Learn about Gnats
Gnats, of order Diptera and suborder Nematocera, are small, long-legged, and winged insects often found flying in large swarms.
Notably, the word gnat is colloquial, as there is no official scientific definition for what a gnat precisely is.
Like many insects, moisture and a food source attract gnats, but they are also attracted to moist soil and decaying organic matter. While most gnats are not particularly dangerous insects, they are multitudinous and breed quickly, allowing them to infest an area fast.
|Long, slender, oval||3 mm|
- Certain kinds of gnat larvae are born on aquatic plant life
- Some gnats live in the Arctic and Antarctic
- Some varieties, such as the fungus gnat, can survive below-freezing temperatures
- Gnats are mostly found outdoors, but the potting soil of indoor plants can attract them
- Prefer to breed in aquatic habitats.
Gnats are attracted to various things. Several species are drawn to light, hence why they will swarm around outdoor lighting.
Furthermore, the scent of fruit can attract gnats, which is why they will sometimes swarm around people. Certain scented hygiene products like soap or shampoo can entice gnats and clothing due to scented laundry detergent.
Most eat various forms of organic matter, decaying or otherwise. In some cases, they will feed on blood or insects. Certain types of gnats do not even eat once they reach the adult stage of their life.
The majority of gnats thrive in warm, humid areas. If there is any damp soil or water in a region, there is a good chance gnats will live there, as these areas serve as their preferred breeding ground.
These aquatic habitats can be anywhere from lakes (natural or man-made), ponds, rivers, or even sewage. For certain breeds, the soil and decaying plant matter around house plants can serve as a suitable environment for them to live.
Gnats’ reproduction cycle in the summer lasts two to three weeks. At dusk, male gnats gather in a swarm known as a ghost to begin the mating process.
The female can lay up to 300 eggs in up to 30 batches on a body of water’s surface.
Once gnat larvae hatch, they can take up to seven weeks to reach the pupal stage. They will remain in the pupal stage for three days, and then become adults and begin mating.
An adult gnat lives only three to five days.
For the most part, gnats are not a threat to humans, but they are a nuisance. Due to their rapid breeding and tendency to swarm, they can dirty windshields and disrupt outdoor activities.
Additionally, indoor varieties feed on houseplants, and can quickly increase in number. In some cases, breeds like the buffalo gnat will bite, and potentially spread diseases such as river blindness.
One method to keep gnats from infesting is to limit their food sources (decomposing materials).
Another technique is letting the soil dry before watering it again will kill the gnat larvae living in the soil. For adults, using a vacuum cleaner to remove them is advisable.
Eliminating any stagnant water from your property can prevent gnats from breeding.