The Difference Between Fruit Flies And Gnats (And How To Get Rid Of Them Properly)

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Fruit flies and gnats are two common house pests that are often mixed up since they are both tiny, flying insects that are drawn to food. However, certain differences can let you know which is which so you can deter them appropriately. In terms of appearance, fruit flies are brown and round while gnats are gray-black with long legs and bodies. Their behaviors also differ with fruit flies being attracted to fermenting food and gnats having a wider range of tastes. Getting rid of these two pests requires eliminating their breeding and feeding grounds, using traps, and maintaining cleanliness.

Seeing flying pests gather in the kitchen or around your food is an annoying problem that you want to solve immediately. You can swat them away or hide the food, but that might not be enough and they usually keep coming back. Knowing exactly which insects you're dealing with and what they're drawn to will better help you keep them out of your home.

Dealing with fruit flies

Fruit flies are round insects that come in all shades of brown. You may not be able to see them close enough to notice these characteristics, so another way to identify them is by where they gather. Fruit flies will always be attracted to overripe or fermenting fruits and vegetables and other fermented substances like beer and wine. To get rid of fruit flies, you need to address things from the source. They typically get into the house when you first bring in your produce because eggs have already been laid on them. Later on, the eggs hatch, start to feast on the decaying produce, and multiply rapidly. Avoid this by washing your produce thoroughly when you bring it home.

If they're already present, the main thing you can do to get rid of fruit flies is throw out all rotten fruits and vegetables and put away the good ones until you're ready to use them. Keep the kitchen surfaces, sinks, and garbage cans clean and free of food debris, and if you still have a problem, set out DIY traps. To make a simple trap, take something they like, like beer or a rotten banana, put it in a bowl, and mix it with dish soap to make it sticky. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and make some holes in it so they can get in and get stuck.

Dealing with gnats

Gnats come in dark shades of gray and black and have long bodies and much longer legs when compared to those of fruit flies. While they are attracted to fermented substances, you can also find them in damp, moist environments like the soil in overwatered houseplant pots or the pipes in your home. One tip for home maintenance is that wherever gnats gather or come out from can be an indicator of where there's too much moisture so check it out.

If you find gnats around moist soil, address that by properly drying out your plant after watering and emptying the saucer underneath that catches the runoff. You can also apply neem oil to the soil to kill any eggs laid in it. Address moisture issues by cleaning up leaks or stagnant pools of water and reducing the humidity in your home. Two of the best ways to get rid of gnats are to leave out DIY traps like the fruit fly ones or to buy yellow sticky traps. A 36-pack costs $20 on Amazon and they are very straightforward to use.