Order: Diptera

The term “Gnat” is applied to any of the species of tiny flying insects in the Dipterid suborder Nematocera. The common gnat is the species Culex pipiens also known as the common house mosquito. The body length of a gnat can vary from three to seven millimeters. They have long legs and are typically weak fliers. Gnats are usually located around windows that get sunlight – Male gnats will fly in a large mating swarm or “ghosts” above streets or fields at dusk.

Female black fungus gnat
A female black fungus gnat
By EBKauai [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Families of Gnats

  • Wood Gnats or Window-Gnats
  • Gall Gnats
  • Biting Midges
  • Phantom Midges
  • Mosquitoes
  • Fungus Gnats
  • Moth Flies or Drain Flies
  • Phantom Crane Flies
  • Dung Midges
  • Dark-winged Fungus Gnats
  • Black Flies
  • Crane Flies
  • Winter Crane Flies

Controlling Gnats in Your Home

Fungus gnats develop in the soil that houseplants grow in. Their larvae feed on algae, fungi and plant roots. If you allow your houseplant growing medium to dry between waterings, it will reduce the number of fungus gnats larvae that may be developing there. Adult gnats can be removed with a vacuum cleaner.

Controlling other gnat families may be as simple as locating and removing their food source, such as fruit or vegetables that have been sitting on the counter. Insecticides or traps can be used to eliminate individual, adult flies but may not properly treat the whole infestation. If you continue to have issues and aren’t sure what to do, contact a pest control professional.

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