What Is A Gnat?

What Is A Gnat?

You have probably noticed them circling above your head during a hot summer day or swarming a herd of unsuspecting farm animals. But what exactly are gnats and how does one get rid of them? It’s a question that has plagued anyone who has ever had to deal with these pests, which seem to come out of nowhere.

In a nutshell, gnats are tiny flies that tend to fly in large numbers and are attracted to moisture and any organic material nearby. Unfortunately, they’re not the easiest to get rid of. And, to top it all off, they can be extremely annoying to those unlucky enough to find themselves near a large group of them.

Different Types Of Gnats

It may come as a surprise to many, but there are 8 different types of gnats. Despite being small, gnats aren’t entirely harmless as they have the potential to carry and spread diseases. In order to get rid of them, it’s important to understand what type of gnat you’re dealing with.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats, also known as the common house gnat, tend to be gray to black and about 1/16 of an inch in size. These are the type of gnats that you see hovering around a fruit bowl that’s been sitting for too long. Fungus gnats love the fungi and roots of plants, hence their name.

Fungus gnats like warmer climates and can live up to a month, particularly inside of a home as they are drawn to the warmth of it. This type of gnat can reproduce in just 3 days. Therefore, it’s important to get the situation under control as quickly as possible.

In order to keep fungus gnats out of your home, be sure to clean out your fridge on a regular basis. Make sure to toss or compost any rotting fruits and vegetables.

Drain Flies

Drain flies tend to be a little bit bigger than fungus gnats and are typically found in areas where drains or sewers are present. People often notice this type of gnat whenever they have plumbing issues. This is because drain flies live in plumbing and may oftentimes end up clogging up the pipes. Be sure to check that your plumbing is running smoothly in order to keep these gnats away.


Midges are another type of gnat that like to live in wet and swampy areas. Unlike the previously mentioned gnats, midges can bite humans. Aside from blood, midges survive off of nectar or any other source of sugar that they can find. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent these, aside from using a bug spray.

gnats bite
Midge Gnat

Sand Flies

Sand flies tend to grow to be about 1/8 inch in size. Like midges, sand flies feed on blood and other sugary substances. They tend to live in wet areas, especially locations where it’s very humid. Sand flies can be harmful to humans because of the fact that they feed on blood.

In extreme circumstances, those who have been bitten by a sand fly may end up experiencing a high fever. They can also notice a bumpy red rash in the area in which they were bitten. Be sure to seek treatment if you begin to experience any of these symptoms.

Gnat Bugs

Gnat bugs are also known as unique-headed bugs and can grow to be around 4 mm long. Unlike other types of gnats, these like to live in forests, particularly under old logs and rocks. They are known for their long heads, which is the reason for their name.

Buffalo Gnats

Buffalo gnats tend to make their presence around late spring or the beginning of summer. Interestingly enough, the males survive on nectar while females survive on the blood of animals. You can expect to find these types of gnats around when exercising or doing any activity that involves you perspiring.

Buffalo gnats are attracted to sweat and carbon dioxide. They aren’t fans of extremely hot weather and tend to die off or disappear during the mid-summer months.

Gall Gnats

Gall gnats are another type of gnat that reproduce by injecting their eggs into the plants they feed off of. Although beneficial for the gnats, it tends to kill off the plants that they inhabit. The good news is that they do not bite humans.

A Hessian fly is a farmer’s worst nightmare. They destroy millions of dollars worth of wheat crops because it’s where they live to take up residence.

Eye Gnats

Eye gnats are the last type of gnat and are especially annoying because of their tendency to cluster around nasal cavities, mouth and eyes. Because of this, they can be dangerous and can transmit a variety of illnesses, particularly pinkeye.

Are Gnats Dangerous?

As mentioned earlier, gnats don’t necessarily pose an extreme danger to humans. However, those who are prone to getting sick may want to stay away from certain types of gnats as they can transmit infections.

If anything, gnats are most dangerous to your plants as they tend to inhabit them or rely on them for food. In turn, they kill them off.

How Do I Get Rid of Gnats?

Avoid Old Food

The easiest way to get rid of gnats is to call a pest control service. However, there are certain things that you can do to prevent them from infesting your home. The most important thing to do is to make sure that you are throwing away old food, as this is what will start to attract gnats in the first place.

gnats old food

Avoid Overwatering

Many types of gnats are also attracted to water so you may want to refrain from overwatering your house plants as this will certainly attract more gnats. This will also help decrease the survival rate of any eggs that may have been laid on top.

Buy A Gnat Trap

You can also purchase a gnat trap. There are loads of products to choose from. However, we’d advise you to get one of those highly efficient gnat catchers. Not only does it do the trick, it’s even pretty “decorative” compared to similar gear.

How Can I Treat A Gnat Bite?

Gnat bites can be incredibly uncomfortable and cause a significant amount of irritation on your skin. Oftentimes, their bites can even cause an allergic reaction that leads to a bumpy rash. In worst case scenarios, gnat bites may blister or even bleed.

Just like mosquito bites, symptoms differ among people. You can read more about this topic in our article “Why are mosquito bites so big“.

In order to avoid the bite from becoming that serious, be sure to treat it as soon as possible. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you wash the bite with soap and water. Afterwards, be sure to apply a compress to help reduce the swelling in the area. An ice pack or a bag of ice should do the trick.

If your gnat bite is particularly itchy, you may want to try using an anti-itch cream to relieve some of the discomfort. People who are suffering from an allergic reaction to the gnat bite may also want to take an antihistamine.

Lastly, keep an eye on the bite to make sure it doesn’t get worse. If you begin to exhibit symptoms of a fever or any other kind of pain in the area where you were bitten, seek medical attention.


A gnat is a tiny fly, usually part of a bigger group, and often found near organic material and moisture. You’ll find them swarming around old food or overwatered plants. More information can be found in our article “What attracts gnats?“.

Some gnat types bite humans, but not all of them do. There are different ways to get rid of them. Prevention seems to be the most important. If you need to get rid of them quickly, a gnat trap could be your best solution.

If you’re interested in alternative ways to get rid of these pests, go ahead and read our article about how to get rid of gnats with white vinegar.

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