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How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside (Fast & Easy)

Gnats

Gnats

Gnats are small, flying insects. They can be present inside the home, but outside the house, they tend to be more of a nuisance. Some types of gnat can bite, they can swarm around your head, and it can be difficult to identify the source, let alone control the volume of these insects around your yard.

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What Are Gnats?

There are different types of gnat. Identifying the type that is swarming around your yard and flying into your ears and eyes can help identify the most effective means of gnat control. Here are five of the most common species:

  • Fungus Gnats – These are, as the name suggests, attracted to fungus and they live off fungi and plant roots. They can grow up to approximately 1¾ inch, live up to a month, and most commonly live indoors around the light of windows and lamps, but they can be a real problem in conservatories and other areas that have a lot of soil and light. Fungus gnats don’t tend to bite but are a nuisance.
  • Drain Flies – Drain flies look like tiny moths. Adults grow to around ¼ inch in length, and their tiny size makes them difficult to spot. They reproduce and live in any area where there is decaying matter, primarily in pipes and sewers. They swarm in large numbers, don’t bite, and don’t usually spread disease despite spreading bacteria.
  • Midges – Common around swampy and damp areas, midges are not only a nuisance, this is one species of gnat that does bite. The midge extracts blood from humans and animals. They can grow to ⅛ inch and usually feed on plant nectar. Fortunately, the midge usually only lives for two or three weeks.
  • Sand Flies – The sandfly is another variant of gnat that bites and irritates humans, with most bite victims experiencing a rash around the bite site. Some people may suffer from a fever after getting bitten. The sandfly lives in hot areas and the female feeds off blood before laying eggs. The lifecycle of a sandfly lasts approximately one month and an adult can grow to approximately ⅛ inch.
  • Eye Gnats – The disgustingly named eye gnat is attracted to tears and the liquid secretions of the eyes. As such, they gather around the eyes, and also the noses, of their prey. They live for about a month and they do eat blood, as well as eye secretion, so they can be a problem for you and other humans.
gnat close up
Image Credit: Nikk, Flickr

How To Get Rid Of Gnats

The best method to combat gnats is to identify the type of insect you’re dealing with and then use this information to locate the source of food or protein that they’re attracted to and removing it from the environment. However, it isn’t always possible to identify the genus. In any case, following these steps can help you to rid yourself of a gnat plague from your yard.

  • Dry Moist Areas – Several variants of gnat are attracted to damp conditions. There’s nothing you can do to control the weather, but you can clear drainpipes and downspouts and ensures that areas high in condensation are not too moist. Avoid overwatering outdoor plants, and try to remove any excess moisture from planters. Fork and provide irrigation in plant beds that do not drain.
  • Fix Leaks – Leaking pipes are a major cause of moisture and dampness. Whether it is clean water or dirty water, it will collect around the leak. Even the cleanest water will, eventually, develop algae and can attract gnats as well as other insects and animals to the area. Fix leaks as soon as you notice you have one. Not only will this help control a gnat infestation but it can reduce water loss and control water spend.
  • Maintain Pipes and Sewers – Even if your pipes and sewer are not leaking, poor pipe maintenance means that moisture and bacteria may be allowed to collect, and this can attract the small flying pests. Ensure that grates are clear and that pipe exits are clean and well maintained. Sewers should be regularly cleared and cleaned to offer further cleanliness and to reduce gnats and other pests.
  • Clean Up Mess – Everything from dog mess to fallen fruit can attract gnats and other flying insects. Fallen fruit can also attract wasps and other unwanted visitors, so clearing these up quickly and before they start to rot, when they become most appealing to insects, is a good idea. Similarly, ensure that garbage is cleared away and kept shut away if it must be kept outdoors.
  • Reduce Lighting – You don’t have to remove lighting, but you should look at alternative bulbs or alternative light sources. You will notice, especially as the light starts to dim, that gnats are attracted to light sources. They swarm around bulbs. Replace bright lights with low wattage bulbs or use bug light bulbs that are proven to attract fewer insect visitors.

How Do You Stop Gnats from Flying Around You?

There are also certain steps you can take to stop biting gnats from feeding on you. Barrier protection means wearing clothing or other items that stop the insects from reaching your most appealing areas. Some gnats like necks, others like eyes, and some opt for hair. This means wearing sunglasses, tops that cover your neck area, and hats. You can also try insect repellants, while several natural ingredients may also help to deter gnats. Lemon, vinegar, vanilla extract, and cedarwood oil are some of the most commonly used natural remedies that have proven effective.

group of gnats
Image Credit: Freddy FehmarnFollow, Flickr

Can You Feel a Gnat Bite?

Gnats are very small and, in most cases, you won’t initially notice a gnat bite. However, the area is likely to become infected and irritated. It may swell or rash, at which point, it will become noticeable.

Can Gnats Lay Eggs in Your Skin?

Gnats lay eggs in the soil, damp environments, and in areas like drainpipes, typically. They don’t lay eggs in the skin.

How Long Do Gnats Live?

Different species of gnats have different life expectancies, and these can vary from a few days to a month or more. Environmental and weather conditions can also impact how long a particular type of gnat lives.

What Smells Do Gnats Hate?

There are several natural products that users say will deter gnats. These include vanilla and lemon, although not all smells will work with all types of gnat, and even if they work for one person, they may not work for another.

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How To Get Rid Of Gnats Outside

The first step to eradicating a gnat problem is to identify the type of gnat that you’re dealing with. You can also get rid of damp areas, ensure that any garbage and rotting food or other waste is cleared up, and avoid overwatering gardens or leaving other areas that give the gnats somewhere to breed and live. You can also use barrier methods to prevent gnats from getting on you, while some natural products like vanilla extract may work to deter the flying pests.


Featured Image: Zeev Barkan, Flickr

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