As the warm weather returns each year, the last thing any homeowner wants to deal with is those small flying bugs in the house.

Gnats are one of the most ubiquitous and annoying bugs that come around each summer and it can feel like you are powerless to stop them.

However, we’ve provided seven tips to get rid of gnats outside and inside your house so you can take back your yard and enjoy the warm weather once again.

Why Are Gnats Swarming My Yard

Gnat swarms are an important part of the gnat reproductive process, allowing gnats to mate and produce offspring.

However, gnats may be attracted to your home in particular for one of the following reasons:

  • There is fungal growth in your garden due to overwatering
  • Fruit and vegetables are overgrown and even rotting
  • There is food spillage and garbage that is not properly sealed

Gnats are also attracted to body heat and water, making your sweat the ultimate resource for gnats to feast and dwell. This is why gnats swarm people, especially around tall and exposed areas, such as their faces and heads.

How to Identify Different Gnat Species

While most gnats are annoying regardless of their species, identifying what attracts certain gnats can help you identify the source of the attractant.

  • Fungus Gnats (Sciaridae): Fungus gnats are commonly found in environments with high moisture levels, particularly around decaying organic matter. Their larvae feed on fungi and organic material in soil, making them a frequent indoor pest, especially in overwatered houseplants.
  • Fruit Flies (Drosophilidae): Fruit flies are small insects often seen in kitchens and around garbage bins. They are attracted to ripe or fermenting fruits and vegetables. Despite their diminutive size, fruit flies can be a nuisance, especially in settings where food is stored.
  • Eye Gnats (Chloropidae): Eye gnats thrive in areas with decaying plant material and manure. These tiny insects are attracted to moisture and can be particularly bothersome around the eyes. Their presence is common in outdoor spaces where organic matter is decomposing.
  • Biting Midges (Ceratopogonidae): Biting midges, also known as “no-see-ums” or “punkies,” are small flies that can bite humans and animals, causing irritation. They are often found in various environments and can be particularly bothersome in outdoor settings, especially during certain seasons.

Be sure to spot the difference between gnats and mosquitoes, as mosquitoes can be harbingers of disease and illness.

Are Gnats Dangerous?

While most gnats are more annoying than dangerous, they can cause itchy bites that become swollen or painful. In particular, black flies, buffalo gnats, and sand gnats pack the meanest bite, though these are typically found in more exotic environments, such as near riverbanks or sandy regions.

For the most part, gnats are an unwelcome disturbance that can be dealt with easily by following a few prevention and treatment tips outlined below.

7 Ways to Get Rid of Gnats Outside

1. Follow the fungus.

Since gnats are so small and love to swarm around your head, it can be difficult to pinpoint their origin. The most common backyard gnats are fungus gnats.

These pesky invaders are found in areas of high humidity or moisture and can be found anywhere with a lot of water. This includes areas like creeks, rivers, ponds, and other spots close to water. Of course, their favorite place isn’t limited to bodies of water. They like to swarm near birdbaths, leaking pipes, puddles, and overwatered plants as well.

Once they find a place they like, they’ll lay their eggs in soul or dead matter, and they usually take about three days to hatch. With the right conditions, you may have a little gnat farm in your backyard.

Of course, there are other varieties of gnats, including the eye gnat, the buffalo gnat, and the sand gnat. The best way to tackle your situation is to find out what you have first, starting with following the fungus. Eliminate any areas with excessive moisture, and you’ll be one step closer to a gnat-free yard.

2. Draw them with Vinegar.

An easy way to draw gnats is by using a little vinegar and dish soap mixture. Gnats are drawn to the sweet scent, but the dish soap will keep them from escaping once they land. This is a great way to eliminate a gnat problem, especially if they find their way into your home or swarm around your deck. Just change out the bowls regularly.

3. Repel them with Scent.

Gnats are naturally drawn to fruity scents; in fact, your shampoo, body wash, or perfume may be what makes you a desirable target for these pesky flying pests.

An easy way to combat this is using unscented soaps or avoiding that spritz of cologne during the summer. Or, you can switch up your favorite scent with something they don’t like. Try Lighting citronella candles using lemon or vanilla sprays. While gnats are a fan of sweet-smelling fruit, they can’t seem to stand vanilla, lemon, or even lavender. A little spritz can at least keep them at bay.

4. Try Gnat Traps.

Simple and easy disposable fly traps are a good way to keep gnats away from your patio. There are a few different options, usually small and large. If you have a smaller problem, the discreet smaller traps can easily trap gnats in a funnel.

The larger traps can hang from a beam or branch and often attract other unwanted flying insects. These traps have a strong odor, so keep that in mind when you decide where you want to place them. The best part? You can toss the trap once it’s full.

5. Tiki Torches and Candles.

Much like spraying yourself with particular scents, burning candles or tiki torches can help keep gnats away, so long as you use the right smells. Citronella is a natural bug repellent that will help ward off more than just gnats.

If you don’t have one, try using lavender or lemon-scented candles. It could be just enough to keep gnats from interrupting your outdoor gathering.

6. Plants that Repel Gnats.

While we’re on scents, you can play the long game and plant flowers that gnats can’t stand. There is a handful that can keep gnats at bay, including geraniums, lemon thyme, lavender, and Mexican marigold. The wonderful thing about using plants is that they look nice in your garden and will also help keep more than just gnats away.

Just look into what each plant requires and arrange them strategically around your outdoor space.

7. Bug Zapper.

Sometimes, the best way to combat these little pests is with a good ol’ bug zapper. Gnats are drawn to light, so if you are experiencing a rather big gnat problem, a zapper can be just what you need. Just know that this usually works better with larger insects, but it will be effective in getting rid of plenty of gnats, too.

Is It Time to Call an Exterminator?

You don’t have to live in fear of your outdoor space. Take back your lawn using these simple tips. However, not all gnat problems can be solved with a quick fix. If you are experiencing an overwhelming infestation, don’t hesitate to contact a pest control expert. Take action and start enjoying the warm weather today.

FAQs: How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside

Can Gnats Transmit Diseases?

Gnats are generally not known for transmitting diseases to humans. While they can be a nuisance, they are not significant vectors for disease transmission.

How Long Do Gnat Infestations Last?

The duration of gnat infestations can vary based on factors such as environmental conditions, food sources, and breeding sites. Typically, with proper control measures, infestations can be resolved in a matter of weeks.

Are DIY Gnat Traps Effective?

DIY gnat traps can be effective in reducing gnat populations. Typical traps include vinegar traps, fruit traps, and sticky traps. However, the effectiveness may vary, and it’s essential to address the root cause of the infestation as well.

Do Gnats Bite Humans?

While some species of gnats may bite humans, not all do. Those that do bite are usually seeking blood as a nutrient source for egg development. Bites are generally irritating but are not known to transmit diseases.

Can Gnat Infestations Cause Plant Damage?

Yes, gnat infestations can cause damage to plants. Gnats may feed on plant roots and lay eggs in the soil, leading to root damage. Additionally, their larvae can affect the health of plants by consuming root hairs.