Those irritating tiny insects that fly around your head and don’t disappear no matter how many times you swat at them? Those are gnats! Commonly known as no-see-ums as they are so small, gnats as we know them include fruit flies, midges, sand flies, and eye gnats. It would seem that wherever people go, gnats follow!
Gnats follow you as they are attracted to your scent, your sweat, and the carbon dioxide on your breath. They particularly enjoy the moisture on your head around your eyes and mouth. Pleasant-smelling shampoos, soaps, and lotions are all added attractions to gnats.
Statistically, gnats are described as any species of tiny flying insect, but there is no official scientific consensus or agreement on what a gnat actually is! They can be non-biting and biting insects, but entomologists only really consider non-biting flies to be gnats! Gnats buzz around your face and follow us around in huge numbers. Let’s look at how why they are so attracted to humans and how we can get rid of them – for good!
Why Do Gnats Follow You?
Gnats, it would seem, are attracted by smells that they like! Sweet and fruity scents are particularly attractive to gnats, as are human body odors like sweat and body heat and carbon dioxide on your breath. Of course, we all use insect repellents to keep these pesky critters at bay, but the truth is, spraying yourself with copious amounts of sweet-smelling perfumes and chemicals will attract rather than repel gnats.
Gnats seem to follow wherever we go. While there is no particular reason for gnats to follow us around in large groups, some people speculate that gnats are attracted to people who have high blood sugar or that gnats follow us when we walk close to plants that have just been watered.
There is also a theory that gnats are attracted to people who sweat more than others and that they are attracted to people who have a low salt content and are repelled by people who have a high salt content.
Why Do Gnats Fly In Your Face?
Whatever the theories are about why gnats are attracted to humans, we all know that gnats like to swarm around our faces and send a few kamikaze bugs out to attack us now and then. We know this because gnats are always searching for moisture, and human heads contain a lot of moisture! Moisture can be found in our sweat and tears, as well as in our breath.
Eye infections like pink eye will attract them to eyes, as will sweat and any moisture around your eyes.
They say bad breath will attract gnats, and so will carbon dioxide flumes as it is breathed out of our nose and mouth.
Gnats are not picky and can also be attracted to your face and hair by the scent of your lotion, shampoo, or perfume; any pleasant smell will do.
The good news is, gnats will not lay eggs in your hair as they only lay eggs in moist places during their breeding season. Therefore, your scalp and hair are not an attractive breeding ground to gnats but using unscented hair and skin-care products could help in repelling gnats.
Do Gnats Bite Humans?
Even though entomologists only consider non-biting gnats to be gnats, irritating, flying bugs around our heads will always be called gnats! And some species of gnats do bite humans.
Female gnats will bite you as they need blood to produce eggs that will develop properly. When they do bite you, they release an anticoagulant simultaneously, which makes the bite itch. You will know if a gnat has bitten you by tiny red, irritating, and itchy bumps which will appear on your skin. Some people can develop severe, harmful, allergic reactions to gnat bites.
As some gnats could possibly carry parasites and spread diseases, it’s always best to consult a health professional if you think your gnat bites have become infected or if they get worse over a few days instead of better.
Why Do Gnats Swarm?
As gnats don’t live very long lives, they only have a very short time to mate and lay eggs. Therefore, swarming is essential for the species to survive as gnats mate during swarming. In addition, they are safer from predators when they are swarming.
Gnats will often swarm around something they are attracted to, like sweet and fruity scents, but they will also swarm around people and pets as they are drawn to water and body heat.
What Attracts Gnats?
We know that gnats are attracted to humans by scent and carbon dioxide, but how are they drawn into and around our homes? What else attracts them?
Why Are Gnats Attracted Inside Your Home?
The female gnat is always on the lookout for a safe, cozy place to lay her eggs – all 200 of them at a time! She will look for a home with ideal conditions to sustain the larvae once the eggs have hatched. Any moist, damp place, preferably containing organic matter, like the soil of your potted plants with high moisture content, will provide the new larvae with sustenance.
All gnats eat fruit and vegetables, fresh flowers, and houseplants. Therefore, any spilled food, a garbage can that doesn’t seal, sink drains, or any unattended fruit and vegetables will attract a swarm of gnats.
Gnats are attracted to honey and vinegar, so place some of each into a glass bowl and use a lure to trap the gnats. They are also attracted by scented candles, potpourri, and fragrant oil burners.
What Attracts Gnats Outside Your Home?
Your yard and garden provide a wonderland for gnats! Vegetable gardens, fruit trees, decaying organic matter, and garden beds all provide moisture and food to gnats. Likewise, fungus and molds on over-watered lawns will attract gnats. Some species of gnats are even attracted to your outdoor lights.
Lakes, ponds, potholes, dripping pipes, and any wet area will attract breeding gnats. Overflowing or dirty trash cans (or unsealed compost bins for the matter!) are a hotspot for gnats as they contain everything that a gnat needs to survive!
How Do You Stop Gnats From Flying Around You?
The trick with gnats is not to stop them from flying around or from biting you, but to stop them from locating you in the first place! Modern scientific studies prove that gnats are primarily attracted to the carbon dioxide that humans exhale. In addition, studies show that certain fragrances will interfere with the gnats’ ability to find and detect carbon dioxide.
So, the best way to stop gnats flying around you is to disguise the carbon dioxide and your own body scent with another scent that is totally repellent to gnats. This is the idea of using traditional insect repellents, but some modern insecticides attract rather than repel the bugs.
Look for insect repellents that contain natural formulas for effective use against gnats. Then, read through our list of ways to repel gnats further down in this article.
Are Gnats Beneficial Insects?
Even though gnats are irritating, and we would all like to get rid of them, they do serve a purpose in nature. Gnats are excellent flower pollinators and are essential food sources for larger insects, bats, and birds.
For the organic gardener, having a few gnats flying around your garden is an excellent sign that your plants and flowers are being well pollinated!
Gnats help to control fungus and algae in your garden. Female gnats can lay their eggs on moist soil so that once the eggs hatch, the larvae will feed on the fungus and algae living on plants.
How Do You Get Rid Of Gnats For Good?
Our first reaction to any gnat problem is to grab a can of insecticide or call in the pest control experts. But, before you use the services of either, try our natural remedies to get rid of gnats before you allow harmful toxins to be sprayed around your home and family.
Of course, you might have to eventually call pest control if all your efforts at getting rid of the gnats fail! However, do remember that gnats only live for seven days at a time, so even though you do have an infestation of the adults, if you find the eggs, you could get rid of them to prevent them from hatching and turning into adults.
Gnats cannot survive in cold weather and should all die off during the winter months.
There are many clever ways to get rid of gnats. Some solutions are long-lasting, while others will only work for a short time. The ideal is to find the right solution for your problem. You could have a few gnats flying around your face during the day or be swamped by a massive infestation at night.
Some gnat extermination techniques are single-use, others can be reused, and still, others are disposable.
Before touching any products containing pesticides, always use personal protection gear and always follow the pack’s instructions.
Let’s have a look at some commercial products which are available to eliminate gnats:
- An electronic bug zapper can be plugged into a power bank and used all year round. This is an expensive but highly effective gnat killer which electrocutes the gnat. The gnat will be attracted by the fluorescent light on the zapper, fly toward it, and get zapped by an electric shock. Clean the zapper occasionally to get rid of the debris. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
- Sticky sheets can be hung anywhere to catch gnats. They have an attractive odor. When the sheet is full of gnats, take it down and toss it in the trash. Then, hang a fresh sheet up. These sticky traps are inexpensive and are available on Amazon
- An indoor insect and flying bug trap is a safe way to eliminate gnats. The gnats are lured into the trap by a UV light. Once the gnat is inside, a fan sucks the gnat down onto a sticky trap. No chemicals are involved, so this product is safe for use around children and pets.
There are a few home remedies that can help in repelling gnats:
- Vitamin B supplements should repel gnats as your body odor will not be attractive to them
- Multivitamins and garlic are said to repel gnats
- Natural soaps like pine tar often repel gnats
Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Gnats:
If you would rather save yourself the expense of buying expensive equipment or paying for a pest control expert to eliminate the gnats, try these natural remedies.
- Red wine mixed with dish soap can be used as a lure. The gnats will fly into the mixture and get stuck in the alcohol.
- Fill a plastic spray bottle with vinegar, water, and dish soap and spray over the gnats. The solution should kill them instantly. This solution is safe to use on indoor plants.
- Mash a few rotten bananas into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Poke holes into the plastic. The gnats will be trapped once they go into the banana mash and won’t exit through the plastic.
- Pour olive oil down the kitchen sink and house drains to get rid of gnats. If olive oil is a bit too expensive, substitute for any vegetable oil. The result will be the same.
- Mix a solution of rubbing alcohol and water and spray over the area where the gnats live. This solution is a powerful gnat repellent.
- Essential oils such as citronella and vanilla can be mixed with water and dishwashing liquid. Spray around the house and outdoor trash cans to keep gnats away.
- Mix 20 drops of peppermint oil with two cups of water and pour into a plastic spray bottle. Spray around the garden and your home every few weeks to keep gnats away.
- Look for gnat eggs around your home, garden, and in your potted plants. Remove the eggs and dispose of them when you can. Cover the area with coarse steel wool to prevent adult gnats from returning to the soil to breed.
- To dispose of the gnat larvae, mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide and four parts water. Pour the mixture into the soil where the larvae are. When you see bubbles on the surface, the solution is working. This solution will not harm your plants.
Homemade Gnat Trap
Follow our easy recipe for a homemade effective gnat trap.
What do I need:
- An old cup, any size, will do
- Apple cider vinegar
- Liquid dish soap
- Plastic wrap
How do I make the trap?
- Pour a tablespoon or two of and liquid dishwashing soap and apple cider vinegar into the cup.
- Stretch the plastic wrap very tightly over the top of the cup and poke a few holes into it.
- The gnats will be attracted to the apple cider vinegar and will crawl through the holes into the cup. However, the soap will prevent them from flying out of the cup, and they will drown inside the cup.
- Change the solution regularly until you no longer see any new gnats in the jar.
Natural Ways To Prevent Gnats From Returning:
Prevention is better than cure. Try these methods to keep the gnats from returning to your home. Always use prevention methods together with extermination methods for the best results.
- Always keep your home and garden clean and free from debris that could attract gnats.
- Wash your fresh fruit and vegetables and store in the fridge rather than on the countertop,
- Clean out your garbage disposal by grinding up a few lemons in the unit. Not only will the unit be clean, but your kitchen will smell lemony fresh!
- Never overwater your plants. Fungus will attract gnats.
Gnats are a nuisance no matter where you are. They sneak up on you when you are outdoors enjoying a barbeque with your family, or even when you are indoors sitting in your favorite chair next to the window.
Getting rid of gnats can be an easy task if you follow all the recommended eliminating, repelling, and prevention methods. Prevention is, however, much better than trying to get rid of them once they have infested your space, so always be on the lookout for any tiny bugs and stop them before they move into your life.
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