The gnats we’re going to discuss today are those found outdoors in your yard. In this article, we’ll show you how to get rid of gnats outside, including three products to try that are guaranteed to eliminate them for good.
When you hear the word “gnat,” the first thing that typically comes to mind is annoying insects that bite. They seem to come out of nowhere, regardless of how clean and tidy the environment you live in is.
- 1 What Are Gnats?
- 2 What Are Gnats Attracted To?
- 3 How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside: 3 Products to Try
- 4 How to Prevent Future Gnat Infestations
- 5 How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside – Conclusion
What Are Gnats?
Gnats are small black or dark-brown flying insects with long, slender bodies of up to ¼ of an inch in length. Their wings are thin and semi-transparent. Depending on the type of gnat you encounter, they’d look like tiny flies or mosquitos.
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.
Gnat Life Cycle
Non-biting gnat populations are typically found in moist areas, including wet soils, and are usually active during summertime. In most coastal regions, they can appear during any time of year.
During their limited existence, gnats have four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female gnats can lay up to a massive 1,000 eggs during their lifetime. They lay their eggs en masse over water, moist soil, or aquatic vegetation.
The eggs hatch over several short days, with young larvae, or maggots, dropping to the bottom and building tubelike structures of debris. They then feed on whatever organic material they can get their grubby hands on. Their development process takes about two weeks.
When they’ve reached their maximum larvae stage, they enter their pupal stage, which ranges from 2 to 6 days to as long as 3 to 4 weeks. Once they’ve emerged from the pupal case, adults fly away to begin the mating process all over again.
What Are Gnats Attracted To?
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, which is why you’ll notice them more during the summertime than winter.
Decaying Organic Material
Gnats feed on fungus, mold, moss, root rot, and compost. They gravitate towards decaying organic material such as:
- Decaying leaves
- Rotten plants and flowers
- Animal material and waste
- Green manure
Wet, moist surfaces are the perfect breeding grounds for gnats. They thrive on the liquid; without it, they die. Gnats may appear anywhere with the following:
- Food spillage
- Puddles in the kitchen or outside your house
- Overwatered potting soil, grass, or garden plants
- Leaky pipes under the sink
- Condensation around windows and vents
- Wet firewood
- Outdoor sewage systems
Fruits and Vegetables
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 Get Rid of Gnats Outside: 3 Products to Try
Although gnats don’t cause significant damages to homes like termites, carpenter ants, and centipedes, they still threaten human health as they can transport pathogens from unsanitary breeding locations. They contaminate food, cause harm to plants, and create an overall unclean environment.
If you’ve noticed gnats flying around outside your home, don’t worry! Thankfully, gnats aren’t challenging to eliminate. Here are three products you should get your hands on when you have gnats outside:
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If your garden plants are infested with gnats, neem oil is one of the most effective solutions to kill off gnat larvae. After all, those that do the most damage aren’t the adult gnats themselves; it’s their larvae. Their larvae feed on the soil’s nutrients and your plants’ roots, which stunts their growth.
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.
The best way to use neem oil to kill gnats is as a soil drench. Simply mix two tablespoons of neem oil per gallon of water, mix the solution thoroughly, and spray all plant surfaces until entirely wet.
Sticky Gnat Traps
- 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.
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.
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Insect Growth Regulators
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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. Doing so not only kills larvae but prevents rebound infestations as well.
How to Prevent Future Gnat Infestations
As we’ve heard time and time again, prevention is better than cure. Killing gnats 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 moist areas. 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.
Peat moss beds are a favorite among fungus gnats, so it’s best to avoid it.
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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.
Regular backyard maintenance is another great way to prevent gnat infestations. Clean your backyard or garden by bagging grass clippings, raking leaves, and trimming dead plant matter.
If you own fruits and vegetables, pluck them out of the plant/tree as soon as they ripen. 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.
Fix leaky pipes and properly maintain your outdoor sewage facilities. These come hand in hand as leaking pipes enable the accumulation of sewage, which in turn attracts gnats.
If your sewage system is leaking a lot, do call a plumber to help you fix it before it turns into a bigger problem.
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How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside – Conclusion
To prevent gnat infestations, 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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