I recently had a small gnat infestation in my house and know the frustration all too well. Gnats flying around my face, and worse, being woken up by the sudden feeling of a gnat trying to fly up my nose at night!
Outdoors, you’ll usually see gnats in a swarm, also known as a ghost or a cloud. You’ll find them in areas like parks, walking trails, campgrounds, and near bodies of water.
There are many varieties of insects that are considered ‘gnats’. Black flies, biting midges, no-see-ums, fungus gnats, eye gnats, sand flies, and punkies are all included in the overall term ‘gnat’.
Some are aquatic, some breed in soil. Some bite, while others don’t.
Fruit flies are a similar insect that are attracted to the fruit in your home, and may even be breeding in the fruit before you bring it in. If you have fruit flies, check out 10 Ways to Keep Fruit Flies Away From Bananas.
One of the worst things about gnats is they always seem to aim right for your face.
Whether you have gnats in your house or you like to hike in an area that always seems to have a gnat problem, there are plenty of solutions available to repel or kill these pesky insects.
Why are gnats attracted to faces?
Gnats can be attracted to your face for a number of reasons.
Any sweet fruity scented lotion, spray, etc. that you may have on can be attracting them to your face. Gnats love sweet smells. If you are planning on being outdoors in an area that likely has gnats, it would be best to refrain from wearing any fruity scents.
Gnats also like to land on the highest point of your body, AKA your head/face.
They also have receptors that attract them to the carbon dioxide we expel when we breathe, much like mosquitoes. This puts a big target on our faces when it comes to gnats.
How to keep gnats away from your face
The good news is you have several options you can try in order to keep the gnats away from your face.
Simple (and unscented) fixes such as wearing a tall hat or using mosquito netting can either attract them to an even higher area than your face (your hat) or block them from reaching you entirely. Wearing glasses or sunglasses will protect your eyes from gnats as well.
Natural home remedies for repelling gnats from your face include using any of the following on your face:
- Vanilla extract (diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio)
- Cedarwood oil, which is the main ingredient in Wondercide natural bug repellents
With any product going directly on your skin, be sure to test on a small area if you are concerned about a possible allergic reaction.
If you have sensitive skin or even if you just don’t like the feeling, you could try adding these scents to the brim of your hat instead of applying it directly on your skin.
Go unnoticed by gnats by masking your scent. Dab coconut oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, or cooking spray on your skin to mask your natural scent.
If you’re out on a hike and don’t have any of the above products with you, look for a pine tree. Rubbing the inside of a young pine branch on your skin can repel gnats away.
How to get rid of gnats in the house
If you have gnats in your house, start out by doing the following:
- Empty the trash
- Clean the laundry
- Clean your drains
- Let your potting soil dry out between waterings. Gnats like to breed in moist soil, so allowing the soil to dry will make it harder for them to survive.
Once that is taken care of, you need to catch the gnats that are already in your house.
Make apple cider vinegar traps to attract and catch gnats. This is an easy DIY trap that involves pouring apple cider vinegar into a bottle or container, adding a couple drops of dish soap, and adding a funnel or plastic wrap with holes over the opening. Gnats will fly in towards the scent, but they will not be able to make it back out.
If you don’t have vinegar on hand, try one of these alternative ways to get rid of gnats without it.
Sticky traps are excellent at catching and killing gnats, especially the ones flying around and breeding in your plants. Put them around your potted plants and anywhere else you normally see them.
To one-up the sticky trap, you can buy a mosquito trap (that also works on gnats and other flying insects). It emits a light that attracts bugs, a fan then sucks them in and sends them straight down to a sticky trap at the bottom. These traps are safe to use indoors around children.
How to repel gnats from an outdoor space
If gnats are keeping you and your family from enjoying your yard, patio, and general outdoor space here are some ways to take back your space.
Discourage gnat swarms from your porch by running fans to keep air circulating.
Sprinkle spices to create a border around your area. Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and garlic work well for this. Spread a light sprinkle around you to repel gnats from encroaching on your outdoor space.
Lay out a bowl of apple cider vinegar and dish soap to attract the gnats to an area away from you. This works similarly to the apple cider vinegar trap you can use inside your home.
If gnats are regularly in your yard, consider planting some plants that naturally repel gnats. Lavender, geraniums, and marigolds are good choices for this.
Although, if gnats are a continuous problem it is best to search the yard for what is attracting them in the first place. Do you have wet mulch? A compost pile too close to the lounge area? Rotting plant debris in the yard?
Look for anything wet or smelly that may be attracting them or acting as a host to breed in and take care of the issue head on.
And if gnats are bothering your dog, learn how to protect your dog from gnats here.