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How to get rid of those pesky gnats and fruit flies

Sometimes you'll catch these pesky pests in poorly cleaned drains, trashcans or moist places containing decomposing organic matter.

AUSTIN, Texas — As the weather heats up, you may start to see those pesky gnats, fruit flies or whatever you choose to call them.

According to pest control company, Orkin, the word "gnat" refers to any small, winged insect and the most common gnats in homes are fruit flies or fungus gnats. 

Where do they come from? Well, Orkin says fruit flies can enter homes through open doors and screens, or as eggs and larvae on produce. Once inside, they eat and develop in over-ripened fruits and vegetables. Sometimes you'll catch them in poorly cleaned drains, trashcans or moist places containing decomposing organic matter. 

What kind of pest is it?

There are three common kinds of gnats: fruit flies, drain flies and fungus gnats. Each one looks different from the other and can be found in different places. Fruit flies are brown with red eyes, and typically more round in shape. They're typically found in the kitchen. Drain flies are fuzzy with moth-like wings. They typically congregate around drains. And fungus gnats are black with long legs. They're typically found near potted plants. 

How do I prevent and get rid of gnats?

Dealing with these little buggers can be frustrating, so we're here to help you get rid of them. Here are some of the most common tips for getting rid of gnats: 

  • The first step (hopefully) can start with prevention. Orkin advises make sure there are proper exclusion methods such as effective screening to keep them out of the home to begin with; store fruit produce in a manner that makes it unlikely that flies will infest foods, and keep products in the fridge and inside sealed containers; and keep all food containers, sink drains and trashcans clean.
  • If you're already stuck with them, some of the common ways to get rid of a gnat infestation are: 
    • Yellow sticky traps: glue-coated, adhesive paper that attracts gnats with their bright color and then traps them as they land
    • Fruit traps: Some homeowners use a jar of rotting fruit covered with perforated plastic wrap to lure and then trap gnats.
    • Vinegar or red wine traps: Similar to a fruit trap, this option uses the gnats' attraction to these pungent liquids to trap them inside a jar.
    • Apple cider vinegar: In a small bowl, mix a half cup of warm water plus two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar and about six drops of liquid dish soap. Gnats will be lured in by the sugary mixture, but once they dip in for a drink, the sticky dish soap will trap them. Simply place the bowl with the solution in the areas where you've noticed the most gnats, and wait. 
  • Eliminate their food source: they won't stick around if they don't have anything to feast on. For the time being, put produce in the fridge or inside bins as much as possible. You should also rinse fruits and vegetables as soon as you get home from the store.
  • Call an exterminator: If things get really bad, or if you just don't feel like putting forth the effort on these home remedies, call a professional.

What about outdoor gnats?

For these pests, Orkin recommends installing low-voltage, low-light bulbs for your porch. Also, installing a fan may help keep the bugs away.

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