Gnats may be small, but don’t underestimate how itchy their bites can be in the long run and the allergic reactions the insects could give you.
Just talking about gnats can send chills down the spine. They may look like fruit flies, but they aren’t the same. What’s most annoying is that this flying insect can bite you and cause major itchiness all over the body. Gnats are the food source for the common house lizards. If the gnats haven’t been removed from the start, don’t be surprised if you noticed more lizards at your home. Disgusting, isn’t it?
Previously we have shared numerous ways to get rid of insects from homes. This time, we’re going to share 10 tips to get rid of gnats from your home and heal the itch from its bite.
This article was translated from 10 tip halau agas dari rumah dan cara hilangkan gatal akibat gigitannya by Dayana Sobri.
What are gnats
Gnat is the common name for a variety of small flies. Two types of gnats can normally be found in Malaysia, and they can be divided into two groups; which are Psychodidae (sandflies) and Chironomidae (biting midges). The biting midges can usually be found near the beach, swamp, and jungle. They often prey on animals or humans in groups; causing itchiness and perhaps diseases to humans.
Compared to sand flies, the biting midges can lead to death or permanent disability if left untreated. Meanwhile, sand flies can be found in and near caves, tree holes in or on the edge of the forests, as well as rearing areas of animals such as cattle.
Gnats are not used to being inside the house. However, if your house is located near their habitats like the edges of the river, forests, or in an isolated village far from other living beings, you could be attacked by them.
Therefore, observe the areas of your home which are dark and moist. Did you see any small and black flies flying in the kitchen or near the garbage bin? Who knows, they might turn out to be gnats entering YOUR ‘habitat’!
How to identify gnats
If you’ve been wondering what gnats look like, they’re small insects that almost look like mosquitoes. Gnats are black and can easily be found in dark and moist places, especially during the rainy season.
Why are gnat bites dangerous
Just like those pesky mosquitoes, gnats can suck the blood of humans or animals. Normally, you won’t feel itchy at first bite because the insect would release a chemical substance from its saliva that works as an anticoagulant. This substance allows the gnats to digest the blood. Although there are gnats that don’t bite, the sandflies could spread diseases to humans. Here are a few ways to treat gnat bites and prevent infection.
Itchiness and allergies
For those with severe allergies, the bites of gnats can cause swelling in the bitten area and fever. It could also bring stabbing pain and itchiness that could last for hours or weeks.
Though there is no report in Malaysia regarding the virus found in sand flies, it’s always best to take precautionary measures. Normally, sand flies fever occurs in tropical and semi-tropical countries; and is also known as the ‘three-day fever’. The fever is not as strong as colds caused by various types of arbovirus.
Leishmaniasis or Kala-Azar (black fever)
Also known as black fever, it’s the main disease spread by sandflies and can be fatal. The disease can usually be found in India, Bangladesh, and Sudan. In Malaysia, this fever has been detected but only amongst the immigrants. There is no local case reported so far.
Perhaps the scariest thing is that this disease can cause organ enlargement like the spleens, while your body temperature would increase two times in 24 hours; without a bad headache while your body weight would decrease. All of these could be fatal.
How to stop gnat bites from itching
If you’ve been bitten by gnats and are looking for a cure for the itchy sensations it has caused, here are several alternatives to try.
Wash the areas that have been bitten immediately
If bitten, wash the area with soap and water immediately. This could prevent the spread of bacteria from rotten food or dead animals. Other than that, you can also wash using antiseptic liquid.
Apply a sufficient amount of anti-itch topical medicine
Itchiness is a given when bitten by gnats. To reduce the itchy sensations, use an anti-itch cream that can be easily found at many pharmacies. Take painkillers if the bites lead to swelling, major itchiness, and pain.
To remove the bite marks that got swollen, you can also use ice packs and place them directly on the swollen areas. This could reduce the pain and manage the swelling. If your condition gets worse and you’re having allergies where you have difficulty breathing, get immediate medical treatment. Don’t wait.
How to get rid of gnats inside the house
There are several easy ways for you to try and get rid of these pesky gnats from your home. You must implement these tips to remove the insects for good, while the situation is still under control.
1. Get good lighting and dehumidify dark and moist areas
As we all know, gnats are attracted to dark and moist areas. Take a look around your house to see whether you have such areas. For example, overgrown grasses that were left too long turned into bushes. What makes matters worse is if your house is located near the edges of the forest, by the sea, river, or swamp. If you live in village areas near livestock like cows or sheep, there’s a chance these gnats would roam near your house.
While inside the house, observe the corners of your kitchen, bathrooms, or toilets that could be moist. Try exposing these areas to the sunlight by opening the window. If your house is too dark and moist, you’re vulnerable to gnats, fungus, mould and mildew as well.
Therefore, allow natural lights and dehumidify these dark and moist areas to prevent the gnats from breeding. Clean up any bushy areas or clogged drains. This could at least reduce the number of gnats.
2. Don’t let your food scraps left exposed
One of the gnats’ roles in the ecosystem is to help the expiring process of organic ingredients. Organic ingredients like vegetables and fruits as well as rotten food wastes could attract gnats.
Besides that, gnat larvae that have hatched from the gnat eggs will make these organic ingredients their food source. This is why you need to throw these away to prevent the gnats from coming. Other than that, make sure there aren’t any small flying insects near the garbage bin. Use a covered bin to keep gnats away from latching on to the food wastes.
3. Dry out moist soil on your houseplants or potted plants
You can also get rid of gnats on plants. Moist soil on houseplants can also attract fungus gnats, also known as soil gnats, especially if they are placed in the corners of the house where it’s dark with no sunlight. How do I get rid of gnats in my potted plants? To dry the moist soil, simply place the houseplants outside and expose them to direct sunlight for a while. However, avoid leaving them for too long. If this method doesn’t work, try replacing the soil with new soil.
4. Grow trees or plants that repel gnats
Did you know that you could keep gnats away by panting the right plants? In fact, plants are known to repel mosquitoes effectively. Plants such as Marigold trees, Geranium and Lavender look beautiful in the garden and function as repellents for a variety of insects.
5. Try using organic insecticides on your plants
Plant lovers are already used to insects attacking; not only gnats but also tiny mosquitoes roaming near the plants, particularly in dark and moist areas. For this matter, you can try using organic insecticides on your plants to prevent pests from ruining your plants.
Organic insecticides are also easy to make by using ingredients found in the kitchen. Here’s how you can make a bottle of it:
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 6 hot chillies
- One piece of ginger
- 300ml of water
- One tablespoon of cooking oil
- One tablespoon of dishwashing liquid
Making insecticide is also quite easy. First, grind Ingredient A, then filter and take the starch before mixing it with Ingredient B. Finally, stir them until well blended and store them in a container for 24 hours. For each use, mix the essence with water in a ratio of one part essence with four parts water before spraying it on the plant. Interestingly, this essence can be stored for six months and is more effective if stored longer.
6. Hang the fly trap
If you have a problem with gnats flying freely in the kitchen or the trash, try hanging fly traps that have strong glue. These traps are easily available in any store or supermarket. Simply hang the traps in the areas where gnats are often found. These flying insects will cling to these fly traps and they won’t be able to escape.
7. Trap gnats using kitchen ingredients
Besides the homemade organic pesticides, you can create a gnat trap by using some kitchen ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Can I use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar to kill gnats? Yes, you can also use plain white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- A little dishwashing liquid
- 120ml of water
Mix all of these ingredients in an empty container. Leave it overnight in an area where gnats are aplenty. Sugar and vinegar will attract gnats, while soap and water will cause them to sink in the water. You can also use this mixture to be sprayed on gnats. Repeat this step several times if necessary.
8. Clean the pipes and the sinks
Gnats can also be found in pipes, sewers, and sinks since they are all dark and moist areas. You can clean the pipes and sinks with this method:
- Use a ½ cup of baking soda mixed with 4 litres of water. Next, pour the concoction slowly into the pipes and sinks. Repeat this step daily if necessary.
9. Spray for gnats
If your attempts at repelling gnats using natural ingredients aren’t fruitful, you may opt to use a few pesticide brands on the market that are made especially for gnats. Make sure the product is completely safe to use in your home, especially for those who have small children and pets at home. Otherwise, new health issues would surface, and we don’t want that.
10. Get help from the professionals
If your gnats issue is out of control, get professional pest control services immediately. They may be costly, but consider it a good long-term investment. For the best results, have a thorough discussion with these professionals. Explain to them how the problem started and show them the area that is suspected to be full of gnats. Listen to their opinions on how to solve this problem and consider what services they can offer for that specific problem.
We hope the tips we shared can help you get rid of these annoying gnats at home OR if you have your tips or suggestions to share, don’t hesitate to share them with us. Good luck!
Edited by Rebecca Hani Romeli