Gnats can be some of the most annoying bugs, especially when they get inside your home.
There are many different options for fighting these pests, including traps and sprays.
What are the best gnat traps and sprays to safely get rid of gnats? Yellow sticky traps, UV light traps, and bug zappers are highly effective for eliminating gnats. Perimeter, contact, and plant sprays are available in both indoor and outdoor formulations. Using personal repellents and removing attractants will help as well.
The options for products can be overwhelming. Read on to learn more about the best ways to fight gnat infestations in your home.
For a complete guide to the best prevention and elimination strategies, click here.
Best Practices for Preventing an Infestation
The term “gnat” is a general name for lots of different types of small, flying insects. It describes a large group of bugs, so there is no particular scientific distinction for a gnat.
Generally, however, a gnat is a tiny insect that flies in large numbers, called clouds.
Although gnats are active during the majority of daylight hours, you’ll most often see them at dusk as they swarm around your head whenever you head outside.
(Why do they tend to bother your face and ears so much? We explain that here.)
Most gnats do not bite, but some species like biting midges, black flies, sand flies, punkies, or no-see-ums suck the blood of mammals.
(More info on biting gnats can be found in this article.)
Aside from biting species, gnats are considered a nuisance instead of a hazard.
They do not cause major damage to plants (with the exception of houseplants) or homes.
However, some of the blood-sucking gnats carry diseases to humans and livestock.
Large clouds of gnats can occasionally swarm and devastate crops if there is a lack of water.
This is because of their need for moisture and organic material, which is their main source of food.
You will often see gnats feeding on decomposing food debris, rotting fruit, soil, or other sources of decomposing plant matter.
Learn what else tends to attract gnats, so you can remove all attractants as soon as possible.
Standing water in your home could attract gnats where they will then continue to develop and reproduce.
Some gnats are fungus gnats, meaning they are attracted to fungus in potted plants and areas in which rotting occurs.
Curious as to how exactly gnats are gaining access to you house? Read this to find out.
The type of gnat that invades your home is usually either a fruit fly or fungus gnat.
Fruit flies are 2 to 4 millimeters long and a mixture of tan and brown.
Like their name implies, fruit flies are attracted to fruit. This can be ripe, overripe, or rotting fruit. They also seek out fermented drinks such as alcohol.
You might also find fruit flies in garbage disposals, where they seek organic material.
They might also be in drains, pools, trash cans, or other places where there is plenty of moisture.
The biggest issue with fruit flies is their speed of reproduction, which makes them tough to eradicate.
A single female fruit fly can lay about 500 eggs, which will hatch within a day or two of being deposited.
Multiply that by the number of females in your home, and you can see why this is such a problem.
Though they are generally nothing more than a nuisance, fruit flies have the potential to carry bacteria and other germs onto food.
Protect food by storing it in airtight containers (this set of 16 from Amazon is ideal for storing dry foods) or in the refrigerator.
Fungus gnats make their homes and lay eggs in soil, either outdoors or in indoor plants.
They typically hatch and reach adulthood in the summer months, producing several generations each season.
A fungus gnat larva is translucent with a black head and look like a small worm.
Larvae reach the next life phase by eating fungi, roots, and organic matter in the soil.
This makes them harmful to plants (especially seedlings and sensitive houseplants) if found in large groups.
Can they potentially kill the houseplants you try to take such good care of? You can find the answer here.
Once fungus gnats reach adulthood, they become much less of a problem and more of a nuisance.
Their biggest harm is in creating young gnats, instigating new life cycles.
The best way to prevent gnats from entering your home is to remove the things that attract them.
You can find a wealth of information on preventing gnat infestations in our gnat articles here, but for now the following guidelines will be enough to get you moving in the right direction.
- Do not store fruit or vegetables in the open air. Use airtight storage containers or place items in the refrigerator
- Quickly take out any garbage that contains any plant or organic material, such as fruit peels and cores, vegetables, meat, etc.
- Clean cat litter boxes often.
- Allow soil in potted plants to dry completely before watering again; only water when needed.
- Dry any areas of your home, like basements or crawl spaces for instance, that have standing water.
- Fix leaky pipes, bad roofs, or any other problem that brings excess water into your home.
- Use a dehumidifier (this one from Amazon removes up to 5 gallons of moisture from the air each day) to remove moisture from perpetually humid parts of your home.
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Gnat Traps and Sprays – What to Look For
You have a lot of options when it comes to effective traps and sprays for gnats. Knowing what to look for will help you select the best quality product for the job.
Types of Traps
There are three main types of gnat traps: sticky traps, UV light traps, and bug zappers.
Evaluate the benefits of each to figure out which is best for your situation.
The first and simplest version is a sticky trap. There are versions of sticky traps that work well for both fruit flies and fungus gnats.
This trap is normally yellow in order to attract gnats using their phototaxis (attraction to light).
Most versions are made with PVC or strong plastic material, making them firm and solid.
Some versions are made to stick into the dirt of potted plants (good for fungus gnats), while others hang in the air (good for fruit flies and other types of gnats).
Sticky traps meant to be stuck in potted plant soil are often shaped like butterflies, flowers, or suns for a nice aesthetic. Pick whichever version is best for your needs.
The trap is covered on both sides with a heavy-duty glue that immediately traps the gnats.
Look for a product that is water and UV resistant so that you can use them both indoors and outdoors.
UV Light Traps
The second type of gnat trap is an electric machine that uses UV light to attract the bugs.
These products work essentially the same way as the sticky traps. It has a sticky trap at the base onto which the gnats are drawn.
Some of these traps have gentle fans that suck the gnats into the mechanism.
Consider that you will need to replace the sticky paper in the device, so make sure the refills are reasonably priced.
These traps also need electricity, so keep your location in mind to be sure there is a way to get power to the trap.
Most of them work best in complete darkness so that the bugs are attracted to only the machine’s light. Thus, don’t assume that it will immediately take care of your gnat problem.
The most heavy-duty type of product on this list is a bug zapper. These devices use electricity to kill gnats on contact.
Similarly to UV light traps, these zappers use a UV lamp to attract the bugs to the electricity. This means that they need electric power.
Some zappers are noisy, emitting a popping noise each time a bug activates the electricity.
Also keep an eye on whether or not the killed bugs produce a burning smell or smoke. The best zappers are silent, with no smoke or smell.
Though most zappers have a grate to protect the electrical components, this is still not the safest way to get rid of gnats. Keep them out of the reach of children and pets.
Types of Sprays
If your best efforts at nonpesticide solutions have failed, you might think about using a spray for gnats.
There are several types of gnat spray focusing on different emphases with different potencies and uses.
A perimeter spray is designed to be applied around the edge of a room, house, or property.
It is a residual pesticide that retains its potency for months when applied correctly.
Because it eliminates gnats as they cross the perimeter, a perimeter spray will not get rid of gnat larvae.
With gnats, a perimeter spray is rarely necessary unless it is a massive infestation.
Typically, you can isolate the issue to a specific location: the garbage, potted plants, standing water, etc.
If you have a large-scale problem, however, give a perimeter spray a shot!
These types of sprays are applied directly to the gnat problem, specifically a cloud of gnats.
You can also apply it anywhere you would like gnats to avoid, like cat litter boxes, garbage cans, or humid basements.
Contact sprays and plant sprays are helpful because they can be applied to places where gnat larvae might exist and will kill them before they hatch.
This helps prevent outbreaks before they start.
These sprays are specially formulated to kill bugs on plants. They are safe for leaves, fruit, and vegetables and kill on contact.
Because they are designed to protect plants, sometimes plant sprays are not as potent as other types of pesticides.
In addition to gnats, most plant sprays work against any type of bug that is attracted to plants.
They will also kill fungus gnat larvae that may lurk in the soil of potted plants.
Like classic bug spray, gnat repellent is sprayed directly on the body and clothes to deter gnats.
This is useful for anyone spending lots of time outdoors or working near dead or decaying organic material.
While some people don’t mind using repellents that contain DEET, others would rather avoid the chemical if possible.
This repellent on Amazon is 100% DEET free, is made with essential oils, and repels for up top two hours.
Best Gnat Traps
After reviewing many available options, we selected the following to be the best traps for gnat elimination.
These simple, easy-to-use sticky traps are perfect for indoor or outdoor potted plants.
They come in butterfly and sunflower shapes and are bright yellow colored, appealing to gnats’ phototaxis.
- The simplest way to trap and kill gnats around plants.
- Doesn’t require electricity.
- Cheapest, most efficient method.
- Sun and water resistant.
- Only designed for soil.
These sticky traps are similar to the XQ-HD brand traps but are designed to be staked into the ground or hung from a lanyard. This gives you more flexibility as far as location.
- Rain proof, so good for use indoors and outdoors.
- Come with stakes so you can place them in potted plants or gardens.
- Have built-in holes at the top so you can hang from the ceiling, cabinets, or nails outdoors.
- Not as sticky as some other products.
Katchy makes one of the best-selling UV light gnat traps on the market. This is a great electrical, zap-free device that is safe for anywhere around the house.
- Combination of light and fan sucks the bug in.
- Gnat carcasses are hidden in the bottom of the canister, not out in the open.
- Is noiseless and odorless.
- Safe for homes with kids and pets.
- Needs refills of sticky paper.
- The only way to attract gnats and bugs is by the UV light, so it is only efficient at night.
This UV light trap is built to look like a wall sconce that hangs attractively in your home, restaurant, office, or garage.
It boasts more light power than most other UV light traps and uses a super sticky board at the bottom to catch gnats.
- Uses a reflective material inside the device to triple the amount of power from the light.
- Style fits in with many decors; soft blue light is inoffensive.
- Traps gnats and flies on a sticky board – no noises or messy carcasses.
- Somewhat permanent – difficult to switch locations after it has been set up.
- Power cord is in an awkward place and must be considered when choosing a location for the light.
- Does not have a fan to suck gnats and bugs in, relying solely on the attraction of the light.
This bug zapper uses a UV light to lure gnats and bugs to the metal grill, killing them on contact. It is advertised as making no sound, smell, or smoke.
According to your needs, this zapper may stand on a sturdy surface or be hung from a ceiling or wall.
- Removable tray to easily get rid of dead bugs.
- May be used inside or outdoors.
- Comes with a chain for hanging or will stand on its own.
- Mesh outer cover with 5 millimeter gaps is too tight for human fingers.
- Dead bugs are stored in a visible tray – not ideal for some spaces.
- Zapped bugs occasionally miss the tray and fall to the ground.
Best Gnat Sprays
If you’d rather not use traps and deal with dead little bodies piling up, sprays can be an effective option.
Here are the best sprays to use in your fight against gnats.
This natural pest repellent by MDX Concepts is designed to be used around the outer perimeter of your home and promises protection for up to 7,000 square feet.
It won’t kill grass or plants and will not harm pets or children.
- All-natural, organic ingredients mean it is safe for the environment.
- Fights many types of bugs and pests.
- Attaches directly to a hose, so no measuring necessary.
- Only guaranteed to last for a month, which is a relatively short amount of time.
- Not designed to be used inside.
This outdoor spray utilizes permethrin to kill not only gnats but mosquitoes, ants, ticks, fleas, and other insects as well.
When used according to the directions, it should keep working for up to four weeks.
- Pet and children safe when applied correctly.
- Hose end sprayer.
- Takes longer than some other products to be effective.
Zevo is a bio-selective spray, meaning it is made specifically to kill only gnats, moths, flies, fruit flies, and other flying insects.
This means that it is pet and family safe and does not contain any harmful chemicals.
- No harsh chemicals.
- Safe for use in kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom.
- Will kill gnat larvae, preventing a gnat infestation from growing out of control.
- Not as strong as some other sprays.
- Has an oily texture and a citronella-like scent.
This product uses botanical insecticides to kill plant-based bugs on contact yet doesn’t harm the plant. In fact, you can spray this on edible plants without harming the fruit or vegetable.
- Household safe.
- Can be sprayed on edible plants until day of harvest.
- Made for indoor and outdoor use.
- Not rain or water resistant, so timing is important.
Off! is a classic brand name because of its consistency and performance.
Deep Woods won’t just protect you from gnats, but will also keep flies, mosquitoes, and other bugs off of you.
- Up to eight hours of protection from all types of pests.
- Aerosol spray makes application simple.
- Not waterproof.
- Will not protect your home from gnats, just your person.
The term gnat is a broad, nonspecific term that encapsulates a variety of weak, flying insects.
Generally, gnats are nothing more than an unattractive nuisance, but in large numbers (called clouds) they can harm plants and crops.
Gnats in your home are typically either fruit flies or fungus gnats. These two species are attracted to different things and should be treated differently.
Fruit flies are attracted mainly to fruit or other organic matter. You might find them on ripe or rotting fruit, in garbage disposals, or trash cans.
Look for UV light taps, bug zappers, or perimeter sprays to eliminate fruit flies.
Fungus gnats are attracted to moisture and feed on organic matter in soil, producing larvae quickly.
You can find them in or around potted plants or gardens looking for fungus or roots to feed on.
Look for sticky traps that stake into the soil, contact spray, or plant spray to eliminate fungus gnats.
Hopefully, you found a product that is right for your situation and that you feel comfortable using.
Be sure to read the rest of our gnat-based articles for more information on preventing infestations and eliminating these pesky bugs from your home and yard.