BBC — Scotland Outdoors Articles — How to avoid midge misery
- 1 Scotland Outdoors
- 2 Categories
- 3 How to avoid midge misery
- 4 The best methods to get rid of midges in your house and in your garden
- 5 1) On your plants
- 6 2) Set up a trap
- 7 3) In the pipes
- 8 4) Get rid of any possible source of food
- 9 How to Get Rid of Gnats
- 10 Getting Rid of Gnats
- 11 How to Effectively Eliminate Gnats in the Kitchen
- 12 How to Eliminate Gnats in the Bathroom
- 13 How to Rid Your Office of Gnats
- 14 How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside
- 15 How to Get Rid of Gnats in Plants
- 16 Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Gnats
- 17 How to Keep Gnats Away
- 18 How to Kill Fungus Gnats
- 19 What are Gnats?
- 20 Life Cycle of a Gnat
- 21 Do Gnats Bite?
- 22 Difference Between Fruit Flies and Gnats
- 23 How to Effectively Get Rid of Fruit Flies and Gnats
- 24 What Attracts Gnats?
How to avoid midge misery
It’s that time of year again: the sun is shining, the days are long, the hills are beckoning . and swarms of midges are lying in wait. The scourge of the Scottish summer, the Highland midge, or Culicoides Impunctatus, to give it its proper name, has ruined many a day trip and camping holiday. It’s by no means a recent phenomenon; back in 1872 even Queen Victoria was forced to abandon a Highland picnic after complaining of being ‘half-devoured’ by the beasties.
Prevalent at dawn and dusk the midge is particularly problematic in the Highlands and Western Scotland where damp conditions provide perfect breeding grounds.
A single midge is almost invisible to the human eye, measuring one millimetre in length with a wingspan of less than two millimetres. The male is less of a nuisance, happy to feed off plants and nectar; it is the female of the species which is vicious. She requires blood to help form her eggs and when she’s alerted to our presence by smelling carbon dioxide in our breath she attacks — along with thousands of girlfriends!
According to research, a swarm can inflict about 3,000 bites in an hour, while 40,000 midges can land on an unprotected arm over the same period. After their — or more likely, your — retreat the effects of the attack can still be seen. The bite marks will be itchy, often lead to swelling and, occasionally, other complications.
But not everyone appears to be appetising to the midge; some remain oblivious to their attentions while others find they’re helpless in the face of the insects’ advances. There are many theories about what can offer the best protection from attack, ranging from citronella, bog myrtle, repellents including the chemical DEET, cigarette smoke or simply staying indoors at certain times of day. Research into midge bite prevention is on-going but as yet there has never been any official guidance on how best to beat the midge.
Your midge tales
At Scotland Outdoors we want to hear about your encounters with the nation’s least favourite beastie. Have you had to cut short holidays because of the presence of midges? What are your tips for avoiding the insects and what’s the best course of action if you’re unlucky enough to be attacked? Have you any photographic evidence of midge attacks? Will you be trying out new prevention tactics this summer? Let us know how you get on.
Use the form at the bottom of this page to get in touch or email us. Keep coming back to this page over the course of the summer to read other users’ advice and experiences.
Play the game!
Fed up being eaten alive each summer? Get some target practice in by attempting to kill as many midges as you can in our great game Armidgegeddon.
Page first published on Wednesday 7th May 2008
Page last updated on Monday 5th January 2009
I’ve found a brilliant way to avoid getting bitten by midges on holiday — DON’t GO ANYWHERE NEAR SCOTLAND.
i walk across a bridge in glasgow south side to get to work any you are just about tearing your skin with the amount of midges that attack you. unfortunately i have no other route to get to my work so i nedd to run when i get to this bridge as they all seem to swarm above the river clyde
just visited family in Thurso did some gardening, now suffering,back home in wet YORKSHIRE midge free.Did use Avonskin so soft but got bit to death! area’s you would’nt believe! Still worth it breathtaking scenery.
Hi, me and my sister were going to do the west highland way next june but I’ve changed my mind! I am thinking about doing the fife coastal path to avoid the midges. Has anybody got any experience of the east coast and whether midges are a problem there??
I sea kayak but from the end of May to October simply avoid the west coast. We usually battle sea breezes during the day, by the time we camp up, our tents are pitched, and it’s time to enjoy the setting sun and some food/wine the wind dies completely and it’s out with the midge nets. I usually just go to bed at this point they ruin everything at the end of the day!Applecross peninsula was the worst we had them once. no point going there with this guaranteed misery. Will be back October with a 4 season bag, rather be cold than eaten alive any day.
went to kielder last week got eaten alive lovely place to visit and camp but unbearible midgies.
AFTER READING ALL THE COMMENTS ON MIDGES IN SCOTLAND, WE WILL REROUTE AND CATCH THE FERRY TO IRELAND! WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO THE HIGHLANDS AS WE HAVE HEARD SO MANY TALES OF THE BEAUTIFUL SCENERY., BUT I SWELL UP IF A HOUSE FLY BITES ME SO I’LL NOT GIVE THE LITTLE BLIGHTERS A MEAL.
I too have found Avon’s SSS helpful and have recently been advised to try yeast tablets as the little blighters don’t like the taste. I have also tried eating Marmite too — but drinking beer must be a better alternative? Anyone else had any success stories with yeast? Oh, and lavendar is supposed to repell them too — must try that next time!
Oh migod! I’m scared stiff now are there midges in lake district?
We’re going on holiday to the highlands next week so have been interested in all your comments. I’m concerned about what Jenny said about this «Skin so Soft» being an oil and therefore making it easier for your skin to burn. Sunburn is much more of a hazard than midge bites so I’m going to try and find an alternative.
If you are using Skin So Soft, remember to put suncream on before applying — SSS is an oil and you can burn easily.
Over several years of walking and fishing the highlands, I have found mossigard, a product boots sold ( maybe they still do) worked for me. It will not stop you getting bitten, but they do not seem to devour you as without it on. The only downside with it ( and other repellents such as DEET or cirtonella, is that when the sweat runs off your brow as you are walking uphill, mixes with the stuff, your eyes sting like hell!The other answer is don not wash or use shampoo, scent or aftershave,at least a couple of days before you go walking, and for some people that works!
I live in Wester Ross. It’s early morning as I write this and I have just battled through a cloud of midgies — honestly, a real thick cloud — to go and let my chickens out. This morning I’ve covered myself with Jungle Formula, even better than Skin So Soft. If this was the United States, the authorities would spray the entire area regularly to get rid of the midge population. This is the loveliest part of the world but completely ruined by the midge. Many people like myself are eventually forced to sell up and move south because they can no longer cope with the bites.
I spent a wonderful week on Skye two weeks ago, with hardly a midge in sight, so they are not always a problem. I have been midged-on before and know how nightmare-ish it can be, but I wouldn’t let it stop me from going (I might not choose to camp, however!).The plus side is that Scotland would be over-run with tourists if it wasn’t for the midges!
The Dark Peak midges can be almost as bad as those in Scotland, but my worst experience was in the Cheviots several years age where I ferll into a steam whilst trying to get the damned things off me.
Oh my god. Meant to be going to bridge of orchy for a week with my hubby and 9 month old baby. Dont care if we get eaten alive, but what about the bairn?! Might just need to leave her at grandmas for a week.
A friend told me to drink beer a few days before going into the wild, the midges don’t like the yeast in the blood from the beer.being a tea-totaller another option to to eat marmite. Never actually tried either of these myself, but maybe somebody else has.Happy Scratching !!
My family and me have just spent the weekend camping at Loch Lomond, beautiful area, fishing for free, but. we beat a hasty retreat this morning ( sunday )as the midges were just toooooooo much, my wife is absolutly covered in bites and i am not much better, they are a nightmare, strange though the kids (2 and 9 ) never had a single bite between them . solution tie a small child to you and stay midge free, nothing else will work!
Use Skin so soft ,, we thought it helped so much
Hang on a minute. Midges do not just bite in Scotland. We were staying at Kielder caravan park at the weekend and both my husband and myself were chewed to bits. All his bites have calmed down butI have huge red scabby bites that are driving me mad. Is it true that odourless garlic tablets keep midges (both Scottish and English) away? We use Avon Skin So Soft but these wee english midges at the weekend were persistent.
We are having a BBQ on Saturday. We live in the moors about West Linton and the midges are a nightmare from hell. They love our English skin. We put bottles of Avon Skin So Soft next to our bottles of Pinot Grigio for our friends and kids to spray on themselves. That seems to work!!
bill and bernice. argyll and bute.
midges hate. skin so soft by avon. they also hate scented moisture cream or even sun cream. as we noted they didnt attack the grandchildren. However, noticed they attacked our BLACK DOG terribly, so i threw a white towel over the dog. wow. it worked they went away. not that bad now i know. I also used windowlene (pink one) on the car windows. wow it helps. and you can buy that mesh for doors to stop insects. it also stops midges. hope it helps.
We went camping in Glencoe. It was really beautiful.But the midges were biting in full force. We tried everything that was recommended but nothing worked. Avon skin so soft, Didnt work,A herbal remedy to put on the skin, didnt work,a spray ,didnt work we bought face nets and we made a video on a mountain were I was sat down and my legs were covered in midges.We are off to scotland next week for our 2 weeks holiday and we have a big bag full of repellents of every description.
Have suffered many times from midge attacks, but agree that Skin so soft dry oil spray is very effective if regularly applied. Recently, while on backpacking trips, I’ve had 2 bottles solidify. Does anyone have an explanation?
A few years ago my father and I camped in Oban and got eaten alive. When I got into the tent I could fell them biting my face as I was trying to sleep,so I put the torch on and spent the next half hour or so, squashing them one at a time. Then finally got some sleep. I bought some mossy spray from the local pharmacy. The following day I sprayed my arms and face earlier. Just before I got into my tent, I looked at my arms and it looked liked a long black mark on my arms, this was the midges stuck to my spray,but never qot bitten again. But i had all these little lumps on my legs and arms for a few weeks after.(from the midges)
Can anyone advise which of the Avon Skin so Soft products it is — there is a ‘blue spray’ bottle in the Avon catalogue but it is a softening body oil — is this the correct one.
Just got back from a weeks camping and touring in West Scotland,The Highlands,stayed on Skye 1 night which was ok until the wind dropped then out came the midges,used the skin-so soft by Avon which helped but the sheer volume of midges left us with too many bites to count,needless to say we beat a hasty retreat off Skye,we headed up to Gairlock and Durness which was loads better,Glencoe was also bad for midges so we ended up driving to the Lake District after finally admitting defeat,love Scotland but hate those midges!!
HI TO THE FAMILY CAMPING IN DUMFRIES, YOU ARE SAFE NO MIDGES HERE
Smear Jam (any flavour) on exposed skin. doesn’t stop them biting but it rots the little blighters teeth!!
We are having a wedding near Dumfries in June this year will the we beasties want a bite of us.
What time of year do the midges appear? We are thinking of cycling in the Western Isles at the end of May. Will we need to take precautions?
Last May we had a glorious 2 weeks on Mull.midges were not a problem. We then went to Resipole and everyone was wearing net covering from head to toe,except us! We were bitten all over and left there in a hurry, went to Callendar, not a midge in sight-bliss!
Two sides to every story, would the western side of scotland have remained so remote & beautiful had it not been for the midges ?
I am hoping to stay at Luce Bay in June. Does anyone know what the midge situation is in that area and time of year. Are there problems with ticks on dogs too?
HI ME AND MY FRIENDS WAS IN SCOTLAND LAST JULY THE MIDGES WAS SO BAD,I FOUND THAT THE HIGHER IN SCOTLAND YOU ARE THE LESS MIDGES,ALSO AVON SKIN SO SOFT IS BRILLIANT TO KEEP THEM AWAY AND GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN.GOING BACK THIS JUNE LOVE SCOTLAND
was going to skye . not going now
Scott Morrison, Argyll
Having been in the TA and Army and lived in the North West of Scotland all my life, I can confirm that Skin so soft by Avon is the best repellant, however it has to be the blue ‘spray on’ type, normally only available from Avon or some boots stores and you need to keep your skin moist with frequent sprays otherwise it dries off and becomes redundant rather quickly!
Avoid Glen Trool area, it’s called midge valley, tried skin so soft to no avail. We ended up in bed at around six every night for a week, not fun with three kids!There were some german people there who had been taking the non odourless garlic capsules for around six weeks before their trip and they sat out all evening with no troubles!
TRY EATING A GARLIC BUD EACH DAY FOR A WEEK BEFORE HEADING OFF CAMPING,I FIND THIS ALONG WITH SOME AUTAN AND SKIN SO SOFT MIX WORKS WELL BUT DO REMEMBER DUSK AND DAWN IS MIDGE TIME OR WHEN THE WIND DROPS LOOK OUT.
I have heard there is a midge watch site that you can log onto. This would help. does anyone know this web site?
Beware of possibly fake «Skin-So-Soft» products. We were sold a bottle without an Avon logo that did not bear the original graphics. It did look very similar at first sight (same colour and shape), but at closer inspection it seemed like a typical bootleg. I don’t know if there are different designs inside the Avon product lines, but concerning midgie repellant qualities, this one did not quite live up to its expectations. It did not stop the midges from sitting down on the skin, it just seemed to reduce the biting rate, albeit without cancelling it out completely. I’d say it was about 70% or so successful, but with midgies you should really be doing a lot better than that.
Last year in August, we camped on the shores of Loch Lomond. We are regular campers, however, never in this area. On the first day, we were laughing at the «tourists» with their midgey hats on, typical «tourists» or so we thought! Later that evening we were sitting outside the tents after having our barbeque. All of a sudden we were finding midgeys in our drinks, on the table, on us! It got so bad, we abandoned our leisurely evening and went to bed. The next day wasn’t as bad. However, on the last day it had been raining in the morning and the afternoon overcast and then they came. Millions of the beasties attacked us while we were taking down our tent, we had to send the kids to the car as they were crying. I was helping my husband dismantle the tent, I was almost in tears and felt like leaving the whole lot to the midgeys! When we finally got the car packed, we were covered in red bites all over our bodies. I have never experienced anything like it and as I said before, we have camped all over Scotland. It looks like the last laugh was on us! We are going camping this year to Dumfries area and I hope we do not experience anything like what we did before. We have two bottles of Avon Skin So Soft, so hopefully that will help!
I can vouch for the Avon Skin-so-soft, after descending off Ben Vrackie into the Glen of Killicrankie and starting to get bitten, the moisturiser was applied before heading down into Pitlochry — it really does keep the wee blighters away — thankfully!
Vitamin B1 tablets — 100mg once a day for 2 weeks beforehand may not keep them away — but if they bite, there is hardly any evidence. Also — no soaps. Based on several years experience in the Western Isles.
Anthisan Cream seems to help calm down the angry red lumps caused by the little blighters. We have been midge free in the trossachs — till tonight — the evening after the rain! Tonight I can’t finish the washing up in the kitchen, they got me, so it’s anthisan cream out then lights out and hide till the morning!
Having climbed two wonderful Munros we descended down to Glen Etive from the White Corries side of Glencoe. It had been a brilliant August Day and warm enough for a ‘skinny dip’ in a pool near to the glen road. Later, we found an ideal place to pitch the tent and once erected we headed off to the Kingshouse for food and after a few hours found our tent in the dark and settled down for the night. We reflected on how lucky we had been avoid the ‘midge’ as it had been awful at the Kingshouse Hotel with people walking around in full net suits. And then the attack began! First they aimed for my ears and then my eyelids, so i covered up as much as I could. But they persisted and once they bombarded my mouth & nose it was just too much. MMeanwhile my wife slept on! Too Bad. I was up in a shot, I dragged her out of the tent in her bag, nudged the tent poles into the middle and the tent collapsed. In under a minute we, the tent and the car were heading back to Edinburgh, and in our beds before sunrise.
Just returned from a fishing and camping weekend on Ardnamurchan. Scenery and weather outstanding but now counting the cost of camping beside slow running water and trees. 30 plus angry red bites on one hand, 25 on the other and I’m just not going to count the ones on each arm. Use Skin so Soft to keep the midge away, as apperently this is what the British Army is trialing at the moment. Let me say that the trial is a complete waste of time. Next time I am simply going to cover up better and camp beside the sea or shoreline.
Avon do a spray — Skin so soft — 2 scents;guys can fet away with it.and it is the best midge/mozzie repellent we have found yet.
I moved to Arrochar from Northern Ireland last year and locals in Fort William swear by Avon «Skin so Soft» moisturising lotion. Having been bitten soon after arrival I tried the Avon lotion and can confirm that it really does keep the wee blighters away!!
Just two points:1) I lived in Skye for a while — my neighbour was a fine old Sgiathanach — born and bred there, worked the land all his life. I remember him often complaining about the «meanbh-chuileag» (the midge in Gaelic)I thought «theres no hope for the likes of me — if a retired crofter suffers from midges, I might as well resign myself to it — for it was obvious that you simply dont get «used to them»There was another instance when the late Donaidh Chrotail of Breakais once said to me «Uill, a Sheumais, that a’chuileag dona an nochd!» Trans: Well, James, the midges are bad tonight!» It was interesting to hear that he simply said «a’chuileag» meaning «the fly» rather than»meanbh-chuileag» (the little fly) for midges specifically.2) Still on the Gaelic theme, I remember reading a while ago a comment someone made, that there is very little referenceto midges in Gaelic literature, poetry, songs etc.Strange, considering how bad they are and how widespread.Could it be that they are a lot more widespread today than they were a long time ago? Just a thought.James WestlandMull
We have just had a wonderful holiday on the island of Shona spoilt only by the midges. We covered up best we could I didn’t get too many bites but my husband’s arms were covered in red angry bites, they didn’t attack me so much I only got one or two. He had to go outside on one of the evenings to take a call it was the only way he could get a signal on the mobile and when he came back inside he was just covered in these red bites we had to cover his arms in cream, two weeks later and his scars are subsiding but I think there will always be marks. I wouldn’t let it stop us holidaying there again the place was out of this world but I would cover up more and take every cream and lotion going. We found Piriton helped quite a lot too.
The best methods to get rid of midges in your house and in your garden
If you are fed up with midges, it’s time to become more offensive and to get rid of them definitively. Some of these tips will prevent them from reappearing. Another one is all about setting up a trap for these despicable bugs.
1) On your plants
If midges seem to be make your plants their home, it’s probably because they only lay eggs on damp soils. If you stop watering them until you get a dry soil, then midges and larvae will die. When they all seem to be dead, you can start watering your plants again. When adult midges seem to be flying around the plant, you can also spray on your plants some water mixed with a bit of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of liquid soap.
If you don’t notice any improvement, you can still repot the plant.
2) Set up a trap
If midges are particularly numerous in one room, you could try to set up a trap in order to get rid of them.
What you’ll need :
- A jar or an old can
- A lid with little holes in it (you can use a piece of cardboard if you want)
- Cider vinegar (or white vinegar with a few drops of lemon)
Step by step :
1) Fill in the jar with a little bit of vinegar.
2) Put the lid over the jar. The holes should be big enough for the midges to be able to come in but not too big because we want them to stay inside the jar.
3) Place the jar in the infected area. The midges will be attracted by the vinegar.
4) Once the jar is full, you can throw it away.
3) In the pipes
If the midges come from your sink you can get rid of it by simply pour olive oil in the pipe. The midges will be attracted by the smell but they will be stuck to the oil. You can repeat several time for a better effectiveness.
4) Get rid of any possible source of food
If you want them to disappear and never come you have to be careful, you shouldn’t let any food within easy reach. Indeed, they love food scraps more than anything else so put these scraps in your fridge or in a closed bin (a lid is absolutely essential).
How to Get Rid of Gnats
Although they aren’t harmful to humans, gnats are especially annoying, especially when they take up residence in the house. The mere existence of these pesky insects in the house can leave you feeling a bit twitchy and contemplating what led them inside, to begin with. The good news is, we’ve compiled this ultimate guide on how to get rid of gnats.
A common culprit for drawing gnats is rotting fruit, but that isn’t the only thing that will make these tiny flying insects find their way inside. Everything from trash bags containing spoiled food, dirty dishes, and damp potting soil will bring these pests into your home.
If you’ve discovered you have a gnat infestation in your home; there are a handful of cunning tactics and DIY repellents that will work in getting rid of gnats in your house. These clever tricks require nothing more than everyday household products that you probably already have in your refrigerator, pantry, and kitchen cabinets.
Getting Rid of Gnats
While most species of gnats can’t harm you, they can be extremely annoying, leaving you wondering how to get rid of these pesky, flying insects.
Fortunately, there are several clever tactics for getting rid of gnats that require nothing more than a few everyday ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Here are the different strategies you can employ to get rid of gnats in every room of your house.
How to Effectively Eliminate Gnats in the Kitchen
If you have a swarm of gnats hanging around the fruit basket in the kitchen, you can trap gnats through a variety of means. There are numerous types of homemade gnat trap solutions that you can make at home that will quickly get rid of gnats in your kitchen. If you don’t have the time or resources to make a homemade gnat trap, you can opt to use disposable gnat traps or a UV light bug zapper.
Disposable fly traps are great for getting rid of flies fast, and are generally effective against most kinds of flies. These traps contain an attractant in a dormant state that is activated when you fill the trap with water. The attractant starts to emit a strong scent that gnats can’t resist. They enter the trap and then can’t escape, effectively drowning the gnat.
DIY Gnat Traps
If you want to make a DIY ant trap, you can use apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and a small container to effectively trap and kill gnats or as a natural fly killer.
Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Gnat Trap
- Jar with a lid of a small bowl
- ¾ cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 8 drops of liquid dish soap
Add the cider vinegar to the jar. Add the liquid dish soap to the liquid. Stir the ingredients, so the dish soap is thoroughly mixed with the vinegar. Take the lid of the jar and make small holes approximately ½ centimeter in diameter. Place the top on the pot and place it in an area that is infested with gnats.
Gnats are attracted to the scent of the apple cider vinegar and will enter the holes in the lid to reach the solution. When they sit over the surface of the liquid, the will drown because the dish soap reduces the surface tension of the solution. This is also an excellent fruit fly trap if you find you have an infestation of these pesky insects in your kitchen.
Gnats are also attracted to red wine. If you happen to have some leftover red wine, you can make an efficient gnat trap to rid your kitchen of gnats.
DIY Wine and Dish Soap Trap
- Glass or small container
- 5 drops liquid dish soap
- Leftover red wine
- A piece of cardboard or plastic wrap
Pour the leftover red wine into the container or glass. Next, put the dish soap into the glass. Stir the mixture well so that the dish soap thoroughly combines with the red wine. Make small, ½ centimeter holes in the piece of cardboard or plastic wrap and place it over the glass or the container.
As soon as the gnats smell the solution they will enter the pot, and like with the apple cider trap; they will get stuck in the liquid and drown.
How to Eliminate Gnats in the Bathroom
It can be particularly aggravating to have gnats swarming around your sink or tub drains. Unfortunately, apple cider vinegar or red wine won’t be enough to handle the problem in this instance.
If you find gnats in bathroom hovering near the surface of the drain, use can use bleach diluted with water to control fungus gnats and drain flies. Combine half a cup of bleach to one gallon of water and pour it down the drain.
Repeat the process as needed until you effectively get rid of the gnats. Make sure that you wear protective gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling the harmful bleach fumes.
Kill Drain Flies with Ammonia
Ammonia is also an active pest control ingredient for fungus gnat control. If the source of your gnat infestation is the bathroom sink or tub drain, pour a cup of ammonia down the drain.
The toxic fumes from the ammonia will damage the breathing tubes of the fungus gnat larvae, as well as killing the adult gnats. Be careful when working with ammonia because it is toxic to humans, always make sure to wear protective gear when working with ammonia.
Pour Olive Oil Down the Sink
If you don’t have any vinegar or red wine handy, you can pour vegetable oil or olive oil into your kitchen sink. These oils will create a thick coating around the gnats, making them immobile, and keeping them from being able to feed and reproduce.
While you may need to repeat this process multiple times, it is an extremely effective method for getting rid of gnats and other flying pests.
How to Rid Your Office of Gnats
You can effectively get rid of gnats in the office with the help of a spray bottle, vinegar, and dish soap. All you need to do is fill an empty spray bottle with one tablespoon of vinegar, one cup of water, and a few drops of liquid dish soap.
When you see a gnat flying around your head, spray it in the air with the solution. The dish soap will coat their wings, making them unable to fly. The most significant part of this solution is that it won’t harm any of your indoor plants.
How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside
Like mosquitoes, gnats can be extremely challenging to control outside, because the issues may reach beyond your property lines. It can be challenging to repel gnats in the yard if they are flying in from a nearby farm or lake. You can take the following steps to make your yard a bit less inviting for these pesky flying insects and learn how to get rid of gnats outside.
Keep Rotting Plant Debris to a Minimum
Start by keeping your garden free of fungus, mold, and rotting plant debris. You’ll need to pay particular attention to any shady areas in your yard that might have poor circulation. If you compost, make sure that you locate your compost pile as far from your house as possible and cover your trash cans.
During the fall, make sure you clean up the fallen leaves and debris quickly. Make sure you don’t overwater your yard and allow enough time between watering to allow the top layer of soil to dry out.
Avoid Standing Water
You can also adjust your garden soil to improve the drainage and make sure that you don’t have any standing water in low spots, gutters, and drainage areas. To help moldy layers dry out, occasionally rake or turn sodden mulch over.
Keep Gutters and Drainage Areas Clean
Finally, if your garden or yard has naturally damp regions, dress the soil with an inch or less of sand to help discourage gnats that are looking for moist soil to lay their eggs.
How to Get Rid of Gnats in Plants
In most cases, your houseplants are to blame for a recent infestation of gnats in your home. One sure-fire way to rid your home of gnats is to get rid of your houseplants.
However, this isn’t always a popular move since you can gain a tremendous number of benefits from having plants indoors. Here are some practical ways for repelling gnats that don’t require you to get rid of your plants.
Use a Garden and Fruit Insect Killer
When gnats are invading your plants, you can head to your local home improvement store and purchase a safe fruit and garden insect killer. The only step you have to take is to spray the commercial insecticide over your houseplants. The chemicals are safe to use around your plants and fruit while eliminating the adult gnats and are sometimes effective for how to get rid of fire ants, as well.
Remove the Top Layer of Soil
Gnats will generally lay their eggs on the top layer of potting mix in your indoor planters. To get rid of this nuisance, take your plants outside and remove an inch of the soil’s top layer.
Once you get rid of the top layer of soil, add some more potting mix to the plant if needed and bring them back inside.
Spray Your Windows and Doors with Gnats Spay
Some gnats will leave the comfort of your plants and congregate near your windows and doors. Spray these areas with insect killer to kill the adult gnats and keep them from laying new eggs.
Add Dish Soap to Your Watering Can
When you water your houseplants, add a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap to the water. Make sure you stir the liquid to thoroughly combine the ingredients, then water your plants as usual.
The soap in the water will help to get rid of the gnats without harming your plants.
Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Gnats
When dealing with pesky gnats, there are several inexpensive and quick-fire ways to eradicate the pests. From natural repellents to homemade gnat sprays, the following methods will help you kill fungus gnats and keep them away for good.
Vanilla – The Powerful Gnats Repellent
Gnats detest the smell of vanilla. One way to keep gnats from swarming you is to apply a homemade vanilla repellent over the exposed areas of your skin.
Homemade Vanilla Gnat Repellent
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water
- Cotton ball
Take the vanilla extract and add it to the water, stirring to combine. Take the cotton ball and dip it into the vanilla repellent and apply it to a small section of your skin, preferably your forearm, to test for allergic reaction.
If you don’t show any signs of an allergy, then apply the mixture to the exposed areas of your skin before venturing outside.
Repelling Gnats with Citronella Oil
One of the few things that gnats and other species of flies hate the most is citronella oil. To deter gnats and keep them from swarming around you and invading your home, you can prepare a spray using citronella oil.
DIY Citronella Oil Gnat Spray
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons citronella oil
- 6 drops liquid dish soap
- An empty spray bottle
Mix the water, citronella oil, and dish soap. Pour the mixture into the spray bottle and spray the mixture around your home. Make sure you spray near your garbage cans and plants.
This spray will not only kill gnats, but it is safe to use around your pets and won’t kill your plants.
Diluted Rubbing Alcohol Spray
When gnats come into contact with a mixture of diluted rubbing alcohol, they quickly die. Add some rubbing alcohol and water to a spray bottle and spray any gnats that you see. When the mixture makes contact, they will die almost instantaneously.
When you have gnats invading your home and kitchen, lemon oil is one of the best essential oils to keep spiders and gnats away, and it leaves your house smelling citrusy fresh.
This is one of the easiest methods for repelling gnats because all you have to do is add the essential oil to your diffuser and turn it on. The continuous mist released from the diffuser will both deter gnats and leave your house smelling fresh.
Best Essential Oils to Repel Gnats and Other Insects
- Tea tree
Essential oils, like lemon, have been effectively used for years to repel all kinds of insects. At the first sign of a gnat problem, add one of the essential oils that have been proven effective for repelling gnats to your diffuser and watch as they quickly disappear.
Non-DEET Gnat Repellent Spray
This revolutionary anti-gnat spray is made entirely from natural ingredients. It’s safe to use on kids, and you won’t have to worry about rashes, itching, or the unpleasant smell that accompanies repellents that contain DEET.
Not only does it repel gnats, but it also takes care of mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fire ants, fleas, and sand flies. The active ingredient in the spray is Geraniol, which is twice as potent as DEET and approved by the FDA.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is a significant pest control solution for not only dealing with gnats but for dealing with a whole host of other insects. Diatomaceous earth is composed of fossilized skeletons of diatoms.
It works by removing the waxes from the insect’s body and absorbs the oils from their outer cuticle, effectively killing them through dehydration. To use diatomaceous earth on fungus gnats, sprinkle some of the material on your potted plants to help keep the topsoil dry and kill any larvae in the soil or gnats that might land on the plant.
Every time you water the plant, make sure to add more diatomaceous earth to the soil to keep the gnats at bay.
How to Keep Gnats Away
There is very little that is more annoying than a swarm of gnats congregating around your house. The best method to keep you from having gnat problems is to keep them from coming into your home in the first place. There are several solutions that you can employ to prevent gnats from getting into your home.
Keeping areas in and around your house clean will reduce the chances of attracting gnats. Don’t allow food and drinks to sit out. If you spill something, clean it up immediately and make sure you are using a sealed trash can.
You also want to remove moisture from areas around your home, since this not only attracts the gnats in the first place, but moisture also creates the perfect environment for them to breed.
Take some time to walk around your house and note potential problem areas like pet bowls, bird baths, rain gutters, and low spots in your yard. If you have a plumbing leak, get it repaired quickly.
How to Kill Fungus Gnats
There are numerous ways to kill fungus gnats before they become a significant problem. You can use homemade drenches, cultural controls, bacterial insecticides, predatory nematodes, or any of the homemade gnat repellent sprays mentioned previously.
Homemade Dish Soap Methods
You can effectively treat gnat infestations and deal with a variety of pests with a homemade insecticidal dish soap spray. These kinds of sprays won’t hurt the beneficial insects in your garden, like ladybugs and bees, but will effectively eliminate pesky fungus gnats and other harmful insects.
Researchers theorize that liquid dish soaps remove the waxes that coat the insects and cause them to dry out, effectively dying from dehydration.
Insects Killed by Liquid Dish Soap
- Spider mites
- Fungus gnats
- Japanese beetles
- Boxelder bugs
To use dish soap to get rid of fungus gnats, combine one tablespoon of liquid dish soap with one quart of water. Add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray the solution over your plants.
You may want to test the solution on an inconspicuous leaf to ensure that it won’t damage the plant. If the spray causes damage, you can adjust the formula by mixing two tablespoons of dish soap with one quart of water.
DIY Castile Soap Spray
- 1 tablespoon Castile soap
- 1 quart distilled water
Castile soap and other all-natural soaps contain fatty acids, which are the active ingredient in most insecticidal soaps. Pour the ingredients in an empty spray bottle and vigorously shake to combine the ingredients. Spray the plant and the soil with the solution to eliminate fungus gnats.
Some plants are sensitive to soap solutions, so always test the solution on an inconspicuous leaf and wait 24 hours before applying the solution to the rest of the plant.
Kill Fungus Gnats with Hydrogen Peroxide
When they come into contact with hydrogen peroxide, fungus gnats will die. To use hydrogen peroxide to kill the fungus gnats, mix one cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide, with three cups of water.
Water your plants with the mixture. When the hydrogen peroxide makes contact, it will kill the gnat larvae and eggs without damaging your plants.
The easiest way to eliminate fungus gnats around your plants is to allow the top one to two inches of soil to dry out before you water the plants. If the ground tends to stay wet for long periods, you may want to consider repotting the plant with the fresh potting mix.
Start by removing any decaying or dead bulbs, roots, or other organic material before replanting in a new pot. Add new potting soil to the pot to fill in around the root ball and gently tamp the soil down.
Once the plant has been re-potted, thoroughly water it and allow the soil to completely dry before you water it again.
Steinernema feltiae or predatory nematodes will feed on the larvae of fungus gnats and a variety of other insects. Before adding the microscopic worms to the soil, make sure to soak the area because nematodes prefer dark, moist environments.
After the nematodes are added to the earth, they will feed on any larvae they find. You can also add the beneficial bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bti, to the soil. Bti is exceptionally effective against fungus gnats and other fly species.
You can also create a physical barrier that will prevent fungus gnats from being able to access the soil. Gnat nix has been scientifically proven to be effective in creating a physical barrier between the soil and the gnats. The product is made from 100 percent recycled glass and is non-toxic making it safe to use around your house.
Covering the ground with just a ½ of an inch of the Gnat nix will prevent the gnat eggs from hatching, will keep the larvae from growing, and deter female gnats from laying their eggs.
There is no doubt about it; gnats are annoying pests that everyone could do without. If you find your house has become infested with these flying insects, there are plenty of non-toxic and inexpensive ways you can deal with them.
Let’s look into what gnats are and why they seem to attract gnats to your home.
What are Gnats?
Many people are under the belief that gnats are the immature stage of flies. However, in reality, they are tiny adult flying insects in the Diptera order. The Diptera order also includes mosquitos, midges, black flies, and crane flies. Due to their small size, the gnat is commonly referred to as the “no-see-ums.”
Gnats are considered “true” insects based on their anatomy. They have three body segments that include the head, the thorax, and the abdomen, as well as six legs, and either a single or double pair of wings. Most types of gnats have long legs compared to the size of their body, and while most have wings, they aren’t great fliers.
Gnats also have different mouthparts that fall into one of three categories. They are either sucking, piercing, or lapping. Some of the species are biting gnats that feed on blood, while others will feed on plants and other insects.
Types of Gnats
Many different kinds of gnats can invade your home. However, there are only a few varieties that make their home in the United States and that are common invaders of homes.
Most Common Types of Gnats in the United States
- Fungus gnats
- Drain flies
- Sand flies
- Eye gnats
- Buffalo gnats
Fungus gnats, also known as winter gnats or soil gnats. These kinds of gnats, as the name suggests, are linked to microscopic fungi and are one of the more common household pests. Fungus gnats thrive in damp environments that contain decaying matter where fungi can grow.
You will typically find winter gnats in places where the humidity levels are high. They are commonly found in ordinary houseplants where the potting soil is overwatered, or around potted plants where the water can’t properly drain. The moist soil creates an extremely favorable environment for the gnats to feed on decaying matter and thrive. Leaky roofs and plumbing leaks can also cause breeding sources.
Drain flies are also known as the moth fly. These small flies are less than one-fourth of an inch in length and appear to be furry because of their hairy bodies and wings.
Adult drain flies have long antennae and broad, leaf-shaped wings and are typically found in kitchens, bathrooms, and other damp environments. These pests are aptly named because they lay their eggs in drains, so their larvae can feed on the bacteria inside the pipes once they hatch.
Midges, both biting and non-biting
Midges are a flying insect that closely resembles the mosquito. The main difference between the two is that the midges have a much shorter snout. Their wings also differ from those of mosquitoes, in that the female midges wings are feathered and the males are bushy.
They have soft bodies and range in length from a tiny one-thirty-second of an inch to one inch. You usually find midges in large swarms around lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams. They are attracted to light and like to congregate around streetlights and porch lights.
Depending on the species, sand flies can be golden, gray, or brown. They are tiny flying insects, only measuring approximately one-sixteenth of an inch in length. However, even with their small size, the bite of these flies feels more like a sting and pack a painful punch.
Sand flies are native to subtropical and tropical regions. The female sand flies have piercing mouthparts and feed on the blood of humans and other mammals. The United States is home to six different species of gnats, none of which are known to transmit disease. However, in other parts of the world, sand flies have been known to spread the sandfly fever virus to its unsuspecting prey. Fortunately, this virus is very rarely fatal.
Eye gnats are known by many different names, including eye flies and grass flies, and they belong to the Chloropidae family of flies. They are very tiny flies and are attracted to the fluids that humans and animals secret from the nose, eyes, and ears.
They are known to transmit eye diseases and conditions like pink eye. They can thrive in a variety of environments but prefer to live in areas with loose sandy soil.
Buffalo gnats, also known as black flies, are named so due to their humpbacked appearance. They are only one-eighth of an inch in size, and you can usually find them in late spring and early summer.
To fulfill their protein needs so they can produce eggs, female buffalo gnats are known to swarm around birds, humans, and other animals and bite them. Male buffalo gnats feed on nectar and don’t typically bite. They are mostly found near streams and lakes because they prefer the clean, fast-running water in which to lay their eggs.
Life Cycle of a Gnat
Gnats have a relatively short life cycle but reproduce regularly. From egg to adult, gnats only live for about four weeks, but each female can lay up to 300 eggs.
They like to lay their eggs in areas with moist soil, which hatch into larvae after just a few days of incubating in the warm temperatures. The larvae stages last about ten days, after which they will enter into a pupal stage, and then metamorphosis into winged adults within a week.
The adults can live up to ten days more and may produce up to 300 eggs before they die.
Do Gnats Bite?
Yes, several species of gnats will bite humans. However, it is only the females of these species that will bite; the males only feed on flower nectar and other plant juices. The females bite mammals because they need a blood meal in order to reproduce effectively.
For them to create eggs, they need a good amount of protein, and to fulfill this requirement, they will bite both humans and cattle. Fortunately, most biting gnats won’t transmit diseases.
Common Types of Biting Gnats
- Deer flies
- Buffalo gnats
- Biting midges
- Stable flies
- Sand flies
Gnat Bite Symptoms
A gnat bite can be extremely painful and can cause the skin around the bite to swell and itch for several days. The area where you’ve been bitten will become red and may cause skin irritation or a burning sensation around the bite.
Unfortunately, you may also experience fever for several hours after being bitten, and less than two percent of people may find it difficult to breathe or may break out in hives.
Treating Gnat Bites
The most important step that you can take if a gnat has bitten you is to disinfect the area. Use soap and water to clean the area or use alcohol or vinegar based disinfectant. To ensure that the wound heals quickly without further complications, you can apply an antiseptic to the area with a cotton swab.
If the bite starts to itch, then you can apply an anti-itch product or pain reliever, depending on the severity of the pain you are experiencing. Whatever you do, try not to itch the wound to avoid introducing bacteria to the area.
When to Call a Doctor
- If the bitten area is very swollen.
- If you have difficulty breathing.
- If you break out in hives.
- If you feel swelling of the throat, mouth, or chest.
- If the area begins to drain yellow or greenish pus.
How to Protect Yourself from Gnat Bites
If you find yourself getting bitten by gnats, there are several ways you can prevent these pesky insects from taking a bit out of you. Start by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and try to leave as little of your skin exposed.
If you are planning on being outside for a while, apply DEET repellents and stay inside during dusk when biting gnats are most active. If you are sitting on your porch or in your yard, use a table fan to keep the gnats from invading your space.
Finally, avoid wearing cologne, perfume, and other scented lotions as these will attract both sand gnats and other pests.
Difference Between Fruit Flies and Gnats
Both fungus gnats and fruit flies are common household pests that can be a nuisance to homeowners. They also cause many of the same problems, making it easy for homeowners to misidentify them.
While these flying pests have very similar habits and look alike, they are entirely different.
Both gnats and fruit flies are common nuisance insects that are often confused for one another because it can be difficult to tell them apart.
In the fruit flies vs. gnats debate, gnats are typically one-sixteenth of an inch long and are glossy black and have long legs that are noticeable when they are flying and have segmented antennae that are longer than their heads and wings. Fruit flies, on the other hand, are typically brown-orange or beige and have bright red eyes and black tails.
Fruit Flies vs. Gnats
- Difference in color
- Belong to different families of the insect order Diptera
- Prefer different habitats
- Have different life cycles
- Gnats bite and fruit flies don’t
Both fruit flies and gnats belong to the insect order Diptera, which are considered the true flies. However, they belong to distinct families within the Diptera order.
The common fruit fly falls under two families, the Drosophila, and the Tephritidae. The smaller fruit flies belong to the Drosophilidae, while the larger and more colorful fruit flies belong in the Tephritidae family.
Gnats, on the other hand, belong in the suborder Nematocera and are usually separated into the families, Mycetophilidae, Sciaridae, and Anisopodidae.
You can find fruit flies all over the world. Since they are attracted to ripening fruit, you will typically find them in the kitchen, restaurants, and anywhere else you might find fruit.
Female fruit flies lay their eggs on decaying fruits and vegetables so that the larvae have food when they emerge. You can typically find fruit flies in tropical rainforests, desert, cities, swamps, and alpine zones; however, there are more species found in tropical regions than any other climate.
You will find gnats in damp and moist places like the forest, swamps, and meadows where they thrive in the foliage and flowerpots. Gnats also like to congregate around large bodies of water so they can absorb the carbon dioxide released by the algae. They tend to fly together in large flocks, known as ghosts. Female gnats lay their eggs in the soil and will begin to consume any food source within reach.
Female gnats will generally lay about 200 eggs, with approximately 90 percent of them being female. Within a week the gnat eggs will hatch, and the larvae will start to emerge and feed on fungi, decaying organic matter and animal feces.
About a week later, they will metamorphose into pupae, before developing into adult gnats about a week later. After this, they typically last for another week, when the females mate and once again lay their eggs.
Fruit flies will live for approximately 30 days, but if the conditions are right, they can live up to three months. Female fruit flies will lay up to 400 eggs, which hatch within 15 hours. The larvae take four days to grow and feed on microorganisms the decompose the fruit along with the sugar found in the fruit.
After four days, the larvae metamorphose into pupae for another four days. Then they emerge again into adult fruit flies. Within 12 hours of appearing, the females will start laying eggs starting the cycle over again.
How to Effectively Get Rid of Fruit Flies and Gnats
When interacting with humans, both the gnats and the fruit flies are considered pests. Unlike fruit flies, gnats can bite humans; however, their bites aren’t harmful. The good news is that both gnats and fruit flies seem to respond to the same methods when it comes to how to get rid of gnats and fruit flies.
Conventional methods for how to get rid of fruit flies fast include, trapping them in a jar of apple cider vinegar and dish soap, pouring leftover red wine in a pot to catch them, and pouring bleach down the bathroom and kitchen sink.
To prevent a gnat infestation be sure to clean dirty dishes, taking out the garbage often, changing out potting soil, and drying damp areas in the house.
What Attracts Gnats?
It doesn’t matter what type of gnat is flying around you; one thing’s for sure, they are annoying pests. While many small, flying insects are characterized as gnats, many of them, like the fungus gnat, buffalo gnat, and black gnats, are in actuality small flies.
The common flies that are considered gnats are phorid flies, fruit flies, and sand flies. Regardless of the name you give them, they always tend to show up when you least expect it.