how-to-get-rid-of-gnats-outside

How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside: 3 Products to Try

When you hear the word “gnat,” the first thing that typically comes to mind is annoying insects that bite. In this article, we’ll show you how to get rid of gnats outside.

What Are Gnats?

Gnats have black or brown bodies, long legs and long wings. Depending on the type of gnat you encounter, they’d look like tiny flies or mosquitoes.

The most common types of gnats people find in homes are fungus gnats, fruit flies, or drain flies (AKA phorid flies). The former are typically found preying on household plants. The latter two are located in swarms called “clouds” in your yard, garden, or greenhouse. They can be both biting and non-biting.

Thankfully, most of what we find in our homes are of the non-biting kind.

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What Are the Biting Gnats?

Biting gnats, which bite people and animals to obtain blood, are common nuisances that can cause medical problems such as allergic reactions. These biting gnats include biting midges (also known as no-see-ums, punkies, or sand flies), as well as black flies, which are also called buffalo gnats.

Since biting gnats are small and weak fliers, using ceiling fans and other fans can be an effective way to keep them away.

What are the Different Kinds of Gnats?

Gnats can be classified into several distinct types. Buffalo gnats are a type of blood-sucking flies that commonly infest the areas around livestock and domesticated animals.

Sand gnats, also known as punkies or no-see-ums, are tiny black insects that inhabit sandy areas near bodies of water. Eye gnats, also known as eye flies, are small flies that often fly around the eyes of humans and animals.

Lastly, eye gnat is a type of tiny black or brown fly that infests areas around garbage cans, compost piles and other decaying organic material. These types of gnats can easily be identified by their size and coloration.

how to get rid of fungus gnats

Why Lookout for Gnat Larvae?

Larvae can be a significant pest for gardeners and homeowners alike. It is important to look out for signs of these pests as they can cause severe damage to plants, lawns, and other vegetation.

Fungus Gnats vs Other Flying Insects (Fruit Flies and Sand Flies)

Fungus gnats are among the most common flying insects found indoors. They can be distinguished from other flying pests such as fruit flies and sandflies by their small size, dark color, and thin wings.

Fungus gnats typically measure only one-eighth of an inch long, whereas fruit flies and sandflies are often larger, around a quarter of an inch long. These gnats also have dark brown or black bodies, while fruit flies are usually tan to yellow in color and sandflies may be grayish-brown or reddish-brown.

Additionally, the wings of these gnats are longer and more delicate than those of their counterparts. Lastly, this type of gnats typically have a shorter flight period of around 30 seconds, while fruit flies and sandflies may fly for up to several minutes.

flying gnats

Adult Gnats Life Cycle

Non-biting gnat populations are typically found in moist areas, including wet soils. During their limited existence, gnats have four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Female gnats can lay eggs up to a massive 1,000 gnat eggs during their lifetime. The eggs hatch over several short days. Once they’ve emerged from the pupal case, adults fly away to begin the mating process all over again.

What Attract Gnats to Your Home?

It’s important to know what gnats are attracted to in order to eliminate them effectively. They’re most commonly seen in places with a lot of moisture and organic material.

Gnats feed on fungus, mold, moss, root rot, and compost. They gravitate towards decaying organic materials like plant roots, garden plants, and leaky pipes. Excess moisture and moist surfaces are the perfect breeding grounds for gnats.

Another thing that is likely to attract gnats is sweet-smelling fruits and vegetables in your garden. The moment your fruits and vegetables turn overripe, even slightly, gnats will immediately fly towards them.

How to Kill Fungus Gnats and Repel Gnats

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Although gnats don’t cause significant damages to homes, they still threaten human health as they can contaminate food, cause harm to plants, and create an overall unclean environment.

If you’ve noticed gnats flying around outside your home, here are three products you should get your hands on when you have gnats outside:

Neem Oil

If your garden plants are infested with gnats, neem oil is one of the most effective natural oil to kill off gnat larvae.

Neem oil is a globally preferred method because it doesn’t only kill larvae but it also encourages healthy plant development. It’s biodegradable and organic, which means that it’s safe around pets, bees, and wildlife.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that neem oil has no “unreasonable adverse effects,” making it safe for the U.S. population and the environment.

Sticky Gnat Traps

Gideal 20-Pack Dual-Sided Yellow Sticky Traps for Flying Plant Insect Such as Fungus Gnats, Whiteflies, Aphids, Leafminers,Thrips - (6x8 Inches, Included 20pcs Twist Ties)
  • Effective 20 Pack Sticky. Specially designed for flying plant pests. Great for outdoor plant or houseplant.
  • Great for attracts whiteflies, fungus gnats, blackflies, thrips, fruit flies, midges and other flying insects.
  • Made of ECO friendly materials, safe and Non-toxic, product contain no pesticides and are safe to use indoors and outdoors.

Gnat traps  are sticky cuts of paper specially designed to trap adult gnats and many other flying insects found outside, such as black flies, midges, aphids, leaf miners, and the like. One of my favorite sticky gnat traps is the one made by Kensizer, as it’s safe, non-toxic, waterproof, and highly effective.

All you’ll need to do is to place these traps in an area where the gnat infestation is aplenty and wait until they catch adult gnats. You will often find gnat activity in damp areas or decaying organic matter. Check the trash cans. You will likely find them there.

The only downside to sticky gnat traps is that they don’t trap larvae, but combined with the neem oil mixture we’ve mentioned earlier, you’d have covered both adults and larvae.

Insect Growth Regulator

Valent USA Dipel Pro DF Biological Insecticide BT 54%, 1lb Bag
  • Contains bacillus thoringiensis as an active
  • No time to harvest restrictions
  • OMRI listed

Insect growth regulators, as the name suggests, are products that prevent the growth of insects. The best and most commonly used growth regulator is Bacillus thuringiensis (BTi), a soil-dwelling bacterium used as a biological pesticide. There’s also Gentrol, which contains active ingredients that prevent pest larvae and nymphs from maturing.

If you know where gnat larvae are actively hatching and feeding, you’ll be able to either directly add the BTi or spray the affected area to eliminate them completely. Spray areas, including indoor and outdoor spaces, where you can see gnat activity.

Doing so not only kills larvae but prevents rebound infestations as well. Just make sure to wear a personal protective equipment when using these chemicals.

Bug Zapper

A bug zapper can combat the little pests effectively if a rather big gnat problem is experienced. Gnats are attracted to light, so a zapper can be utilized to get rid of plenty of them. This technique usually works better with larger insects but will still prove useful in eliminating gnats.

Vinegar Trap

An effective solution to control gnat infestations is to use a combination of vinegar and dish soap. The sweet scent of the vinegar attracts the gnats, while the dish soap creates an obstacle that prevents them from escaping.

sink gnats

How to Prevent Future Gnat Problem

As we’ve heard time and time again, prevention is better than cure. Killing gnats and small flies is easy; preventing a future infestation is a different challenge altogether.

Here are some tips to prevent gnats outdoors:

Dry Out Moist Areas

As discussed earlier, gnats thrive in wet areas like moist soil and decaying plants. Therefore, we need to make their natural habit completely inhospitable.

Eliminate outdoor sites that are rich in organic matter, including potted plants, downspouts that remain moist for extended periods, clogged roof gutters, wet firewood, thick mulch, and compost piles.

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Peat moss beds are a favorite among fungus gnats, so it’s best to avoid it.

Another thing to keep in mind is to allow lawns and garden beds to dry out thoroughly in between watering. This not only prevents overwatering, but it always minimizes the moisture gnat babies need to survive.

Clean Up

Regular backyard maintenance is another great way to prevent gnat infestations. Clean your backyard or garden by bagging grass clippings, raking fallen leaves, and trimming dead plant matter. Throw out rotting food.

Don’t allow fallen fruit to accumulate on the ground as they not only attract fruit flies, but ants, yellow jackets, and other insects, as well. Keep your outdoor garbage cans clean and covered, especially if you have a can specifically for organic matter or decaying matter. You can also treat bushes to deter natural predators like a swarm of gnats and other insects.

Maintenance

Fix leaks to prevent excessive moisture. These come hand in hand as leaking pipes enable the accumulation of sewage, which in turn attracts gnats. You can also replace standard light bulbs with bug light bulbs.

adult gnats

How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside – Conclusion

To prevent a gnat infestation, it’s vital to know how to get rid of gnats outside. Simple solutions such as cleaning out your backyard, correctly maintaining your sewage system, and reducing moist locations do wonders in avoiding future infestations. If you’re currently battling gnats, the three products above are guaranteed to kill both adult and larvae gnats.

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