Fruit flies, gnats, it doesn’t matter what name you call them, these tiny flying insects are a huge pain when you are dealing with a gnat infestation. When you are dealing with a gnat problem, the last thing you probably want to do is get up close and personal with pests.
However, if you don’t feel like sharing your home with a bunch of gnats and fruit flies, you might just need to get close to determine which homemade gnat trap will work best. Many of the same techniques for exterminating these flying bugs will work for both types of species, some will work better than others for each kind.
Before you can start to deal with the gnat problem in your home, you first have to understand the differences between gnats & fruit flies, so you’ll know which DIY traps for gnats will work best.
The Difference Between Gnats and Fruit Flies
Despite what you may believe, gnats & fruit flies are not the same. However, it is easy to understand why the two are often confused. Both of these flying bugs are so small, that it can be challenging to tell the difference between the two without breaking out the magnifying glass.
Although both insects are tiny, fruit flies are a bit bigger than gnats. The most common kind of fruit fly, the one that is most commonly found flying around your kitchen counter, is about one-eighth of an inch in size and has red eyes, and a brown-colored head with a black tail. While fungus gnats are entirely black and are just one-sixteenth of an inch in length.
They also have a slightly different life cycle. While the life cycle of a gnat typically only lasts four weeks, fruit flies typically live for 30 days and can survive up to three months if the conditions are right.
The Cause of Gnats and Fruit Flies
Scents are a big reason why gnats and fruit flies find their way into your home. Your body lotion, perfume, and even the laundry detergent that you use can attract gnats and lead to a gnat infestation.
Depending on the type of gnat you are dealing with, they are attracted to sweet and floral smells. Fungus gnats find their way into your home because of the fungus that grows on decaying organic matter, like overwatered house plants, dirty dishes, compost piles, and trash cans.
If you have gnats hanging around outdoors, there is something in your yard that is attracting them. This could be your vegetable garden, a fruit tree, or even the flowers in your garden. If you tend to overwater your lawn or flowers, fungus and mold will start to form creating the perfect breeding ground for these pesky insects.
Fruit flies are attracted to the overripe fruit that you may have sitting in the kitchen. Every fruit fly has an impeccable sense of smell and can smell the fruit on your kitchen counter from a good distance away, and when they catch onto the smell, they will do everything in their power to get into your home.
Fruit flies can make their way into your home through the small holes in your window screens, through the cracks and crevices along your windows and doors, and as soon as you open your door and step outside. They can also come in on the fruit an vegetables that you bring home from the store.
How to Get Rid of Gnats Naturally
Now that you know the difference between the various house flies that could be invading your home, and know how they are able to get indoors, you are probably wondering how to repel gnats that are making themselves a nuisance in your home.
Luckily, with just a few simple ingredients from your kitchen, and homemade remedies using essential oils, you can make a homemade gnat trap and catch bugs in the kitchen.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Homemade Gnat Trap
This DIY fly trap is cheap and simple to make yourself, and it will take care of adult gnats quickly. This vinegar trap is an effective way to deal with your fly problem and uses things that you probably already have in your home.
Add the vinegar, water, sugar, and dish soap to the mason jar. Cover the opening with plastic wrap and secure it with the rubber band. Using the toothpick, pole several small holes in the saran wrap. The apple cider and sugar make an excellent fruit fly lure.
They will approach the sweet-sour surface of the water. When they try to sit on the surface of the solution, they will drown because the liquid dish soap reduces the surface tension of the liquid, causing the soap to cling to their wings and feet, rendering them unable to fly, leaving them to drown in the liquid.
2. Red Wine Fruit Fly Trap
Like the apple cider vinegar, gnats and fruit flies are attracted to the sweet smell of red wine. You can fill a plastic bottle or other containers halfway with red wine, and place a paper cone down the bottle of the neck and leave it in an area where fruit flies are gathering for a homemade gnat trap.
If you add a few drops of dish soap to the mix, like with the vinegar trap, the fruit flies will become covered in the dish soap and won’t be able to fly out of the fruit fly trap, leaving them to drown.
3. Sticky Honey Trap
Another homemade fly catcher that will catch and kill gnats and fruit flies is a homemade honey sticky trap. For this fly trap, you’ll need to gather some colored paper, a few sticks or popsicle sticks, and some honey.
Start by cutting strips out of the colored paper. Then use some glue to attach them to the sticks. Smear some honey on the front side of each trap and stick them in the soil of your potted plants, or lay them around your home where you have a problem with gnats.
The honey, along with the vivid colors, will attract the gnats to the traps where they will become stuck to the honey.
4. Overripe Banana Gnat Trap
If you only want to trap the gnats and not kill them, a banana trap is inexpensive gnat control solution that will get rid of gnats in your house without killing them. Place an overripe banana in a small bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Use a toothpick to make several small holes in the plastic wrap to allow the fruit flies to enter the bowl. Once the fruit flies enter the bowl to get to the banana, they won’t be able to get back out. When enough of the bugs get trapped in the container, you can take the bowl outside and unwrap it to let the fruit flies out.
5. Cinnamon Powder to Kill Fruit Flies and Gnats
One of the most effective home remedies for killing gnats and fruit flies is cinnamon powder. Along with its antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties, the cinnamon powder also contains insecticide properties.
You can sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top of the soil that is infested with fungus gnats for an all-natural way to get rid of fruit flies and gnats.
6. Insecticidal Soap for Fungus Gnats
Another way you can get rid of fungus gnats is with insecticidal soap. You can purchase a commercial-grade product at most garden and home improvement stores. However, you can also make your own:
In a spray bottle mix the castile soap and the water. Every day, spray the solution on the soil of your potted plants. While this homemade insecticidal fungus gnats spray doesn’t contain insecticides that you might be familiar with, it will still kill the gnats on your plants without damaging them.
It is important that you use castile soap in this formula rather than dish soap because the fatty acids that are in the castile soap work to dissolve the bugs, making it extremely effective and safer for the environment and your family.
This homemade insecticidal soap spray will also kill other pests that you may be having an issue with, like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and more.
7. Ammonia to Get Rid of Drain Flies
Drain flies are those annoying pests that hang out in your sink drain and feed of the decaying organic material that is built-up in your pipes. You can pour a small amount of ammonia down your drains to kill any drain gnats that might be living in there.
It is important that when using ammonia to kill drain flies that you allow it to sit for several hours and dilute before you use your sink again.
8. Kill Drain Flies with Baking Soda and Vinegar
If you are uneasy about using a harsh chemical like ammonia to kill drain flies, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda will also do the trick. Start by pouring some baking soda into the drain. Then pour a cup of vinegar down.
The vinegar will react with the baking soda, resulting in some fizzing and bubbles. Allow the mixture to stand for a few hours, then pour some boiling water down the drain to flush out the dead gnats.
9. Bleach for Killing Drain Flies
For gnats in the bathroom or kitchen, and you only have bleach on hand or want to use a stronger method to eliminate your drain fly problem, you can use bleach as an alternative method.
Create a solution of one part bleach and ten parts water and pour it down the drain. Allow the solution to sit for several hours, then flush out the pipes with cold water.
10. Essential Oils for Gnats
For decades, essential oils have been used to repel a variety of insects. At the first sign of an indoor gnat problem, add an essential oil that has proven to be effective for repelling gnats and fruit flies into your home diffuser.
When you are heading outside, you can combine any of the essential oils with a carrier oil, like coconut or olive, and rub lotion onto your skin to help keep gnats from flying around your face.
Making a DIY anti-gnat spray is also an extremely effective form of pest control that is easy and inexpensive to make.
11. Essential Oil Anti-Gnat Spray
Using the above mentioned essential oils in a homemade gnat spray will quickly kill the gnats that you find flying around your home.
It uses simple and non-toxic ingredients making it safe to use around your pets and family, unlike the commercial insect repellents that contain the harmful chemical DEET.
Add the ingredients to a spray bottle. Replace the lid and shake until the ingredients are combined. Spray directly on the gnats as you find them.
12. Citronella Oil Candles for Gnats
One of the best fruit fly repellent candles that you can buy is the citronella candle. Along with mosquitoes and other insects, fruit flies and gnats can’t stand the smell that the candles emit.
To keep fruit flies out of your house and away from you when you are outside, light a citronella candle and leave it near your doors. When you open your door to head outside, the aroma will stop these tiny pests from getting into your house.
13. Repel Gnats with a Lemon Pot
If you want to get rid of fungus gnats, you can rub some lemon or lemongrass essential oil on the edge of your potted plants. Gnats can’t stand citrus smells and will quickly flee the area.
Not only is this a great gnat repellent but it will also make your house smell divine and help to uplift your mood, provide your immune system with a boost and help to improve your focus and concentration.
14. Neem Oil for Fungus Gnats
Neem oil is a natural insecticide that works to inhibit the gnats’ reproductive system, as well as the growth of the larvae, plus it is safe to use on plants.
To use Neem oil to get rid of fungus gnats, mix one cup of water with ten drops of neem oil and spray the soil of all your indoor plants that are being affected by gnats.
15. Get Rid of Gnats with Diatomaceous Earth
Sprinkling diatomaceous earth (DE) on the top of the soil of your potted plants will eliminate your fungus gnat problem. Diatomaceous earth is composed of the siliceous fossils of diatoms.
When the larvae crawl over the DE, it removes the waxes from the body of the insect and absorbs the oils and waxes on the outer cuticle of the gnat. It will also kill them through desiccation, which causes the insects to lose water and eventually die from dehydration.
16. Gnats and Flies hate Vanilla Scent
Vanilla is another scent that gnats can’t stand to be around. This makes vanilla another great gnat repellent. Not only is this an inexpensive solution to your gnat problem, but you probably already have this ingredient in your home.
All you need to do is fill a spray bottle with a mixture of water and vanilla extract and spray any area where you have a gnat infestation.
17. Baking Soda and Liquid Soap
Baking soda is a Goliath when it comes to its endless uses. Along with being used to prepare foods and cleaning around the house, it can even be a great homemade gnat trap.
The best part is that it is non-toxic, making it a safe alternative to many of the insect repellents on the market today.
Add the baking soda and dish soap to the water and stir to ensure it is thoroughly combined. Add the liquid solution to a spray bottle, and spray the affected areas to effectively kill the gnat infestation.
18. Simple Yeast Gnats Trap
Gnats are attracted to the smell of yeast. To effectively get rid of the gnats in your house, you can add some yeast and a small amount of sugar to a bowl, and then add some water to create a gnat killing solution.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke small holes in the surface. The gnats will enter the holes to get to the yeast and won’t be able to get back out again.
19. Water and Rubbing Alcohol Gnats Infestation Spray
Mix some rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture directly on the areas that have been infested with gnats. The strong scent from the alcohol will repel them, and if it comes in contact with them, it will kill them on contact.
Be careful not to spray this solution directly on your plants until you have tested it on some leaves first to ensure it won’t damage them.
20. Lavender Oil Soaked Repelling Balls
Lavender is a scent that most humans enjoy, but gnats and other insects can’t stand it. You can use lavender oil to rid your home of gnats while keeping it smelling fresh and floral.
Soak a few cotton balls in the lavender oil and place them in high traffic areas. You can also grow a lavender plant to prevent more gnats from coming into your home.
21. Killing Gnats with Garlic
The overwhelming, pungent smell of garlic is intolerable for many pests and insects, including gnats and fruit flies.
To kill gnats with garlic, you can soak a few cloves in paraffin or mineral oil for 24 hours and then strain the oil into a spray bottle. Add a teaspoon of liquid soap and spray any gnat infested areas of your home.
22. Sweet Milk and Pepper DIY Traps for Gnats
One of the oldest recipes from the Farmer’s Almanac is an extremely effective way to trap gnats that are found outside.
Combine the ingredients in a pan and allow to simmer for ten minutes. Pour the mixture into several water bottles or small dishes and place them around your house.
The fruit flies and gnats will be attracted to the mixture and will drown immediately after landing in the liquid.
23. Eliminate Gnats with Tobacco
If you want to eliminate the gnat problem in your garden, you can cover the top layer of soil with tobacco. Break three to four cigarettes open and use the tobacco to create a thin barrier over the soil. The fungus gnats don’t like the smell of the tobacco, so they will avoid laying their eggs in your garden’s soil.
24. Pour Olive Oil Down the Sink
If you have drain gnats in your kitchen or bathroom, you can pour some olive or vegetable oil down the drain to effectively kill the adult flies and larvae. The oil covers that gnats and makes them immobile, making it difficult for them to feed on the food sources they thrive on. You may need to repeat this process several times to kill all the gnats, but it is an extremely effective solution to a drain fly problem.
25. Hydrogen Peroxide and Water
When they come into contact with hydrogen peroxide, fungus gnats and fruit flies will die on contact. While hydrogen peroxide is extremely deadly for gnats, it is safe to use on your plants.
Mix the ingredients and water your plants as usual. The solution will kill the gnat larvae and eggs but won’t damage your plants as long as you don’t increase the concentration.
26. Create a Physical Barrier with Gnatnix
Gnatnix has been scientifically proven to be extremely effective in creating a physical barrier between gnats and topsoil. The product is made out of 100 percent recycled glass and is a non-toxic alternative to other products.
When sprinkled on the topsoil it helps to prevent the gnat eggs from hatching, hinders the growth of larvae, and deters the female gnats from laying their eggs in the soil.
27. Flypaper the Perfect Fly Trap
You would generally use commercial flypaper to trap houseflies, but it can also be extremely effective in trapping gnats. Hang strips of the flypaper up in your home where you are having a problem with gnats.
The gnats will fly into the strips and become trapped on the sticky surface of the paper. You can also make your own flypaper with a few simple ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, stirring well to combine. Cut the paper into thick strips and coat it with the paste.
Hang the strips of paper around the house, especially near windows and plants. The gnats will be attracted to the sweet paste and fly into the paper, becoming trapped.
28. Insect Foggers
Commercial insect foggers are probably the best solution for eliminating a gnat infestation. They work by producing a dense fog that permeates cracks, foliage, and other gnat hiding places, to effectively kill the gnats.
These types of foggers will also work on flies, moths, and mosquitoes.
29. Beneficial Nematodes
Placing beneficial nematodes in the soil of your potted plants will help to eliminate gnats from your home.
These microscopic roundworms act as parasites that penetrate the gnat larvae and release bacteria inside that consumes them from the inside out.
30. Non DEET Commercial Repellent Spray
You can now purchase Non-DEET repellent sprays that are made entirely out of natural ingredients. It is safe to use on your kids and around your pets and won’t cause any rashes or itching.
It is effective in repelling mosquitoes, gnats, chiggers, ticks, fire ants, sand flies, and fleas.
31. DEET Insect Repellent
Commercial DEET insect repellents are really the most effective way to get rid of gnats. However, they can also be extremely dangerous and cause numerous health problems if used in high concentrations for long periods.
Nevertheless, if you are still having problems getting rid of gnats, you can use DEET insect repellents to protect you and your family from many different insects.
Gnats and fruit flies are common pests that you will find in your home, especially in the summer. As hard as you try to avoid them, you will probably have to deal with them several times a year. With the homemade gnat traps and techniques for killing fruit flies, you can tackle the problem without having to call in the exterminator.
We hope you enjoyed learning about homemade gnat traps and how to effectively kill fruit flies. If you found the information in this article useful, please don’t hesitate to share these gnat and fly tips with your family and friends.