What Attracts Gnats – The Complete List

Gnats always seem to appear out of nowhere. You’d have a sparkling clean kitchen, and they’d still somehow make their way into your home! That brings us to today’s question: what attracts gnats? More importantly, how do you get rid of these pesky insects?

What Attracts Gnats?

Gnats include fruit flies, drain flies, fungus gnats, buffalo gnats, and black gnats. All these insects more or less share the same profile: they’re small, they fly, and they have a keen sense of smell.

Unsurprisingly, most of them are attracted to damp, moist areas. This is primarily because these locations are perfect breeding grounds for larvae.

Although they have short life spans, they’re incredibly prolific breeders and would rapidly increase in numbers over a span of several days. If not dealt with immediately, homeowners may face a full-blown gnat infestation that may require the help of professionals to eliminate.

In a nutshell, gnats are attracted to four things: moisture, organic matter, scent, and light.

What Attracts Gnats? Moisture

Like every living creature on planet earth, gnats need water to survive. This is why they’re often found around moist, damp areas in and out of your home.

Some gnats lay their eggs in standing water, while others lay them on the surface of decomposing vegetables and fruits, wet soil, and moist organic debris.

Female phorid flies lay their eggs in drain pipes, septic tanks, decaying animal carcasses, and areas with concentrated amounts of waste.

Here are a few other moisture-prone areas that attract gnats:

  • Soil contaminated with sewage
  • Uncovered drains
  • Half-empty cans of soda, beer, vinegar, etc
  • Food spillage
  • Areas with plumbing leaks and drainage or ventilation issues
  • Wet or rotting sheathing
  • Overwatered gardens, potted plants, and grass
  • Clogged roof gutters
  • Wet firewood and thick mulch
  • Compost piles and peat moss beds
  • Leaky pipes under the sink
  • Stagnant puddles

Organic Matter

Gnats thrive in organic matter. It’s their primary food source, after all! All gnats are attracted to sweet-smelling fruits and vegetables, decaying organic matter, and overripe produce.

Others include:

  • Fungus, moss, and mold
  • Ripe or rotten fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and flowers
  • Compost and root rot
  • Animal manure
  • Green manure
  • Spilled animal feed

What Attracts Gnats? Scents

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Gnats have a perfect sense of smell. Since gnats are attracted to sweet scents, they tend to gravitate towards a number of personal hygiene products. This includes perfumes, soaps, hairsprays, lotions, and colognes.

So, don’t be surprised if you find yourself being swarmed by gnats. It’s not that you smell bad; it’s just that you smell too good!

Apart from the products mentioned above, gnats are also attracted to the scent of your detergent or other laundry additives on your clothes. They’re likewise drawn to body heat, perspiration, and mucus on the eyes and nose.

Gnats also love the scent of:

  • Vinegar
  • Honey and syrup
  • Rotting meat
  • Sweet and alcoholic drinks like beer and wine
  • Carbonated water


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The vast majority of gnat species find bluish and bright white lights quite irresistible. This includes mercury vapor, white fluorescent bulbs, and white incandescent lights.

This is why electric insect zappers work so well—they hypnotize the gnats by the alluring brightness of hyacinthine light.

You’ll also find gnats flying around TV screens, interior lighting, and windows.

What Attracts Gnats? How to Quickly and Effectively Get Rid of Them

You can get rid of gnats in a variety of ways. As follows are some of my preferred methods:

Step 1: Locate and Destroy Their Breeding Source

The first step in controlling gnat infestations is to locate and destroy their breeding source.

Here are the most common breeding sources of gnats according to species:

Luckily, most of the issues above can be taken care of without the help of a professional.

Once you’ve located the breeding source, keep the breeding area dry and clean. Throw away decaying weeds, compost piles, and organic matter.

If you’re dealing with leaks, promptly address the problem and locate the source. You may have to call a plumber if you can’t fix the issue yourself.

For overwatered soil, stop watering the plant under the top layer, and it’ll dry out. You can also cover the soil with about two inches of coarse sand.

Step 2: Eliminate Their Food Source

Once you’ve destroyed the breeding site, it’s time to eliminate their food source. Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Store your fresh produce in your refrigerator
  • Empty your trash cans
  • Dispose of rotting fruits and vegetables
  • Wipe away food and liquid spills as soon as they happen
  • Keep the sink clean and free of dishes
  • Properly seal your drain
  • Flush your toilet with bleach
  • Remove standing water from water pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, etc
  • Dispose of wet organic matter such as animal waste, compost, and lawn clippings

Step 3: Use Traps

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Destroying and eliminating the gnat’s breeding and food source is only half the battle. Here are the best ways to get rid of gnats through traps:

Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

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Mix half a cup of water with about four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, five drops of liquid dish soap, and two tablespoons of sugar.

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Place the mixture on your kitchen table or on the affected area. The irresistibly sweet smell of vinegar and sugar will lure gnats to take a sip. Once they do, the sticky dish soap will trap them in the mixture and drown them.

Candle Trap

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Light up a tall candle and place it into a pan filled with water. Turn off all the lights and wait while the flame does its magic.

Since most gnats are attracted to flickering light, they’ll slowly make their way into the candle until they inevitably hit the flame and die on impact or scorch their wings and fall into the water surrounding it.

Rotten Fruit Trap

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Add a few pieces of almost-decaying fruit to a large bowl. Then, cover the bowl with translucent plastic wrap and secure it with rubber bands. Poke a few holes on the plastic using a toothpick or fork, large enough for a gnat to crawl in.

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Gnats aren’t the smartest creatures. While they can easily find their way inside the bowl, they’ll find it quite difficult to escape, effectively trapping them inside. Once they’re all trapped, spray the bowl with an insect killer, or drown them in neem oil or detergent.

Fly Trap

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Flytraps are specifically designed to, well, trap flying insects! Place several traps around your house for a few hours. The fly traps are usually dosed with enhanced pheromone solutions that make it difficult for gnats to resist. Once they’re trapped, there’s no escape.

What Attracts Gnats – Final Thoughts

Gnats are attracted to a variety of things, including moisture, organic matter, garbage cans, rotten fruits and vegetables, and more.

Removing their breeding and food sources is the best way to prevent gnat infestations. If that doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to use gnat traps and repellents.

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