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Fruit Flies Vs Gnats: 4 Ways to Kill Gnats & 3 Ways to Kill Fruit Flies

September 4, 2016
Close up of a fruit fly.

You’re seeing a small bug, or several small flying bugs, concentrated around the fruit in your home. Bananas are a common delicacy that will attract fruit flies. And while you’re sure you have a fruit fly problem, you’re also wondering if these flying pests may be gnats.

We’re going to compare fruit flies vs gnats, so you can easily tell which bug is invading your space.

Fruit Flies Vs GnatsClose up macro of small sand fly gnat on green leaf.

People have confused fruit flies and gnats for so long that some people question are fruit flies and gnats the same thing?

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These little fliers are similar in the fact that they’re small and fly, but they come from different families of insects.

A fruit fly is from the Drosophilidae family, and gnats are in three different families: sciaridae, mycetophilidae and anisopodidae. These are just the three main families that gnats may belong to – there are many species.

What Does a Gnat Look Like?

A quick glance at pictures of gnats will help you differentiate a gnat from a fruit fly. The main characteristics of a gnat are:

  • Glossy and black (eye gnat)
  • Deep gray or black (fungus gnats, a.k.a. soil gnats)
  • Red or orange (red gnats)

Eye gnats are 1/16” in size, while other gnats are 1/8” in size. There are also Savannah sand gnats, black flies or buffalo gnats, all of which look rather similar.

What Does a Fruit Fly Look Like?Fruit fly sitting on a blade of grass with green foliage background.

Fruit flies are 1/8” in size in most cases. These little fliers are also different because they have red eyes in most cases and are colored a brownish-orange or beige color.

The truth is that these fliers will fly away too fast for you to sit down and examine their features.

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Where Do Gnats Come From?

Fungus gnats are the most common gnat found around the home, and they lay eggs, which lead to their population growth. These pests lay eggs and within as quickly as four days, these eggs can hatch into larvae – it’s that quick.

Within just a week, the pupal stage will be over, and the gnat will be in the adult stage.

How long do gnats live? Just a week or so, but females can lay 150 eggs in this short amount of time. If you’re wondering “are gnats baby flies?” The answer is no.

Where Does a Fruit Fly Come From?

If you’ve ever had fruit laying around the home, you’ll notice small flies flying around them. Where do fruit flies come from? It seems like one day they’re in your kitchen and you don’t know how these little ninjas got into your home.

Fruit flies sneak into your home and will be small enough to enter through screens or the tiniest holes.

Are fruit flies asexual? No, they need a male to reproduce.

But females have the ability to lay a lot of eggs, as many as 500 in their short lifetime. An adult fruit fly can live 40 – 50 days under the right temperatures. And within this time, you may have 400 – 500 eggs laid in your home, causing a massive disruption in your home.

Are fruit flies attracted to light? Yes. Newly-formed adults will be attracted to light and may be seen flying around outdoor lights.

What Attracts Gnats?

Gnats are attracted to riverbanks, rotting garbage, pools of water and dirty sinks. Swamp areas are known to have gnats, too. If you have gnats in your home, this can be the result of overwatered soil.

If you have plants that you bring inside in the fall or winter, this can lead to gnats.

Moist soil provides the perfect place for a gnat to lay their eggs. And if you have a lot of gnats in your home, it may have been during rainy season.

What Causes Fruit Flies?

Fruit flies will make their way into your home because of fruit. These pests will require rotting fruits and vegetable matter when they’re young adults to be able to persist. Even a banana left on the counter and still in relatively good condition can be the sole reason for fruit flies entering your home.

Garbage can also attract fruit flies.

4 Methods to Get Rid of Gnats

If you have gnats in your home, it’s time to get rid of them once and for all. Four methods that will allow you to get rid of gnats once and for all are:A glass of red wine on white background.

  1. Red Wine: Gnats have a thing for red wine. And all you have to do is set out a glass where you see the most gnats. The gnats will be attracted to the wine (can you blame them?) and dive to their death to get a taste.
  2. Banana Traps: A bunch of bananas is heaven for gnats and fruit flies. If you notice that these little pests are in your home, cut up a banana into slices and add it into a jar. Grab a piece of plastic wrap and cover the jar, poking small holes in the plastic with a needle. The gnats will get into the trap but won’t be able to get out and will die as a result.
  3. Vinegar: A mixture of vinegar will attract gnats and cause them to dive to their death, too. Simply mix some apple cider vinegar into a bowl with a couple of drops of dish soap and leave it out on the counter. The flies will dive in to their death. You can also use a jar.
  4. Bleach the Drains: If you notice gnats coming through your drains, pour ammonia or bleach (not both) down the drains to clean the drains and kill the gnats.

You can also call a pest control professional that will be able to spray your yard once every 4 – 6 weeks to ensure the problem is under control.

Read more about Gnats

3 Methods to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Are fruit flies dangerous? Not in most cases. These bugs don’t bite, but they have been shown to be able to carry pathogenic bacteria due to them swarming to unsanitary areas. This isn’t something you want to risk.

Fruit flies can be killed in the same manner as gnats:

  1. Vinegar: A mixture of vinegar will cause fruit flies to fly to their death. Simply leave the vinegar out in an area where fruit is present, and hope for the flies to land in the vinegar and die. Add a few drops of dish soap as well as a rotting piece of fruit for even better results.
  2. Wine: The same wine trick will work with fruit flies. But this time, you want to keep the wine in a bottle and cover it with plastic wrap, just over the opening. Poke a few holes in the plastic and watch as fruit flies get trapped – and tipsy.
  3. Milk Trap: An old remedy for fruit flies involves a 1/4 pound of sugar, 1 pint of milk and ground pepper. Add all of the ingredients into a saucepan and heat for 10 minutes. Add the mixture into jars or bowls and place around the home.

Now, you may be wondering are fruit flies bad? They’re not going to harm you in most cases, but they’re not a welcomed addition to any home. Using the tips above, you’ll be able to kill fruit flies and live without the added fruit flies swarming your fruit, vegetables and garbage can.

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