How To Get Rid of Gnats in Your Home

Indoor plants are a great decorative feature for any home and often spruce up the rooms they inhabit, breathing freshness into their surroundings.

However, their decorative value can sometimes come at a price: the presence of gnats.

Even though you may not have heard of gnats, you're likely to be familiar with them. They are small flying insects that can come in a number of forms. You'll spot fruit gnats and drain gnats, as their names suggest, around fruit and drain respectively, while fungus gnats appear on indoor plants.

Though fungus gnats don't cause any harm to the plants they surround or bite people, they can be quite a nuisance.

Newsweek spoke to experts to learn more about how to get rid of gnats that may have settled on your household plants.

What Causes Gnats in Plants?

It's best to understand how pesky gnats might appear on your plants in the first place. Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, house plant expert and author, told Newsweek that humidity and water attracts the little insects.

"Gnats love overly wet potting medium. They live in the top one or two inches of the medium when it is wet. Their larvae live there feeding on organic matter, such as the roots of your plants and then they become the small black gnats that fly around your plants and land in your coffee."

gnat on plant
Close-up of a fungus gnat. These are common pests that appear on ornamental potted plants in homes. Tomasz Klejdysz/Getty Images

How to Prevent Gnats

A simple and almost sure-fire way of keeping gnats at bay is by reducing the amount you water plants and ensure that your houseplants are not being overwatered.

"I tell people the number one way of controlling gnats is to let their plants dry out further down in the pot. Quit killing your plants with too much attention and water.

"You can also replace the top couple of inches with new potting soil since that is where the larvae are. Then let your plants dry out more before watering again," Eldred Steinkopf said.

She also pointed out that plant owners prone to over watering their plants will inevitably spot gnats, therefore perhaps it may be worth reconsidering which plants to decorate your house with.

"If you are heavy handed when watering, you will most likely have gnats. Purchase cacti and other succulents instead as they don't need watering as often as most plants. Otherwise, keep a check on your watering practices," Eldred Steinkopf added.

How to Get Rid of Gnats From Plants

If the reduction on watering won't seem to do the trick, Barbara Pleasant, horticulturist and author of The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, recommended alternative methods.

"Yellow sticky traps stuck into pots will capture many adults, and diatomaceous earth sprinkled over the surface between waterings will kill many larvae," Pleasant told Newsweek.

gnats sticky tape
Dark-winged fungus gnats stuck on a yellow sticky trap, these sticky tapes can be used to rid your plants of gnats. Marc Leupold/Getty Images

Additionally, Pleasant pointed out certain products containing useful bacteria will help keep the gnats away from household plants.

"Any product with bacillus thuringiensis (BT) as its active ingredient will eliminate fungus gnat problems in houseplants. For houseplants, the product called Mosquito Bits is good to have for fungus gnat outbreaks, which are especially common with plants that are moved outside during the summer months. Some people give their plants a BT drench before bringing them in to prevent fungus gnat problems."

Eldred Steinkopf summarized how to best solve the issue: "Quit watering so often and replace the top inch or two of potting medium." A simple enough solution.

lady catching gnats
A woman placing a piece of yellow sticky tape by her houseplant to trap gnats and keep them from settling on the plant and soil. Sticky tape is an efficient way of getting rid of gnats. Firn/Getty Images