The Gnat

Gnats are tiny flies that belong to the order Diptera. Many species of flies come under the category of a gnat – however, it is not a strictly scientific category. However, across the world, the term ‘gnat’ is used to denote tiny, pesky insects that often fly around the face and bother humans. Gnats usually tend to fly in groups known as a ‘cloud’ and are attracted to places having high moisture levels. Gnats are a nuisance worldwide, and pretty much every household has encountered gnats.


Gnats are usually slender, long-legged insects with transparent wings. Since there are many species in this category, many have differences in appearances. The black fungus gnat is completely black in color. Biting gnats are more rounded and brownish in color with black spots. There are several other gnats as well can invade your household. All of them are six-legged insects.

Appearance, Behavior, and Signs


Gnat. By EBKauai – , CC BY 2.0, 

These thin, dark insects are attracted to moisture and decay. Most species of gnat do not bite. They can seek out moisture decayed areas (such as wet walls and floors), decomposing garbage, rotting or overripe fruits and drainage lines. Some gnats even settle themselves in the soil of potted plants. Fungus gnats can cause damage to indoor plants. A few gnat species prefer to feed on blood as well. Gnats and fruit flies are not strictly the same, even though the latter is often associated to the former. They fly very slowly and are often weak in this area of locomotion.

Gnats are seldom alone in their venture for food – they move together in a group called a ‘cloud’. They do not directly harm humans in any way but can contaminate food items if they settle on food after coming from an unsanitary location. Some gnats, however, have been known to transmit dangerous diseases.


Moisture and organic matter is what attracts gnats. If you have moisture decay in your house, chances are that there definitely will be an invasion by gnats. Leaving food and garbage lying around can also attract gnats. Unsanitary environment and out-in-the-open food items are the most common reasons why gnats enter your homes.


Prevention is always better, especially when it comes to pests. Keep your house clean, especially your kitchen and washroom. Water indoor plants only as often as strictly necessary, to avoid gnats from settling in on the overly wet soil. Keep all items tightly packed or stored in the refrigerator (especially fruits). Clear out the trash regularly, and clean the dustbins. Repair any moisture damaged area in your house, and fix all the leaky pipes. Don’t leave spills around, and keep an eye out for any water getting stagnant in and around the house. Gnats will not trouble you if there is no food source for them.

A vacuum cleaner can be used to eliminate adult gnats. Clean the vacuum bag thoroughly after doing so. You can use fly traps to catch gnats as well. However, if there is a full-blown infestation present in your house, it is advisable to reach out to a professional pest control service.

Gnat Facts

  • Gnats fly around the face because they are attracted to carbon dioxide and the smell of salt and moisture (which comes from sweat)
  • Nowadays, fruit flies are also considered as gnats
  • Male gnats assemble in mating swarms known as ‘ghosts’
  • There are aquatic species of gnats as well
  • There are gnats that are attracted to eyes, known as eye gnats

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