Do you have a gnat problem in your home? Perhaps in your kitchen? Don’t worry, this is a common and easy to address issue.
Why Are There Gnats In My Home?
As with any problem like this, it’s best to address — or at least understand — the root cause if at all possible.
Gnats, a general term for a variety of tiny, dark flying insects, are annoying, but non-biting “no-see-ums” that frequently appear in homes. There are a few times of gnats, like fruits flies and drain flies, but it’s almost impossible to distinguish between them simply by looking at them… unless you happen to be an amateur entomologist.
Different types of gnats appear for different reasons, but they all will be present because of some sort of food and/or moisture source. The most common causes of gnats in your home are:
- Old fruit is sitting on the counter: This will attract fruit flies who love rotting fruit. Even if fruit is a little bit overripe, these insects will start to appear. The type of fruit doesn’t really matter and oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and all sorts of other items will bring these annoyances. Put the fruit in the fridge or put it in a sealed, plastic bag and throw it out to solve the problem.
- Potted plants with decaying bark to leaves: You might not think that your home should have fungus flies in it, but your indoor plants might have something in the soil that is acting as a mulch and it actually building up fungus, especially if your keep the plant moist. Fungus flies (from the insect families of Sciaridae and Mycetophilidae) are harmless to people but their larvae can damage plants. Replace the plants’ soil or put the plant outside and the gnats will go away.
- Wet, dirty drain areas: Drain flies (also known as phorid or humpback flies) will live in dirty, moist areas, often by drains, but can also survive on an animal that has died in an attic or wall. They can even survive around leaky and/or wet drains and pipes, which provide them with adequate moisture and then they live off any food source they can find.
DIY Gnat Traps
Here are some easy, affordable gnat traps you can use to clear your air of gnats while you address the root causes above.
The Simplest Solution
The easiest way to trap gnats is by setting out a number of small jars or bowls around your kitchen containing the following mixture:
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 2 drops of liquid dish soap
You can add more or less vinegar/soap based on the size of your container, but you’ll basically want to have the bottom of the jar covered and at a few millimeters of depth.
This simple, non-toxic solution works because the gnats and flies are attracted to the vinegar but the soap makes the liquid sticky enough that the insects can’t simply hop out once they land.
If you are having mixed results with the apple cider vinegar, or you don’t keep it in the house, you can substitute the vinegar for red wine. This should be just as effective as the vinegar (not surprising considering that wine will become vinegar given enough time).
A More Effective Trap
If you want something more effective you can get a plastic bottle with a small opening and cut it in half. Most people recommend using a 1- or 2-liter soda bottle, but you can use an old soap container or a half-gallon milk jug… it doesn’t really matter.
You should get the container, cut it in half and then get the top half and turn it upside down placing it into the bottom. Make sure the sides are close together, if not you can add a little tape.
Now place some of the vinegar mixture above into the container and set it out. The gnats will fly in to the opening but then have trouble flying out since the sides are sealed. (This is the same way that a lobster or crab trap works!)
A Sweet Fix
In the case of the fungus flies you might want to try a fix that is centered around the plant where they are congregating. This trap uses the old adage that you attract more gnats with honey than with vinegar!
Get a little bit of normal household honey and spread it on something bright — yellow or red paper works, as does a small piece of plastic or cardboard. Now rest the honeyed card on top of the leaves of your plant, perhaps using a straw or chopstick to prop it up. The gnats will be attractive to the honey but then get stuck in the sticky surface.
Of course you’d simply made homemade fly paper. We haven’t found this solution to be as effective as the other two, but it can still aid you in your efforts to free your home of gnats.
These commercial gnat traps are a good inspiration of how you can make these as effective as possible. You’ll notice how they are basically exactly the same as what you can make with your DIY fix.
Flies To The Flame
We’ve made a homemade trap and homemade flypaper, but this is a homemade bug zapper. Basically you just need a candle that is placed in a bowl that is filled with water. You’ll need to be sure that the candle is stable, but you can do this by melting a little wax into the bottom of the bowl and mushing the candle into it.
If you wait until night, turn off the lights, and light up a candle gnats will be attracted to the light. They will fly too close to the candle and often drop into the water. You can supercharge this trap by using the vinegar solution instead of water.
With this trap you’ll need to stay with the candle the whole time its lit and you’ll need to not more it around, as the fire and hot wax are real hazards, but there are worse things in life than spending some time relaxing in a candlelit room.