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Safe Ways to Prevent and Get Rid of Fruit Flies & Gnats in Your House

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gnats stuck on a yellow paper with hang pouring apple cider vinegar into glass

What’s the buzz?

For anyone dealing with pesky fruit flies and gnats, the struggle is real! To help you win the war against these pests, here are some safe ways, tips, and tricks to prevent fruit flies and gnats and to keep them out of your home.


What’s the difference between a fruit fly and a gnat?

orange fruit fly with red eyes next to black gnat

While both fruit flies and gnats are extremely annoying, distinguishing between them is crucial so that you can effectively get rid of them.

Fruit Flies:

What do they look like?: Beige or brownish orange with red eyes.
How big are they?: 
Mature adult fruit flies are normally around 1/8 of an inch.
Where they can be found?: 
Fruit flies are normally found in the kitchen since they are typically drawn to mature fruits and vegetables. They also like damp and wet areas without much air flow. They can be found year round but are most popular during the end of summer and early fall.

Gnats:

What do they look like?: Black with delicate wings.
How big are they?: Mature adult gnats are usually less than 1/16 of an inch.
Where they can be found?: 
Typically gnats are found outdoors near moist areas, damp soil, or decaying matter such as composite sites. When found indoors, they like to hang out in old, potting soil. They can be found year round in the right conditions.


How to get rid of fruit flies and gnats

 

1. Have them drink some red wine.

hand holding a glass of red wine

Effective for killing fruit flies.

Have you ever unintentionally caught a sneaky fruit fly in your glass of wine while having dinner?! Since wine is fermented fruit, fruit flies are very attracted to its smell. And, for whatever reason, stale red wine is their favorite.

For families with busy kids or pets, leaving out a glass of red wine where it could spill might not be the most ideal way of getting rid of a fruit fly infestation. However, if you have some stale red wine you’d like to make use of, this is the perfect solution. Just pour it into a glass and leave it uncovered – or for peace of mind, cover your glass with plastic wrap and poke some holes. I have found both ways to be effective.


2. Try this apple cider vinegar and dish soap DIY.

hand holding glass with blue liquid covered with plastic

Effective for killing fruit flies and gnats. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Dish soap (a few drops)
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

This is my favorite way to get rid of fruit flies, and I’ve found it to be the most effective solution whenever we’ve had a gnat or fruit fly problem. The aroma of vinegar and sugar will attract the flies, so placing this solution near an area you see them frequently is important. Place sugar and warm water into a small container and mix until dissolved. Then, stir in the vinegar and a few drops of dish soap. Cover with plastic, poke some holes, and leave out overnight.

If you have a significant amount of fruit flies or gnats, you might need to make a few batches and place small containers in various areas around your house where you’ve spotted them. Leave your containers overnight and replace the solution with a new batch when you see bugs floating on the top of your liquid. Repeat until you notice no more fruit flies or gnats!


3. Leave out some mature fruit.

hand holding sliced banana in a glass covered with plastic wrap with bananas in the background

Effective for killing fruit flies. 

Fruit flies are called fruit flies because they love fruit! This is often why they take over your house. They normally smell fruit from your trashcan, or you might have ripe, delicious fruit sitting on top of your countertops that they simply cannot resist! One very easy way to kill fruit flies – especially if you already have fruit laying around – is to place some fruit into an open container. The more mature the fruit, the more sugars it will contain, which attracts more fruit flies.

For best results, cut up some fruit, like a banana, and place it in a container. (You can also add in some of the skin.) Then cover the top of the container and poke some holes. Make sure you eliminate other fruits and veggies on your counter so bugs are only being attracted to the food in the dish. Replace fruit that is overly mature or rotten after 24 hours to keep your house sanitary. Repeat the process if necessary.


4. Replant your plants with new soil.

two green houseplants sitting on floor and wicker chair

Effective for killing gnats.

The most common cause of an indoor gnat infestation is potted plants living in old soil. They are attracted to a microscopic fungus which grows in potting soil, so this could more than likely be the cause of your gnat problem. This same fungus is also sometimes present on fruit, so keeping fruit washed after you bring them home will also help prevent gnats.

Gnats tend to stay close to where they breed since they don’t fly very well, so spotting them right at the source is generally pretty easy. To get rid of gnats, you need to remove their food source (i.e. give your plants some fresh, high-quality soil and keep your fruits and veggies clean).


5. Burn a candle in water while dark.

cream candle in white dish with water and fruit in the background

Effective for killing fruit flies and gnats.

You’re probably thinking fire and water don’t mix, right? This experiment is meant to kill two birds with one stone. And no, I don’t mean trying to mix fire and water. 😂While some species aren’t necessarily attracted to light, many of them are. Therefore, lighting a candle once it’s dark can be an irresistible draw.

When they become too close to the fire they…well, you know. 😬 And for species who aren’t attracted to the light, placing your candle into a shallow dish full of water and a few drops of dish soap will end up being the end for whatever nuisances are left. While I haven’t tested it myself, a fruitier smelling candle may be more attractive to fruit flies.


6. Place sticky traps in your home.

yellow sticky pieces of paper with gnats tuck on them with green plants in background

Effective for killing gnats.

If you have a gnat infestation, these yellow sticky traps are perfect for taking out large numbers of them and can be used indoors or outdoors. The bright yellow color is irresistible for gnats, making them highly effective where indoor houseplants are located. Since they’re also made of eco-friendly material and are non-toxic, they are safe to have indoors or in outdoor garden areas. Wire ties are also included when you buy a pack of these traps which makes them easy to hang and use.

“These things are so amazing! We are currently dealing with an infestation of fungus gnats, and it’s terribly annoying and totally gross! I got these bad boys, and I am both delighted and disgusted because they catch so many gnats! I had no idea there were so many gnats in our house, but there they are. They just fly on over to the magic yellow sheet and keep getting stuck until the paper is literally black with gnats. AMAZING! And then you just replace the sticky sheet and watch with morbid fascination as gnats continue to fly to their sad little gnat deaths.” – Katie


Ways to prevent fruit flies and gnats:

bananas trash dishes green plant white window peaches brush light with white background

Now that you know how to get rid of gnats and fruit flies, here are a few key things to do in your house so that you’re keeping those nuisances away for good.

1. Keep your food clean. This goes for any fruits and veggies that might sit on your counter. As you’ve learned, gnats are attracted to a microscopic fungus that can be found on produce, so keep it clean.

2. Keep fruit sitting on your counter covered. You can do this with a jar or make sure to eat it before it starts to turn. The longer fruit sits out, the sweeter it gets, which will ultimately attract more fruit flies.

3. Take care of trash and dishes. If you have food and stinky garbage sitting around for long periods of time, fruit flies will be sure to find it, so make sure that your trash stays empty and your dishes are clean!

4. Replace poor quality soil in houseplants. As you’ve already learned, poor quality soil can attract fungus gnats, so make sure you’re upgrading your soil when needed.

5. Keep entrances and windows properly sealed. Even with screens as protection, leaving doors and windows open allows for small gnats and fruit flies to make their way in, so keep them sealed.

6. Keep your lights off when it’s dark. Since gnats and fruit flies can be attracted to light, you’ll want to make sure you keep your doors and windows closed during dusk and when it’s dark out. This will help to keep from entering your house.


How do you get rid of fruit flies and gnats?

Let me know in the comments below!


Sara (sara@hip2behome.com) loves sharing decor that inspires people on a budget and finds joy in traveling to new places.  

10 smart and different ways to use vinegar in your house.

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Comments 1

  1. Catherine

    Best way to get rid of gnats in houseplants is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth lightly on the soil. Wait at least 24 hours before watering your plants since the stuff only works when it’s dry. It kilts gnats and the eggs. You can buy DE cheap at Lowe’s. It’s all natural (made of fossilized sea creatures) and super safe. After 2 days, your gnat problem should be gone!

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