Gnats are common flying household pests. A catch-all term that covers all manner of small, flying insects such as midges, small flies and mosquitos, gnats are irritation and unsanitary pests that can be very difficult to get rid of.
There are many different factors that cause a gnat infestation, including but not limited to:
- Decaying or overripe fruit
- Forgotten potatoes or onions
- Potted plants with decaying vegetable matter or unhealthy soil
- Kitchen or laundry leaks that cause standing water
- Unwashed dishes and poor sanitary conditions
- Excessively watered potted indoor plants
Removing gnats from the home once they’ve taken up residence traditionally requires the use of powerful chemicals or aerosol sprays that can have a serious negative effect on the long term health of your family and pets.
Diatomaceous earth provides a natural, organic alternative to these sprays, destroying a gnat menace quickly and efficiently without toxins or poisons. In this article we’ll outline the most common causes of gnat infestation and how to deal with them.
Potted & Indoor Plants
Poorly kept indoor plants are the most common cause of gnat infestation. Many of the potted indoor plants that are purchased from garden stores or groceries are infested with gnat eggs.
These plants contain eggs buried in the soil when purchased, which hatch once the plant has been brought home and watered. The soil that these plants are potted in contains vegetable matter that decays, leading to the development of fungal growth that the larval stage of gnats feed on.
The best way to prevent gnats from entering your home via potted plants is to re-pot the plant before bringing it into your home. After purchasing an indoor plant, remove it from the pot outside of your home and brush away as much of the existing soil as you can from the roots.
Fill a new pot with fresh, healthy soil mixed with a scoop of diatomaceous earth to prevent the development of gnat eggs. It’s possible to use the same pot the plant was purchased in, but be sure to wash it out with warm soapy water during the repotting process.
Overwatering indoor plants also contributes to gnat infestations. Most indoor potted plants require watering only once per week. Watering an indoor potted plant more than this will cause water to build up in the soil, creating an environment that will attract gnats.
Draining your plants regularly and minimizing watering cycles will reduce the amount of gnats in your home. An easy way to tell whether your plants need watering is to insert your index finger into the soil. If the soil is dry up to your first knuckle, your plant probably needs watering.
Diatomaceous earth is an effective tool for preventing gnats from colonizing your potted plants. Lightly dusting both the topsoil and the plant itself regularly will form a protective layer that will destroy any gnats or larvae that attempt to breed in it.
Once a week, after watering your plants, add a fine layer of diatomaceous earth, as well as mixing a small amount into the soil.
Overripe Fruit & Unattended Garbage
Fruit that has been left for long enough to become excessively ripe is another popular breeding ground for household gnats.
Decaying vegetable or fruit matter is a highly attractive source of nutrition for small flying insects, so if you’re experiencing a gnat infestation, throw away all of the fruit in your home.
Any new fruit purchased should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent further infestation.
Once you’ve placed overripe fruit in the trash, be sure to take it as far away from the house as possible. Unattended trash cans or garbage are the third most prevalent cause of gnat infestation.
An unwashed, full trash can will contain rotting food and vegetable matter that will attract gnats. Be sure to regularly wash your trashcan with warm soapy water and empty it as often as possible.
Dusting the inside of your trash can with diatomaceous earth can be a great way of keeping insect pests away from refuse.
Techniques For Keeping Your Home Gnat-Free
Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar are two highly effective tools for fighting a gnat infestation.
Fill a jar to the halfway point with vinegar and cover the top with plastic wrap, holding it in place with a rubber band. Poke holes in the plastic wrap lid with a toothpick. Gnats will be attracted by the scent of the vinegar and enter the jar via these holes, but will be unable to exit.
Place jars around your home in which you’ve observed gnat activity to trap them.
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