About Gnats

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Tiny bugs that you can't see before they are inches in front of you are called gnats. Gnats seem to find their way into your home and are attracted by rotting food and moisture. Some come into your home on fruit that you have purchased, others gnats come through openings in your house such as doors and cracks.

Misconceptions

  • Some might think that gnats are just one type of insect. That is not true. Several small flying insects qualify as gnats. Gnats are from the Diptera family, meaning two wing, and are a type of fly.

Risk Factors

  • Most gnats are more annoying than anything, but there are some types that bite, cause irritation, and spread disease. Gnats also multiply quickly, laying hundreds of eggs in a short amount of time. This can be unsanitary.

Benefits

  • Gnats can be beneficial to the environment. They help to pollinate some South American Orchids that produce tiny flowers. Fungus gnats, which are common in houses, decompose decaying organic matter in house plants.

Identification

  • Gnats are tiny flies that are barely noticeable until they begin to swarm. Male gnats tend to create large swarms at dusk. The swarm is called a ghost. If you ever walked into a swarm at night you know that you don't notice the swarm until you are in the middle of it.

Type

  • There are numerous types of gnats.

    Black flies are biting gnats that survive by sucking blood. The male species mostly eats nectar. They are very small and can be black or gray. They spread several diseases including river blindness in Africa and South and Central America.

    Eye gnats are small bugs that live off the eye fluid of animals where they can be found congregating. They are a nuisance and do not bite, but are known to cause mammary cancers and disease among cows in North America.

    Gall gnats, also called gall midges are tiny, fragile insects that are 3mm or smaller in length. They have hairy wings and long antennae. There are many species of this pest which are known to cause damage to wheat crops as the larvae feed on plants and cause abnormal plant growths called galls.

    Sand gnats, also called sand fleas, are biting, blood sucking gnats found in sandy areas. They are also called no-see-ums, chitras or punkies. The bites leave large red bumps and rashes.

    Dark-winged fungus gnats are found in moist environments and are a problem in mushroom farms and household plants.

    Midges are very tiny two-winged flying insects. Some midges bite and spread livestock disease, others do not bite. They live in water during the larval stage. The larvae are also called blood worms.

    Mosquitoes are also a type of gnat. Female mosquitoes suck blood from humans and animals and spread disease. They need the blood to develop eggs.

Expert Insight

  • To eliminate gnats from your home, remove the food source. Eliminate rotting food, put a layer of sand on top of your house plants and don't overwater them. Store food in the refrigerator or in plastic, tightly sealed containers. Keep the sink and garbage disposal clean.

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