Gnats swarm on a Michigan summer morning.

A Gnat is a small two-winged insect that resembles a Mosquito. Gnats are actually a type of fly and can be classified by several types of insects from the Diptera family (meaning two wing). Gnats usually fly in swarms and can include biting and nonbiting forms. For some species, males in search of partners assemble in large mating swarms known as a “ghost”.

Read on for answers to your gnat questions. For fast and effective gnat control, trust Griffin.

Gnats in Michigan

Appearance –Gnats are very small black, gray or brown flying insects (about 1/8”). They have two wings but are not strong fliers. Fungus gnats – a common variety – have long legs that are sometimes longer than their body. Many of them do not bite and in most cases are just a bother.

Biology – Gnats can cause serious problems in green houses and to food crops. They are common throughout the year, but mostly in the summer. They can be found anywhere where there is moisture, outdoors and indoors. The fungus gnat can be found flying near plants, vegetables, fruits or drains and are a frequent pest around houseplants. The larvae reproduce in decaying organic material, like over-watered plant soil or vegetable parts that are decaying in drains. Large groups of gnats in one place will swarm towards light.

Prevention – To control gnats indoors, focus on five areas:

  • Fruit and vegetable storage (bowls, crocks, bags on floors or in pantries)
  • Open trash containers
  • Potted indoor plants
  • Drains
  • Damp rugs, carpets and paper products in the basement or garage

Only leave out fruits and vegetables that you will consume within a day or two.

Wash containers and trashcans frequently. If houseplants have fungus gnats around them, water them less, or at least let the soil dry between watering. Run a dehumidifier in the summer to reduce moisture, especially in your basement.

Drains should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a month. If chemical treatment is needed, call a professional. Chemical treatments for fungus gnats don’t take long, and if everything is sanitized often, the problem will likely go away faster.

When controlling gnats outdoors, focus on areas with moisture and heavy organic material, like mulched areas, leaking water spout, trash collecting areas, compost bins, etc. In general, fungus gnat problems outdoors should die down in the fall/winter.

Tips for Preventing Gnats

1. Store & Seal Fruit – Gnats are attracted by fruit, compost, and rotting food which makes kitchen sinks and garbage cans a popular meeting ground.

2. Seal Screens & Doors – Remember, Gnats can access your home through tiny cracks including small holes in window screens, make sure there are no holes in your window screens and that your windows and doors are sealed tightly.

A compost bin of fruit and vegetable waste attracts gnats.

Gnat FAQ

Are gnats and fruit flies the same thing?

No. While both are small, pesky and swarm around your kitchen, they are not the same insect. Fruit flies tend to be larger than gnats and have red eyes where gnats are black. Fruit flies also have a distinct black pattern on their wings.

Are gnats nocturnal?

You may see gnats in the evening because they are attracted to lights, like those on a porch. Gnats, however, are most active at dawn and during the morning.

Can I use essential oils to keep gnats away?

Many people repel gnats with essential oils. Popular scents include peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, cinnamon, garlic and mint. Try alone or mix them together to discover which works best for you.

What are gnats attracted to?

Gnats like moisture and food. What attracts gnats in your house is likely any food, especially fruit, that has been left out. They will seek sweet, overripe foods anywhere, including your garbage and compost.

What do gnats eat?

Gnats eat mostly fruits and vegetables. They favor decomposing organic matter often found in trash bins and drains including fungi and slime.

Why do I have gnats?

Gnats found their way into your home via an open window, broken screen, cracked door or other means. As long as they have food and moisture, they will continue thrive and reproduce under your roof.

Keeping Gnats in Michigan Out of Your Home or Business

If there seems to be no end to the swarms of gnats in your home or business, schedule with Griffin today. One of our technicians can assess your gnat problem, determine where they came from and eliminate them from coming back.