How to Control Gnats Outdoors
By: Julie Day
Gnats tend to congregate in mulch and shrubbery.
My back yard is infested with gnats, and it’s driving me nuts! I have a dog, so I want to be careful about what products I use. Could you please help? -Trisha
While we frequently use the word “gnats” to refer to any number of tiny winged insects (such as biting midges, punkies, and no see ums), true fungus gnats are small nonbiting insects that are drawn to wet, rotten organic matter where they lay their eggs and soon hatch into larvae. In general, they are relatively harmless creatures, but their incessant swarming is annoying enough to drive even the toughest of gardeners indoors.
Like mosquitoes, gnats can be difficult to control, because the problem may go beyond your property line. It’s pretty hard to deal with any insect in your own yard if they’re flying in from a nearby lake or farm, and some parts of the world seem to be overrun during the warmer months.
A little vanilla extract on the brim of your hat acts as a “natural” gnat repellent.
Take these steps to make your yard less inviting to gnats:
- Use sodium light bulbs in outdoor areas to reduce attraction at night.
Mulch is great for holding in moisture, but it shouldn’t be moldy or soggy.
To address existing infestations, here are some other ideas:
- Traps including liquid traps, sticky traps, and electronic insect devices can help control gnats in areas where the adult insects are swarming.
- Chemical controls: Foggers, sprays, and insecticides designed for flying insects will work with gnats, although they’re not particularly effective in preventing future infestations. Prevention is more effective, and less toxic, than chemical controls.
Homemade gnat control trap.
A variety of organic gnat control products, including repellents and predatory insects, can be found at your local garden center or at online retailers such as Planet Natural and Golden Harvest Organics.
If you’re not sure what sort of insect you’re dealing with, or if you’re being bitten, you may find it helpful to contact your local agricultural extension service for advice specific to your region. Information and helpful photos about identifying gnats and other flying insects can be found at doyourownpestcontrol.com
- Testing a Homemade Gnat Trap (article)
- Organic Mosquito Control (video)
- Eco-Friendly Mosquito Repellent (video)
- How to Deal with Wasps in Your Lawn (article)