How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside

How to Get Rid of Gnats Outside

Gnats are small flying pests that can live inside or outside. These tiny flies tend to live in groups, often noticeable when many are present at one time.

Gnats can be irritating as they cluster around your yard, flying just high enough to get in your way. Fortunately, it’s possible to get rid of these pests, no matter which species has decided to call your home its own.


“Gnats” is a word that actually refers to many small flying insects. More specifically, they are of the order Diptera, which is a grouping of flies. There are over 1,000 types of black gnats, but of them, the most common is the fungus gnat. A fungus gnat can be one of many species, such as Lycoriella spp. and Bradysia spp.

Dark-winged fungus gnats from the family Sciaridae are also known as black fungus gnats or mushroom flies. Bradysia gnats are dark-winged fungus gnats, too, and many of them were formerly classified in the Neosciara and Sciara genera, though they’re in the Bradysia genus today.

While it can be confusing to know exactly which species of gnat you’re dealing with, the majority of gnats are similar in their features: 

  • They’re all small, dark flies who have long, clear, or mottled wings. 
  • Their wings are elongated and rounded. 
  • They have only a single pair of wings. 
  • They have long, slender bodies and are much smaller than many other flying insects. Usually, they’re under 5 mm in length, though they can be as short as a single millimeter or as long as 11 mm. 

Like mosquitoes and biting midges, gnats favor living in damp or wet environments. Gnats can live comfortably in forests, meadows, and swamps. Certain species are able to live in extreme conditions, while others prefer to live in flower pots inside your home or within greenhouses. 


The most common reason for gnats outside your home is the presence of suitable habitats for breeding. They’re looking for moist soil with nearby food sources. 

Usually, gnats come from infected plants. So, if you bring a new plant to your home, it could very well be the source of your gnat issue. Any potted plant with damp soil could be a carrier, so consider quarantining your new plants in a separate space (away from other plants) before you introduce them to other potted plants. You can also prevent fungal growth (and deter gnats) by allowing potting media, like soils, to dry out slightly before watering your plants. Keep in mind that moving gnat-infested plants outdoors will likely move the problem there, too.

Gnats are especially common in commercial greenhouses. Fungus gnats get their name because they love being around mushrooms and other fungi. The soil, along with plentiful food and water, is a breeding ground for fungus gnats. 

If you have a greenhouse, keeping it dry and balancing humidity can help keep gnats out. If your yard, greenhouse, or home is damp, gnats may be more attracted to your spaces. 

If you haven’t installed any new plants recently and can’t seem to find the source of a gnat infestation, try cleaning up fallen leaves or piles of dirt or debris that might be harboring moisture. If you still can’t get rid of the gnats, then it might be time to chat with our team at Joshua’s Pest Control.


When gnats are an issue outside, you need to take steps to get rid of them. Here are a few helpful tips that you can implement right away so you can get back to enjoying your space. 


If you have gnats outside, one of the best things you can do is replace your lighting. Consider installing low-watt LED lights instead of standard incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Flying insects, including gnats, are attracted to the heat of higher-wattage bulbs. Also, make sure your lighting skews warmer (yellow-white) rather than cooler (blue-white) to reduce gnat activity. 


Since gnats like moist or damp soil, do your best to avoid overwatering your outdoor plants and lawn. Avoid pools of water. If you keep a dish under pots to catch excess water when watering, empty it regularly to remove standing water. This will deter gnats (and mosquitoes) from coming in and setting up residence.  


Clear away leaves, debris, fallen fruit, and other yard waste as soon as you can. By doing so, you’ll remove potential sources of food and shelter for gnats and other pests, making them less likely to congregate in your yard.


Your trash can has the potential to be a seemingly endless source of food for gnats (not to mention cockroaches and rodents). Leaving the bin uncovered is an open invitation for them to eat, drink, and be merry. To avoid having gnats breed and swarm around your trash can, make sure to close the lid. Always seal up any trash you put into your outdoor trash can, too, so it’s harder for gnats and other critters to get into the bags.


Some yards are naturally soggier because they back up to creeks or rivers. If your yard tends to be heavy with moisture or puddles, consider having a drain installed. If you can’t, you could also try planting trees or shrubbery to dry up the yard, as those plants will use up residual water and keep the ground from staying soaking wet. 


Did you know that gnats can be trapped in apple cider vinegar? Mix a half cup of water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Then add around a tablespoonful of sugar to sweeten the concoction. With the addition of a few drops of liquid hand soap or dish soap, the trap will be set. Gnats will come to it for the sweet smell, but they won’t be able to escape the sticky, soapy surface.


Our team at Joshua’s Pest Control is here to make sure our neighbors are comfortable in their homes. We can help you identify and get rid of all kinds of pests, gnats included. We’ll go over some of the options you have for tackling gnat infestations as well as the treatments we can use to help reduce the likelihood of them returning. Call us today for a free quote


Author Bio

Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!