a rubber band. Make sure that the plastic wrap is stretched tight.
- Use a toothpick to make several holes in the plastic wrap.
- Place the natural homemade gnat trap in areas around your house where you have many gnats flying around to get rid of them.
The vinegar should attract the gnats to the jar and they will get in through the small holes but will then be trapped inside the trap. Replace the vinegar mixture every few days and keep doing this until you get rid of your gnat infestation for good.
Banana trap for gnat infestation
You can also use some mashed-up banana or old banana skin to attract and trap gnats. This is similar to the apple cider vinegar remedy for gnats.
All you have to do is place some banana in the jar instead of the apple cider vinegar mixture. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and puncture some holes in it to make the gnat trap. Dispose of the jar when you have solved your gnat problem.
Homemade sticky gnat trap
Another natural remedy to kill off gnats that are in your kitchen or around your houseplants is to make a sticky gnat trap using brightly colored paper or card and honey. The paper and honey attract the gnats and they stick to the honey and can’t fly off.
To make your own natural sticky gnat trap, this is what you should do:
- Use a yellow index card or a brightly colored piece of plastic.
- Attach the card to a stick so that you can place the stick in the soil beside your houseplants.
- Smear the card with honey. The honey will also help to attract the gnats and fruit flies to the trap.
- Place the gnat trap in strategic locations around your home and kitchen to trap and kill gnats.
Tea tree oil to kill gnats
Make your own natural bug spray for gnats with a combination of tea tree oil and dish soap. Tea tree oil contains insecticidal properties than can quickly kill off gnats, fruit flies, and their eggs and larvae.
The journal Medical and Veterinary Entomology reported that tea tree essential oil contains natural pesticides than can kill various species of flies and insects including gnats.4
To make an insecticidal spray to eradicate gnats from your home, please do the following:
- Fill a spray bottle with 8 oz. water. Add 1/2 tsp. natural soap and 12 drops of tea tree oil.
- Shake the bottle well every time before use.
- Spray directly onto the fruit flies and gnats to kill them safely and naturally.
You can also spray the tea tree oil mixture into cracks and crevices where you think the gnats have laid their eggs. Use the natural spray regularly until you no longer have a gnat problem in your kitchen.
If you have drain flies or gnats coming out of drains, you can put a few drops of tea tree oil directly into the drain to kill off any larvae or gnat eggs that are harboring there. Make sure and put enough drops of tea tree oil in the drains so that it covers all around the edges. Put the tea tree oil in the drain and leave overnight. In the morning, pour a large amount of boiling water in the drain to make sure that all fly eggs are destroyed.
Peppermint oil insecticide spray for killing gnats and fruit flies
Peppermint oil is a natural fly repellant and can be used to say goodbye to your gnat problem. The active components of peppermint oil help to repel gnats and fruit flies and also efficiently kill off any larvae.
The International Journal of Drug Development and Research found that peppermint oil is an effective anti-insect treatment which is effective against many flying insects.5
You can make the gnat repellant similar to the tea tree oil remedy. Fill a spray bottle with water with 3 parts of water, one part dish wash liquid and add 12-15 drops of peppermint oil. Spray the remedy directly on the gnats and fruit flies and also in areas where they may be living.
You can also use the gnat spray to treat houseplants that have gnats flying around them – just spray the base of the plants and the soil. This helps to prevent the adult gnats laying eggs in the plant soil.
Other essential oils which are effective in treating various insect infestations including ants, gnats, and fruit flies are citronella oil, lavender oil, and neem oil.
Neem oil for getting rid of gnats
If you have fungus gnats in your plant soil or fruit flies flying around your kitchen, then neem oil is a great gnat repellant and as an added bonus it can also kill aphids.
The book, “Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems”, stated that neem is a natural method for pest control. When gnats and fruit flies ingest substances containing neem oil, it helps to disrupt the laying of eggs and development of larvae. In the end, the neem oil kills off insect infestations.6
This natural neem oil remedy is safe enough to use around plants but strong enough to destroy gnat larvae that may be affecting your plants. This gnat-killing mixture uses neem oil together with Castile soap. Castile soap has many uses around the home and it is safe and biodegradable. To make the neem treatment for killing gnats, please do the following:
- In a spray bottle, mix 2 tbsp. neem oil with 1 tbsp. Castile soap (alternatively use a normal dishwashing liquid).
- Fill the bottle with water and shake well.
- Spray liberally around the roots of infected plants to help kill off any gnat larvae and eggs that may be in the soil.
- Spray on the leaves to repel gnats and fruit flies from damaging your plants.
Cinnamon powder for eliminating fungus gnats
Cinnamon powder is another natural remedy with powerful insecticidal properties that can help get rid of fungus gnats. Cinnamon powder isn’t just a tasty spice, it can be used to rid plant soil of harmful fungus gnats.
Studies into various natural insect repellants have found that cinnamon powder was one of the most effective natural methods of pest control. It was able to kill over 90% of insects in a one-hour period.7
Use cinnamon powder to control gnats and help destroy the larvae in plant soil. To help prevent a fungus gnat infestation, sprinkle enough cinnamon powder around the base of your plants so that there is a visible layer. Repeat every 2-3 weeks to help reduce the number of larvae in the soil and prevent them from growing into adult gnats.
Rubbing alcohol to kill off any larvae or eggs
If you notice that gnats are coming up from your drains, pour rubbing alcohol in the drain to kill off any larvae or eggs that may be in your drain.
Repot your plants (for gnat-infested plants)
If all else fails, and you still have a problem of fungus gnats in the roots of your plants, you may have to change the soil to get rid of and prevent a gnat infestation. When you change the soil, make sure that you replace it with good quality soil and check for any signs of larvae and insects before replanting your plants.
How to Prevent a Gnat Infestation in your Home
Once you have successfully got rid of all signs of gnats from your home, it’s important to prevent them returning. Here are some easy methods of gnat prevention:
Eliminate their food sources by keeping kitchen areas clean and store any fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator or sealed containers.
Always wash dishes soon after eating a meal and avoid leaving dirty dishes overnight in the sink. This prevents the gnats feeding on leftover food.
Keep trash cans inside the home and outside the house covered. If the trash cans outside your house are open, gnats can feast there and similarly follow their noses into your house.
Make sure you have no damp areas in the kitchen or bathroom. Gnats love moist places for breeding, so keep all areas as dry as possible to prevent gnat infestation.
Don’t overwater plants because this attracts gnats and encourages them to lay eggs in the soil.
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