Gnats are not only a common and highly annoying pest in the United States, but some types of gnats can spread illnesses and bacteria through a bite or even by simply landing on surfaces or foods we humans consume.
Whether you’re dealing with a large infestation of gnats in your home or you’re working to prevent an infestation from occurring in the future, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we are going to learn a bit more about gnats, what attracts them, and how to get rid of them using the best gnat repellents on the market alongside other measures to protect your home and family from these pesky insects.
What Are Gnats?
Some Gnats look similar to small mosquitoes.
Often confused for fruit flies, the term “gnat” is a general name given to a number of small, flying insect species in the suborder Nematocera and in the Sciaridae, Mycetophildae and Anisopodidae families.
Some species of gnats may bite and feed on human and animal blood while others seek out and feed on decaying organic material, moisture, plant soil, other insects, and rotting fruit.
Adult gnats are smaller than 33 millimeters, and adults have a very short life span of only 7 to 10 days. That said, they are quick to reproduce and can do so quickly. Females gnats can lay between 100 and 300 eggs in her short lifetime, preferring to lay these eggs on surfaces with moist conditions. Larvae hatch between four and six days later, and often take about four weeks to reach adulthood.
Gnats do not cause any serious structural damage in the home, but they can contain bacteria and spread illnesses, especially if they are existing in especially unsanitary conditions. Furthermore, some species of the biting gnat, specifically the black gnat, can spread a serious parasite to both humans and animals, with livestock being most at risk.
For the most part, however, gnats are just a nuisance pest. They mate in swarms called clouds or ghosts, and often congregate in large numbers near food sources inside and outside of our homes.
The below video further explains gnats and the different species you may come across.
While gnats are generally just annoying to households, there are a few species that are considered serious pests to farmers with crops. There are other gnats, however, that are highly beneficial and considered to be excellent pollinators.
Regardless of the type of gnats you’re dealing with in your home, you’re likely ready to be done with these annoying little pests. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has attracted gnats to your home and then go over some methods you can use to repel them.
What Has Attracted Gnats To Your Home?
Gnats are highly attracted to sweet smells and fruit.
Like most pests, gnats are attracted to homes that offer shelter, food, and a good breeding ground. Gnats in particular are attracted to areas that are warm, humid, and rich in moisture.
This is one of the reasons gnats are such a prevalent pest in greenhouses and indoor gardens. Gnats also look for rotten or damaged fruits, vegetables, exposed garbage, plantlife, and other decaying organic matter.
In some instances, gnats are attracted to unsanitary habitats and a severe gnat infestation can be a sign of a more serious pest problem, especially when dealing with gnats that feed on dead insects.
However, for most people dealing with gnats, the primary initial attractant is usually scent. Gnats enter homes in search of food sources and prefer foods that smell sweet. This is often why left out fruits in fruit bowls are some of the biggest reasons for a gnat infestation in the home.
But since gnats are often confused for other types of insects like fruit flies, how do you know for certain you’re dealing with a gnat infestation? More importantly, how do you go about getting rid of gnats using a gnat repellent that is not only effective, but also safe for your family and pets?
Don’t worry – we are about to find out. But before we do, let’s talk about how to identify a gnat infestation in your home.
What Are The Signs Of A Gnat Infestation?
The most common sign of a gnat infestation is usually seeing adult gnats.
While there are many different species of gnats in the United States, and different gnat species that can potentially invade your home, most gnats are similar looking and easy to identify once you know what to look for.
In general, gnats are small, black insects with long legs and wings. They are poor fliers who often swarm in clouds, especially when mating. Gnats are often found near food sources like in or around fruit bowls, flying in jerk-like motions around garbage cans, or congregating near moisture in bathrooms, basements, or near sink drains.
If you think you have gnats, just keep your eyes open and be vigilant. Gnats are active throughout the day and into dusk. Often, the most common sign of a gnat infestation in or around your home is going to be seeing swarms of adult gnats usually around dusk.
The good news is that, depending on your region, gnats are generally considered seasonal pests. They are most active during the late spring and early summer. Once the weather warms up and reaches a consistent weather pattern, gnats typically die out until next season.
With that in mind, let’s learn more about how to get rid of gnats using gnat repellent and then discuss some preventative measures you can take to keep future gnats from becoming a problem in the future.
Best Gnat Repellent For Inside
Gnats are repelled by lots of natural ingredients like essential oils.
There are plenty of remedies you can use for gnat control in your home. That said, most people find that gnat repellent works best because it allows you to target the specific problem and often even kills gnats on contact.
However, while gnat repellent is popular and highly effective, you will often not be able to get rid of gnats with insect repellent alone. In fact, if you have a severe gnat infestation in your home, experts warn that you should go on a hunt for the food source that is attracting these insects and get rid of it in order to quell the problem once and for all.
Still, gnat repellent does work well and can be used alongside other pest control remedies to get rid of gnats.
When it comes to using gnat repellent for indoor use, we suggest looking for a repellent that is safe to use around people and pets. This is because many gnat infestations take place in areas where food is prepared and stored like kitchens and around kitchen garbage bins.
Luckily, there are plenty of gnat repellent products you can use to control a gnat infestation inside your home that are safe for people, pets, and even the environment.
We have listed some of our favorites for you to take a look at below.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Control
Wondercide is one of our favorite products for indoor gnat repellent because it doesn’t use any harsh ingredients or toxic chemicals. You can safely use it in homes and in areas where food is prepared and stored and spray it around plants, people, and pets.
MDXconcepts Organic Home Pest Spray
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Another indoor insect repellent we like is an organic pest control spray by MDXConcepts. This spray uses all natural ingredients that are safe to use around people, pets and the environment. While it is designed to be used indoors, you can use this gnat repellent outdoors as well to help keep gnats from entering your home.
Brison Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
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Ultrasonic pest repellers are highly attractive to those with children and pets in the home because they do not require the use of any chemicals or sprays in order to be effective against gnats. The above ultrasonic pest repeller is designed to repel gnats, mosquitoes, spiders, roaches, mice, and many other indoor pests without harming people, pets, or the environment.
It uses ultrasonic sound waves that irritate pests like gnats and make your home less hospitable to them, essentially driving them out. This product does require an outlet and must be plugged in to work, so keep that in mind.
Garden Safe Houseplant And Garden Insect Killer
If you’re dealing with gnats and need a gnat repellent for your houseplants and garden, this is one of our favorites. You can use it both indoors and outdoors and on plants that are edible like vegetables and fruit.
This is an especially ideal gnat repellent for house plants as well and will not only kill gnats on contact but repel and protect your plants from future pests. This spray also kills aphids, beetles, mites, fungus gnats, and other plant bugs.
GrowSafe Bio-Pesticide Plant Protection
Last on our list of best insect repellent is another houseplant protection agent called GrowSafe. This product uses natural insecticides like corn oil and soybean oil to repel gnats and other types of plant-invading pests.
It also works to protect against eggs and larvae and can be used inside and out. It is even safe for beneficial insects like bees. Best of all, it is safe for people, pets and the environment.
Best Gnat Repellent For Outside
Like mosquitoes, biting gnats can be attracted to you while you’re outdoors.
Gnats do not just cause problems inside. They are especially prevalent around fruit trees, vegetable gardens, around garbage bins and any area outdoors rich in moisture and potential food. When gnats infest your property, they swarm in clouds and have the potential to spread illness and parasites, especially if they bite.
Worse, a large gnat infestation outside can lead to a future gnat infestation inside. But don’t worry. There are lots of tried and tested gnat repellent products you can use to help control and repel gnats outdoors.
We have listed some of our favorite gnat repellent products for you to take a look at below.
Bug Soother Mosquito And Gnat Repellent
First on our list of gnat repellent products for outdoor use is a repellent by Bug Soother. This product is specifically designed to be a personal repellent to protect against gnats and mosquitoes using essential oils that are safe for people, pets and the environment.
You can spray this gnat repellent directly on your skin, use it on babies, and even use it on pets. This is an ideal gnat repellent for outdoor enthusiasts, gardners, or anyone living in a region where biting gnats are present.
This product is also DEET free and can also be used to protect indoor and outdoor plants from harmful insects like the Asian lady beetle.
Buggins Natural Insect Repellent
Another personal gnat repellent we like for outdoor use is a product called Buggins. This spray also uses essential oils and is completely DEET free, meaning it is safe for people, pets, and the environment.
This gnat repellent is designed to be used on human skin but can also be sprayed on plants as it uses all plant-based ingredients including peppermint, lemongrass, geraniol, and clove oil.
Summit Mosquito and Gnat Barrier
The insect repellent above is specifically designed for outdoor use and is meant to protect your home from gnats, mosquitoes, ticks, and more. It is an all-over barrier protectant insecticide that can repel gnats when used correctly around your property.
While this spray is safe to use on garden vegetation and structural surfaces like decks and fences, it does contain permethrin, which is an insecticide that can be toxic to people and pets. With that said, you should only use this product as directed and keep it out of reach of children and pets.
Harris Swamp Gnat Repellent
If you would prefer to stick with natural gnat repellent products, Swamp Gnat is another insect repellent that uses essential oils to kill and repel insects like gnats and mosquitoes and is totally DEET and insecticide free. It uses lemongrass, soybean, rosemary, geranium, and green oil to keep pests like gnats away while also being safe and gentle enough to use on children
This spray protects against a number of gnats and pests but is especially helpful for keeping biting gnats away. While we do like this natural repellent for people and outdoor use, we don’t recommend it be sprayed on pets without speaking to a professional as it contains geranium oil, and geraniums can be toxic to dogs and cats.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control
Last on our list of insect repellent products for outdoors is another pest control product by Wondercide. Unlike the one listed above in indoor uses for gnat repellent, this outdoor pest control product is designed to be used in yards and gardens to repel and kill a number of pests like gnats, fleas, ticks, roaches, mosquitoes, and more.
It is fine to use on plants and is perfectly safe for people, pets and the environment. It treats up to 5,000 square feet and is even safe to use in areas where people eat like on outdoor decks, patios and picnic areas.
How To Make Your Own Gnat Repellent
You can make your own gnat repellent using just vanilla extract and water.
If you’re on the hunt for some do it yourself pest control options and recipes to take care of gnats, then this is the category for you.
As you may have noticed, many of the natural gnat repellent products above contain ingredients you likely already have in your home or kitchen like essential oils, for example. Let’s take a look at some more ingredients that naturally repel gnats and talk about how you can make your very own insect repellent to get rid of gnats at home.
There are a number of different essential oils that work to repel pests like gnats, spiders, centipedes, flies, bees, wasps, and even mice, rats, and bats. Some of the best essential oils, according to experts, to help get rid of gnats and that you can use to make your own gnat repellent include:
- Tea Tree Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Geranium Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Neem Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
- And Eucalyptus Oil
In fact, you can make your own insect repellent spray to get rid of gnats using any of the above essential oils by following the recipe below:
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 3 drops of peppermint oil
- 3 drops of eucalyptus oil
- 3 drops of tea tree oil
- 1 spray bottle
Combine the above ingredients into a spray bottle and shake it to mix. Then spray this liquid around your home and in any areas you have seen or suspect gnat activity. This is a wonderful pest repellent spray that will not only repel gnats but other home-invading pests like fruit flies, spiders, and even roaches.
Note: you can use any combination of the essential oils in this spray that are listed in the above essential oil list
Water, Essential Oil and Dish Soap Spray Repellent
Water and dish soap make for an effective and deadly combination for small pests like gnats. The soap coats the wings and essentially suffocates the gnats while the essential oil works as a repellent. However, be careful not to spray this mixture on plants or soft surfaces as the soap can stain fabrics and harm plants.
- 2 Cups of Water
- 10 Drops of Liquid Dish Soap
- 5 Drops of Essential Oil Of Your Choice
- 1 Spray bottle
Mix the above ingredients together into a spray bottle and shake it to mix. You can use this spray as an insect repellent and a gnat killer since the soap will coat the gnats and suffocate them, as we mentioned above. The smell of essential oil will also help repel any gnats that do not die.
Vanilla Extract Repellent
This is one of the easiest homemade insect repellents you can make yourself at home because it only requires two ingredients and most of us already have vanilla extract just hanging out in our pantry or spice cabinet. To make this insect repellent, follow the below recipe.
- 8 ounces of water
- 6 drops of vanilla extract
- 1 spray bottle
Combine the above ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to mix. You can spray this concoction on yourself to protect yourself from gnat bites or you can spray it around your home to repel gnats. This gnat repellent is also safe to use outdoors and in gardens.
Tips On Preventing Future Gnat Infestations
Only water plants as needed to reduce excess moisture that attracts gnats.
Gnats are not an uncommon pest in the United States. Luckily they are more annoying than dangerous or destructive. Still, there is a potential for gnats to transmit illnesses and no one wants to deal with painful and itchy gnat bites during the summer.
One of the best ways you can prevent gnats from becoming a problem in the future, along with using the best gnat repellent products, is to follow some of the below steps to prevent gnats from congregating on your property and inside of your home.
Clean and Sanitize Your Home Regularly
Gnats are highly attracted to decaying organic matter which includes any left out foods, garbage, or debris and clutter around your home. One of the best ways to reduce gnat activity is to clean and sanitize your home regularly. Vacuum, sweep, and use quality cleaning products or a homemade vinegar cleaning spray solution to keep gnats and other pests like roaches and ants from becoming a problem.
Invest In Covered Trash Bins
Garbage bins are some of the biggest attractants to pests like gnats because they can feed on the decaying matter inside. You can help reduce gnats both inside and outside of your home by investing in covered trash bins that seal when closed. This will not only protect your home and property from gnats, but may also prevent other pests like raccoons, possums, roaches, ants, and mice from coming around.
Reduce Excess Moisture
Gnats are highly attracted to warm, humid areas and can often be found in homes with water leaks or clogged drains. To reduce the number of gnats in your home, repair any leaky pipes and fix clogged drains. This will not only help reduce your gnat infestation but also help prevent other pests like drain flies and fruit flies. We also suggest not over-watering your yard and garden and only watering indoor potted plants as needed.
Store Fruits And Vegetables In The Refrigerator
Because gnats are often found swarming around fruit bowls, experts suggest storing fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. Doing this will not only keep the gnats away, but it can even promote a longer shelf life for your produce.
Do Not Leave Fruits or Vegetables In Gardens or Trees To Rot
As well as not leaving fruits and veggies out in the open on your counter for gnats to feed on, we also suggest you harvest any fruits and vegetables that are ready in your garden or on fruit trees. Allowing fruits and vegetables to become overripe or to rot not only attracts gnats, but other pests like squirrels, flies, raccoons, fleas, and even deer and rabbits.
Change Soil In Potted Plants
Some species of gnat feed on plant soil. If you notice you are dealing with a large amount of gnats who seem especially attracted to your potted house plants, try changing the soil.
Continue Using Gnat Repellent Year-Round
Remember, the best form of gnat repellent is prevention and most experts agree that you will not be able to fully get rid of gnats unitil you take care of what is attracting them in the first place.
That said, if you live in a region where gnats are especially problematic, it’s always a good idea to continue using insect repellent products and other forms of prevention to help keep your home and yard gnat free.
We hope this article has been a helpful guide in how to control and manage gnats using a good, quality gnat repellent along with preventative measures. Best of luck and happy gardening!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.