Gnats are prevalent throughout most of the world and in general, considered to be a pest. Gnats are in fact really flies but because of their small size and other behaviors, people don’t generally think of them as such.
Gnats thrive outside when conditions are both moist and warm. However, due to their small size and ability to both reproduce quickly and in many situations, gnats can easily be found thriving inside most any structure. This article will explain some basic biology about gnats, detail why they are a problem in and around the home and then offer ways to treat local infestations.
As stated above, gnats are actually flies. They go by many names including punkies, punkys, buffalo gnats, buffalo flies, eye gnats, black gnats, black flies, hippelates flies, no-seeums or just plain old “nats”. Most gnats can bite bit unlike mosquitoes or noseeums, the bite can be undetectable.
For gnats that bite, females will need a blood meal in order to become fertile. Once she feeds and mates, egg laying will begin with hundreds deposited before she dies. Though she will look for moist damp areas on which to lay her brood, each species will take advantage of prime locations which can vary from region to region. One region may find eggs common throughout salt marshes and streams; another area may find the eggs on animal droppings or rain ditches. Flower pots which accumulate standing water, along with gutters, rain barrels, old tires and buckets all can hold more then enough water to provide the needed moisture for gnats to successfully grow and thrive. Once eggs hatch, larva will feed for 2-3 weeks and then undergo metamorphosis in a cocoon like stage called pupa. Once they fully mature, they will hatch out as adults with males immediately taking to wing to find a female.
WHY ARE GNATS A PROBLEM?
The adult stage is the one which people find to be so annoying and persistent. Eye gnats will regularly land on or around ones eye and nose; black flies or buffalo gnats will land anywhere they can find skin on which to suck blood. Fungus gnats are always looking for decaying matter and for that reason, tend to swarm around a persons exhales which means in their nose.
Regardless of which gnats you have, they can mount attacks in swarms. And though not particularly a fast flyer, gnats are hard to kill. They are elusive and yet persistent.
GNAT REPELLENT FOR USE ON PEOPLE
If you are going afield where gnats are active, consider some type of preventive application for either your skin or your clothes. A combination of several products will prove to be most effective but results will vary from region to region. For the skin, use some MAXI DEET or DEET LOTION. Both of these materials will repel gnats and other flying insects and keep them off your skin.
The first formulation is a 100% and just a few squirts will provide all day protection. Lightly mist any exposed skin and allow to dry naturally.
This formulation uses just 20% Deet but because its in lotion form, treatments will be “rubbed” into your skin and overall, last just as long as the more concentrated spray on form.
Treat clothing with PERMETHRIN AEROSOL for added protection. This product is repellent to most insects and is a great help at keeping ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats and most any biting insect away. Its odorless and designed for use on hats, shirts, shorts, pants and shoes. Spray garments once a day to insure long lasting protection.
GNAT REPELLENTS FOR THE YARD
If you plan on being at one location most of the time like a deck or patio, then Linalool Candles can really help. Made with essential plant oils, these candles will effectively “block” you from biting pests like gnats. The burning process will release a nice odor to people which is citrus smelling. In the process the Linalool will permeate the area making biting pests like mosquitoes and gnats not able to locate targets. The 6″ CANDLE will last over 40 hours; the 8″ CANDLE over 50 hours.Excellent for decks and patios, these candles can be brought on camping trips and picnics.
GRANULAR REPELLENT FOR THE TURF AND GRASS
For open areas like flower beds, mulch and grass, apply GNAT REPELLENT GRANULES. This slow release granule will last 2-3 weeks and is safe for use most anywhere around the home. It won’t kill any insect but it does keep them away. For best results, apply them no more than 12 hours from any “big” event. Use 1 lb per 800 sq/ft. Packed in two sizes; the 5 lb jar will cover up to 4,000 sq/ft and the 25 lb pail can treat up to 20,000 sq/ft.
Another repellent for the yard that works on gnats, mosquitoes and noseeums is the MOSQUITO BLOCKER. This device is simply set out around the area you want to protect and will slowly release a natural material which essentially “blocks” gnats, mosquitoes and other pests from scenting you as a target. By preventing their natural ability to scent targets, Mosquito Blockers will prevent the gnats from knowing you are present and will go elsewhere looking for food. Keep them filled with fresh BLOCKER REFILLS so they work at optimal level.
When used around a deck or patio, you’ll need at least two units. When used to protect people out in an open yard, use 3 units set up in a triangular pattern. Each unit comes with one refill as well as the 2 “AA” batteries needed to power them on. Refills will last as long as they’re moist; typically 30-45 days.
Renew cartridges as needed; sold in 2 packs they’ll typically last 30-45 days.
HOW TO TREAT GNAT BITES
If you’ve acquired gnat bites or expect to be getting bit during a field trip or other outdoor activity, bring some BITE RELIEF SWABS. This material will take away the itch and provide instant relief. They’re packed in handy “1 dose” vials and are easy to carry afield.
Each 10 pack has enough to treat 25-50 bites and works instantly to take away the discomfort of most any insect bite.
For lingering damage to the skin, GENES SOOTHING CREAM is an all natural ointment that works wonders. It will help your skin heal and during the process take away any unpleasant discomfort. Packed in 8 oz jars, apply some in the evening before retiring to help enable your skin to both heal and feel relief.
BEST GNAT SPRAYS FOR THE HOME AND YARD
Though repellents can provide gnat relief when local populations are not extreme or excessive, there are times when chemical applications will be needed. This will usually be the case when there are just too many areas around in which the gnats can breed and multiply. The constant renewal of adults means there will be aggressive competition for food which means repellents won’t work well.
When such conditions exist around your home, its strongly suggested you treat the outside to reduce these numbers. This can be done using a liquid for small yards but in general, fogging will be the most cost effective and efficient way to treat. And for inside the home, space spraying with aerosols will be required.
GNAT CONTROL FOR INSIDE A STRUCTURE
For inside a structure, there are three ways to control them. First, you can take away their “air space”. This involves “space sprays” which are safe enough to use where people and pets are active yet strong enough to control anything flying around. The second option is to control them where they’re breeding which is typcially down a sink, tub, shower or some other water supply. Lastly, using a lighted glue trap will help “collect” them and in turn, cut down on how much “treating” you’ll need to do.
Ultimately, treating around the outside of your home will of course reduce and usually eliminate any getting inside so don’t ignore the outside. But once inside, you’ll need to treat if they find a good reproducing area which usually includes water.
USE A SPACE SPRAY FOR A QUICK KILL
Space Sprays are very low doses of pyrethrin or permethrin based active ingredients which work well on flying pests. The advantage of these actives is they’re very safe for use around mammals like people and pets. Space sprays won’t last long; 10-15 minutes is about it. But they’ll kill flying pests quickly AND can be used throughout the day even as people are active in the area.
So the first option is the “manually controlled” MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER This is a fast working permethrin based aerosol well suited for space spraying any room. It only takes a few seconds to get it treated and results should last most of the day.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds) shows how to use this product as well as our aerosol machines below.
To treat the average 15 foot by 15 foot room, spray for 5-8 seconds. People can come into treated rooms within 5 minutes with no hazard present after the application. Pyrethrin is extracted from the chrysanthemum plant and there will be slight odor detectable following the application.
SET OUT AEROSOL MACHINES FOR “AROUND THE CLOCK” PROTECTION
For light infestations, this is OK but if you have small areas that will need treatments through the entire season, consider getting an AEROSOL MACHINE and CLEAR ZONE AEROSOL. The machine can be configured to release a blast of the Aerosol on a timed basis so you don’t have to worry about doing the treatment yourself over and over which is required when using Multipurpose.
Use 1 machine per 600 sq/ft of space. Machines are powered by 2 “D” cell batteries and will release a small amount of product every 15 minutes which will constantly be working to keep the area gnat free. Refills need to be renewed every 30 days.
BEST DOWN THE DRAIN TREATMENT FOR GNATS
Ultimately, taking away the reproduction site of the gnats is the best solution. If you even “suspect” they may be breeding down a kitchen or bathroom sink, they probably are. Showers, tubs, French Drains, Sump Pumps and Pump Out Systems are all prime nest sites and should be inspected throughout the home. If they’re showing any sign of gnats, treat them by taking away their food.
This can be done with the NO SURVIVOR ENZ A BAC.
To treat, simply pour it down the drain pipes and Enz-A-Bac will safely remove the nest sights these flies need for egg laying. USE THIS ONE A WEEK!
Apply about 2-3 oz per drain per once a week. Do the application late at night, before you retire, when you know the drain will sit for several hours with no one running water. This way the active in the Enz-A-Bac can have it’s best impact by cutting through the slime and organic matter which naturally builds up.
Next, use LEMON AIR DRAIN INSECTICIDE.
This product smells like lemons but is strong enough to control a range of drain living insects like fungus flies, drain flies, crickets, roaches, mites, springtails and more.
Add 2 oz per gallon of water and pour 1/2 gallon down any sink drain in the home you want to keep pest free. The lemon scent will also purge all malodor while controlling the nasty pests invading.
Expect to treat twice a week for 2 weeks during the initial clean out. Once the flies are gone, use Lemon Fresh once a month to keep them away for good.
HOW TO KILL MOTH FLY LARVAE CONTROL TRAPS
For the “worm like” larvae commonly seen crawling around shower stalls, tiles and grout work, wipe down the area with the Lemon Fresh as needed. Keeping some in a simple “spray bottle” can be handy too.
BEST FUNGUS FLY TRAPS
If you have fungus flies active around plants, set out FUNGUS FLY TRAPS in their pots and around other areas where you have seen activity. These traps are easy to set out and their yellow color naturally draws fungus flies to their surface. The glue will remain active for up to 90 days but replace sooner if they get full.
Lаѕtlу, thе SPARROW HAWK FLY TRAP саn bе dерlоуеd іn аnу rооm whеrе gnats аrе ѕееn. It’ѕ amazingly well adapted for catching flying insects like mosquites, noseeums, gnats, drain flies and more. It has a large glue board that catches them once they enter the holes on the outside band. Keep one installed in kitchens bathrooms or bedrooms where pests have been seen.
For a limited time, you can get the Sparrow Hawk in a kit with either the Multi Purpose Insect Spray or our Aerosol Dispenser and a can of Clear Zone.
Here is the kit that features the Sparrow Hawk with our Aerosol Dispenser and a can of Clear Zone.
BEST GNAT SPRAY FOR THE YARD
In general, its best to fog for gnats out in the yard. This allows you to get the best coverage using the least amount of product. That being said, we have a liquid spray that works amazingly well when applied using a good HOSE END SPRAYER.
So for spraying mulch, grass, ground cover, shrubs, trees and the side of your home, go with MAXXTHOR EC.
Maxxthor is oil based and is very effective on gnats. You only need .25 oz per gallon of water and it will effectively kill all stages. Maxxthor is super invasive and if enough is applied, you can kill all developing stages nestled down in the soil.
The following “short” video (less than 60 seconds long) shows how to use Maxxthor at a rate of .5 oz per gallon. USE JUST HALF OF WHAT’S USED IN THE VIDEO FOR GNATS! That’s right, you only need 1.5 oz of Maxxthor to treat up to 5,000 sq/ft.
PLAN ON TREATING AS SOON THEY RETURN!
Since gnats can rebound quickly following a treatment, be prepared to treat every day or two to get “ahead” of the cycle. This might seem like you’ll be over doing it but in fact its what you need to do with pests which have fast developing life cycles.
So what happens with pests like gnats is that their live cycle will be heightened during the warm summer months. This means they’ll be developing so rapidly, you’ll have surges every few days. And if you’re not able to treat adjoining property, you’ll be subject to gnats foraging from neighboring lots. If left untreated, these new gnats can easily get established on vegetation where your last treatment has broken down.
What can also happen is when using a liquid spray instead of a fog its easy to miss a good part of the landscape. This means there will be “gaps” or spots in the yard and mulch where you didn’t treat and gnats will easily locate these vulnerable locations.
In general, all shady areas out of the sun will be the main places to focus on your land but remember they can thrive in standing water up in gutters and even on tree leaves. For this reason you need to be through when treating and try to figure out what areas you’re missing if you find them coming back every 2-3 days.
All that being said, Maxxthor is still your best option for a quick kill and effective repellent action when applied around the home.
And the best way to apply it is with the GREEN TOPPED HOSE END SPRAYER.
FOGGING FOR GNATS – THE BEST OPTION FOR GNAT CONTROL
Now if you want to treat 5,000 sq/ft or more of yard, fogging will be the way to go. Anyone that fogs will find this method to be much faster compared to spraying liquids. Additionally, you’ll be using a lot less material to get the same area treated compared to liquid sprays. This is true because you’ll be able to “stretch” your liquid mixtures to cover a lot more area. Basically you’ll use about 1/10 as much chemical which means you’ll save on chemical costs and on time.
You’ll also get way better coverage because mist applications get most every side of any plants being treated so gnats and their eggs won’t be able to hide or be “missed” in the landscape.
WHY USE A FOGGER FOR GNATS?
For those of you who don’t know, Foggers or Mist Blowers are small devices that pump out a “mist” (looks like fog) which is a great form of treating any landscape. It’s highly effective because the mist these machines create will cover plants, turf and hard to reach areas way better compared to liquid applications.
There are many foggers and mist blowers to choose from and we have a large range that can be used effectively for small lots of 5,000 sq/ft or less right up to big lots that can total several acres. Just be sure to get a machine that will handle your property efficiently so it won’t be “stressed” or cause you to work too hard. These two conditions will in turn lead to poor product performance and/or a tendency to not treat enough because the work is too “hard”. A properly fitted fogger for your property will enable you to treat the area in very little time and save on the cost of chemical so it’s always better to oversize the machine compared to the work load it will have to handle.
For example, the author has about a 1 acre lot which he regularly treats for mosquitoes, gnats and other flying pests. Using his machine of choice (the Back Pack Mist Blower listed below), he’s able to treat the entire area using 2-3 gallons of mixed material in just 8-10 minutes. About half of this area includes his house and well manicured lawn; the other half is mostly a wild area full of overgrown weeds and other plants. He originally treated his yard with liquids and had to pump 20-30 gallons out over this same area to get adequate coverage. That process used so much more chemical and took upwards of an hour to accomplish. Now he gets better results at a fraction of the cost.
WHAT SIZE FOGGER TO GET?
For yards 20,000 sq/ft or less, go with our BUGSPRAY FOGGER. This machine can pump a lot of chemical over a large area in a short amount of time. Fogging is by far the “best” way to treat for most any pest and for gnats, most effective.
Our Bugspray Fogger is the best “deal” of the lot. Its super powerful, able to pump material at a rate of 2-25 oz per gallon and its fully adjustable so you can control it as needed. This unit makes a great mist for yard pests including both flying and crawling insects.
The following “short” video (less than 60 seconds long) gives a good “overview” of how to set up the fogger for use outside in the yard.
When pumping BITHOR, you can use it for any pest control need – even inside the home – and it will do the best job ever since all surfaces will be uniformly treated. Just fill the tank with water, add the Bithor, plug it in and fog away.
For some users, being able to “cut the cord” is important. So if you’d like a completely portable unit, get the BACKPACK MIST BLOWER. This device has a 3.5 gallon tank and is powered be gas. Perfect for 1 acre or more, this unit can blow a mist 50+ feet and plenty powerful to handle most any job. Simply fill up the tank, make sure you have enough gas and you can go wherever the gnats may be hiding! Great for property where being free from electric cords is necessary or if you have a lot of areas to treat on a regular basis but need to move from one point to another as you treat.
If you have several acres to treat, consider getting a truck mounted machine like the MINI-LITE ULV. This machine can create ultra small particles so you use even less chemical compared to the machines above. It weighs about 29 lbs and can be mounted on any ATV or small pick up truck for large scale gnat control.
THERMAL FOGGERS FOR GNATS
For even less chemical consumption and more efficient treatments, consider one of the following thermal foggers. These devices use DEODORIZED OIL instead of water in their tank mix but the ultra small particle sizes they project will stay suspended longer than water based sprays and work best when you need to cover several acres.
For 3-5 acre lots, the SUPER HAWK will do the job. It features electric start, a 1.2 gallon tank and weighs just 16.5 lbs.
For 5-10 acre lots, the GOLDEN EAGLE is better suited. It features electric start, a 1 gallon tank and weighs 19 lbs.
For 10 acres or more, the BLACKHAWK TRUCK MOUNTED thermal fogger is well suited. It can be powered on by batteries or even wired into the truck’s battery for convenient remote on/off control. It can hold 3 gallons of mixed chemical and weighs in at 73 lbs.
BEST GNAT CHEMICALS FOR FOGGING
Once you decide on which fogger will fits your need, you’ll need chemical. We two concentrates that work well on gnats and can be used together, at the same time, for convenience and long term control.
These chemicals can be used in either water or oil so they can be used in our cold mist blowers or hot thermal foggers.
The first product needed is BITHOR SC. Properly labeled for use in misting machines or ULV foggers, Bithor will both kill quickly and provide 2-4 weeks of residual action. Its odorless too making it a great choice for use around the home.
Add 1 oz per gallon of water or oil.
The second active to add is NYLAR. This special material is a “growth regulator” which means it intercepts or blocks the development of certain insects like noseeums, gnats, midges, mosquitoes and black flies. In the long run, using Nylar will effectively be able to stop the targeted pest from reproducing. It will also last long so new ones entering the area won’t be able to lay eggs that will prosper.
The 10% NYGUARD will readily mix with Bithor and you need 1/2 oz per gallon of mixed solution. Keep in mind Bithor can be used as often as is needed but the Nylar you only need to add for a maximum of twice per month since it lasts so long.
The two actives above can all be mixed with water when using any of the cold mist blowers. But for thermal foggers, you’ll need DEODORIZED OIL as a carrier for the treatment, not water. We sell it both single gallons and 5 gallon pails.
HOW TO TREAT OVER LAKES, PONDS AND RIVERS
For sensitive areas around water ways, ESSENTRIA IC is a federally exempt concentrate made from essential plant oils that’s both safe and effective for a range of pests including gnats. This mixture will work just like the combination of Bithor SC/Nylar and though it doesn’t contain an egg killing agent, using it ever 7-14 days will get the job done without presenting a hazard to people, animals or aquatic life.
Mix 4-8 oz per gallon of water or gallon of oil for use in both cold and thermal foggers.
Gnats are a major problem for many areas of the world. Though prevalent during the warm season, if left untreated in the home they can prosper year round. Be sure to identify local breeding grounds if you want to treat effectively. Once such areas are located, spray or fog with Bithor and Nylar. Use some repellent on your skin and clothes if you are going somewhere off your property and expect to encounter them. Bug Bands and Bite Shields will help as well and if you do get bit, keep some Bite Ointment available for treatment. Though the Repellent options will help, they will prove to be short lived and won’t solve the breeding problem so use them only where problems are light. For maximum control, spray or fog on a regular basis and you will be able to get outside more often and enjoy the experience a lot more as well.
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