Gnats in your backyard will not only drive you nuts with their pesky habit but also pose a threat to your health and that of your plants. Luckily, they’re not invincible, and there are several methods of driving them away from your yard. The name “gnats” refers to various types of insects which we discuss as you read on.
“Gnats” is a collective name for various types of tiny, winged insects that look like mosquitoes, though shorter in length (about 1/8 inches). They have six long legs and are usually brown or black in appearance.
You’ll often find them in damp areas; around places with rotten organic matter; in damp environments. Some of them, like fruit flies, are also attracted to the kitchen.
These insects often live for around two weeks through which they develop in four stages; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. During the larva stage, gnats will mostly feed on plants and organic matter in the soil.
It is at this point that they’re very dangerous to your backyard plants. Larva gnats are usually more harmful than adults.
Cool temperatures and damp conditions facilitate the reproduction of gnats as discussed in the next section. Meanwhile, a few examples of these insects include the fruit fly, moth flies, drain flies, phorid flies, and fungus gnats. There are even more.
Where Do They Stay?
Gnats mostly live and reproduce in damp areas. You’ll often find them in various areas depending on their types. For instance, fungus gnats are common on plants with fungal diseases and on rotting leaves, leave alone damp areas and rotting firewood.
Fruit flies are common on or around scratched fruits in your kitchen, and in damp areas, too. You may also spot them in mulch, around your sink (where they’re looking for decomposing food), garbage collections, around light fixtures, and other places.
Once you know where the insects congregate, you have a better chance of getting rid of them from your yard completely. Always remember to look for both adult gnats and their larva (white or clear color) while conducting your inspection. Inspect during the day when they’re active.
You can use biological, chemical, or cultural methods to do away with gnats from your backyard. We’ve listed and explained some of the most effective methods below.
Eliminate Their Habitats
You already know that gnats only stay in or around designated spots. Getting rid of these habitats will vanish together with the insects. For example, cutting down and disposing of trees infected with fungi diseases will discourage their stay.
Likewise, minimizing damp soil and eradicating dead organic matter from your backyard works to keep them away. Also, consider amending your garden soil for improved drainage to reduce flooding water.
Spray Professional Insecticides
In case of an infestation in swarms, or in case natural methods fail, your best shot could be the use of insecticides. There are many types of such chemicals, so it’s important that you go for those made for flying insects or gnats in specific.
If you aren’t sure about your options, contacting a professional will be of immense help. Always remember to use PPE while using these chemicals.
Use Mosquito Dunks
Mosquito Dunks are tablets that release the b.t.i. larvicide bacteria that kill the gnat larvae. The tablets are completely eco-friendly, and their effectiveness on a variety of insect larvae has been proved by several studies. To use it, dip the solid inside water and leave it for some hours as it releases the bacteria.
Then, spray the bacteria-filled water on soils that contain the insects and their larva. You’ll see results within a week. The results will last for as long as 30+ days.
Traps also work for gnats regardless of their small size. However, you should note that they work only for adult ones and that some traps may also capture other innocent insects if wrongly placed.
Therefore, ensure you only leave the traps around paces infested with gnats. You can use liquid, sticky, and ultraviolet light traps, among others.
The market has a wide range of gnat repellents ranging from sprays and oils to fans and clothing among others. Vanilla, pine oil, and DEET are some of the most common repellents. You may also scour the market for repellent clothes and sprays to use on your patio or indoors.
Always be keen not to fall victim to fake products as they’re all over the internet and brick-and-mortar stores.
Change/Switch Off Your Bulbs
Some gnats are attracted to light in your indoor and outdoor bulbs. That’s why you’ll find them flying around your bulbs. In this case, replacing such bulbs with less attractive ones is the best way out of the problem.
Low-voltage, sodium, and yellow bug light bulbs are a few good examples, but there are other market options. You may also consider switching off your attractive bulbs at night during seasons when the insects are many.
Cover Yourself Up
Some gnats live away from your home but never cease to visit you at the wrong time. If you’re planning to have an outdoor event or activity and you’re afraid that these insects may disturb you in the course, consider covering yourself with protective or repellent clothes. Long-sleeved shirts, head nets, socks, gloves, and long pants can help.
Keeping Gnats At Bay
After driving these insects from your backyard, there’s a need to put up measures that will ensure they don’t return. Here are our recommended steps to take.
1. Tidy up your backyard to remove all organic matter and make it devoid of gnat habitats or food.
2. Replace dirty water inside birdbaths and other containers in an attempt to reduce favorable breeding areas for the insects.
3. Get rid of moist soil that harbors the insects’ larva and eggs. You can cover the topsoil with sand so that they don’t find it.
4. Use repellent bulbs outside your home. The insects won’t come around if they find the bulbs unattractive.
5. Find and predatory insects and other animals that aren’t harmful to your garden in other ways.
The Bottom Line
In dealing with gnats, the first step is knowing their identity both in the larva and adult forms. Then, find where they stay before applying the natural ways described to eradicate them. If all-natural methods fail, you’re clear to use chemicals for the control. Meanwhile, the measures employed above are your best shot at these stubborn insects.