Why Are Gnats in My Apartment?

Despite how little they are, gnats can cause chaos in your house. This is especially due to their ability to multiply so fast. For this reason, it is important to find out the reason why they are there in the first place and try to come up with solutions for the problem.

Getting rid of gnats will not be difficult once you find the root cause of the infestation. There are plenty of methods in place to assist you to finally be free of these pesky creatures.

Keep reading to learn about these pests and how to recognize them together with possible reasons for infestation and how to get rid of them. 

What are gnats?

The term gnat can be widely used to describe a couple of insects. These are small insects with a long dark brown or black body. They vaguely resemble normal flies but they cannot fly very well.

Gnats can be put into two broad categories, biting and non-biting gnats. The ones that infest our homes and apartments are of the non-biting variety. Three types of gnats that are commonly found in houses are fruit flies, fungi gnats, and drain flies.

Fungus gnats are small and black. They are drawn to plants and decaying organic matter.

Fruit flies are attracted to fruits and vegetables, whether ripe or rotten. They are brown and they have red eyes. They have a lifespan of a couple of weeks, which is enough for them to reproduce and fill your house.

Drain flies resemble fruit flies except that they have black eyes. These gnats are drawn to damp and moist areas. They are more active at night and they walk and fly in a zig-zag pattern.

Why does my apartment have gnats?

Gnats love moisture since they procreate more in damp spaces. They also enjoy decaying organic material. With that in mind, take a look at some of the reasons that may be causing a gnat infestation in your apartment.

  • Moisture. Like I had said, gnats thrive in moisture. They can breed on food spillages, in moist soil, overwatered plants, trash cans, or other areas. 
  • Open fruits. As the name suggests, these insects are drawn to fruits especially if they are ripe and they have a sugary smell. If you have a fruit tree or a garden and fruits fall and rot on the ground, it may attract fruit flies.
  • They are also attracted to dirty dishes, and they get in through the window.
  • Light. Like most insects, gnats are fascinated by light. They are also unable to fly well in the dark. This causes them to fly around light bulbs. 
  • Decaying matter. Fungus gnats are named that way because they feed on fungus, mold, and other decaying organic matter. You might find them in your houseplants’ soil. There, they plan to feed on root rot or leaves that fall and rot.
  • Human beings. These insects are also drawn to human beings. Sweat and body heat makes them feel like the perfect breeding ground is near. They are also attracted to carbon monoxide, which is why they try to get into your nose. Also, they like the smells of sweet, fruity substances like perfumes, fabric softeners, and lotions.

How do I know that I have a gnat problem?

If you are having an infestation, it will not take you long before you start to notice these little bugs all over the house. You will see them flying around light bulbs, rotten produce, and areas with water.

Sometimes the gnats will be introduced to your apartment by your pets. Your furry friend will catch gnats if, while they were playing outside, passed a swarm of gnats.

Another way for gnats to make their way into your home is through the potted plants. This is because they offer perfect conditions for the fungus gnats to reproduce. If you want to know whether the soil in your plant pots is riddled with gnat larvae, leave a couple of potato wedges in the soil for a few days. If, when you pull the wedges out, they have larvae on them, the gnats have already infested that soil.

How do I get rid of the gnats in my apartment?

A gnats infestation can escalate quickly because of their reproduction rates. Here are a couple of solutions you can use to try and combat the situation.

Get rid of their homes

The best way to deal with these pesky creatures is to take away the places where they thrive the most because that is where they are laying more eggs and multiplying. 

  • To get rid of fungus gnats, you need to check on your house plants. Throw away the leaves that are on the soil. You should also consider replacing the soil and the pot liner in case there is anything on there. If you discover that the plant root is rotten, you should think about getting another plant.
  • Fruit flies breed in sweet fruits. Ensure there are no rotten fruits in the kitchen. When throwing them out, keep them in a well-tied plastic bag to keep the gnats from swarming around the trash and creating new breeding grounds.
  • Drain flies love moisture so to get them out of your apartment you have to dry out their home. Most of the time, the water is from leaking pipes and valves. Look for any leaks and plug them and cover any crevices where the gnats can hide and breed. Also, remember to keep your kitchen and bathroom floors and sinks dry and clean.

Eliminate the gnats on sight

Once you have curbed their multiplication, it is now time to deal with the larvae and adults. One of the best ways to do this is by using insect traps. Here are some of the most effective gnat traps.

1. Store-bought traps

These are manufactured in factories and they have a sweet sticky substance that attracts the gnats and once they are in contact with the trap, they cannot leave.

2. Vinegar traps

If you don’t want to spend your money on a gnat trap, you can make your own at home using household items that you probably already have. Some advantages of this method are that it is free of harsh chemicals and it eliminates all types of gnats. To make a vinegar trap, here are the instructions you should follow:

  • In a jar, mix some apple cider vinegar and a little bit of dish soap. Gnats love the smell of vinegar so it will attract them but the soap will make them unable to fly and trap them.
  • Cover the jar with some cling film. Make some holes in the cling film for the insects to get in through. Place the jar where the gnats like to stay.
  • After a few days, empty the jar and repeat the process until the day there will be no insects in the jar.

This solution can also be put in a spray bottle and used to eliminate gnats as they fly.

3. Wine traps

These work similar to the vinegar trap above. After putting some red wine in a jar, seal it with some plastic film and poke some holes in it.

4. Use bleach

Sometimes, your vinegar or wine trap will not be of much use. Such a case is when you have an infestation of drain flies. To use this technique, dilute around half a cup of bleach with a gallon of water. Pour this solution down the drains with the gnats. Leave the drain for around an hour and do not pour anything else down it for that time. Repeat this as often as possible until you cannot see any more gnats.

It is important to know that bleach can also be harmful to human beings. Ensure that you are wearing gloves and a protective face mask anytime you interact with bleach because the fumes can be corrosive. 

Also, ensure that the room that you are pouring bleach in is well aerated, and do not forget to watch out for children and pets.

How to prevent an infestation

Take a look at a few things you can do to ensure you do not get gnats in your apartment and if you already have, some ways to ensure they never return:

  • Have screens on your windows and get a storm door. The mesh will prevent the gnats from getting in to lay their eggs in your house. If the screens get torn, replace them as soon as possible.
  • Do your dishes. Gnats enjoy rotten food and leftovers so if you do your cleaning as you cook and do dishes immediately after you eat, they will have nothing to eat. Piling up dishes attracts drain flies and gnats.
  • Replace your doors. Wooden doors make perfect breeding grounds for gnats. This is because when wood absorbs moisture, it retains it and begins to rot and warp, creating the perfect breeding atmosphere. Consider upgrading to energy-efficient vinyl windows and doors built out of stainless steel or fiberglass.
  • Clean your bathroom and kitchen drains so that they are not nesting places. 

Final thoughts

Gnats can be a nuisance even if they do not bite. They can come into your house easily but luckily, if you know what you are doing, you can easily deal with this problem.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.