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How to get rid of those pesky gnats plaguing your kitchen

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How to get rid of those pesky gnats plaguing your kitchen

First step is figuring out whether you have fruit flies, drain flies or fungus gnats

Gnats, flies, no-see-ums — whatever you call them, they’re disproportionately annoying for something so tiny. Taking back your kitchen is easy, though, when you follow the right advice. Here’s how to banish these pests for good. 1. Look closer. There may be teeny tiny bugs flying around but don’t assume they’re gnats. Fruit flies, drain flies and fungus gnats are three of the most common offenders. So you’ll need to get up close and personal to see what’s really going on. Fruit flies are brown with red eyes, drain flies have fuzzy, moth-like wings and fungus gnats are black with long legs, said Mike Goldstein, a certified pesticide applicator for Woodstream.Some context clues go a long way, too. Fruit flies obviously like the kitchen, drain flies congregate around drains and fungus gnats like potted plants, an Orkin entomologist Chelle Hartzer explained. 2. Stop bugs from eating by cleaning up. The first line of defense when it comes to fly problems is eliminating the food source. So to keep fruit flies from feasting, stick produce in the fridge or inside bins as much as possible. You should also rinse fruits and veggies as soon as you get home from the store. “There may be some eggs or very, very tiny larvae,” Hartzer said. “By washing them and storing them sealed up, fruit flies can’t find that food source anymore.”Drain flies have a much grosser meal of choice: bacteria, sewage and other gunk in your drain, garbage disposal or seldom-used toilet. Hartzer advises using a bottle of foaming drain cleaner to flush out the pipes, but the fix might take a little more work than that. Goldstein said an infestation can also signal a leak, so call a plumber if the problem persists.For fungus gnats, exercise your green thumb. These pests love humidity and moisture, so ease up on the watering. Repotting houseplants in new soil also helps. “It’s great for the plant and it’s great to reduce gnats,” Hartzer said.3. Lay a trap. While those preventative measures will stop gnats at the source, wanting to take some immediate action is totally understandable. And a good, old-fashioned vinegar trap certainly can’t hurt. (Get the how-to here.)The chemists in the Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute also like Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch, especially Senior chemist Sabina Wizemann, found that it worked better in her home than other homemade remedies she’s tried. Amazon reviewers also swear by Sticky Stakes, which trap adult fungus gnats and other insects plaguing your houseplants. Again, these products won’t address the cause of the problem, but a multipronged approach probably isn’t a bad idea. 4. Don’t worry. They aren’t hurting anything.While other species of gnats and flies, including the black gnat and black fly, do pose a disease risk, these three pests won’t do you any harm. “Their mouth parts aren’t just designed to bite,” Hartzer said. “There’s not any diseases that actually transmit.” Rest easy that, while finding flies in your drink is certainly annoying, there are some much worse pest problems you could have on your hands.

Gnats, flies, no-see-ums — whatever you call them, they’re disproportionately annoying for something so tiny. Taking back your kitchen is easy, though, when you follow the right advice. Here’s how to banish these pests for good.

1. Look closer.

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There may be teeny tiny bugs flying around but don’t assume they’re gnats. Fruit flies, drain flies and fungus gnats are three of the most common offenders. So you’ll need to get up close and personal to see what’s really going on. Fruit flies are brown with red eyes, drain flies have fuzzy, moth-like wings and fungus gnats are black with long legs, said Mike Goldstein, a certified pesticide applicator for Woodstream.

Getty/Wikimedia Commons/Wikimedia Commons

Some context clues go a long way, too. Fruit flies obviously like the kitchen, drain flies congregate around drains and fungus gnats like potted plants, an Orkin entomologist Chelle Hartzer explained.

2. Stop bugs from eating by cleaning up.

The first line of defense when it comes to fly problems is eliminating the food source. So to keep fruit flies from feasting, stick produce in the fridge or inside bins as much as possible. You should also rinse fruits and veggies as soon as you get home from the store. “There may be some eggs or very, very tiny larvae,” Hartzer said. “By washing them and storing them sealed up, fruit flies can’t find that food source anymore.”

Drain flies have a much grosser meal of choice: bacteria, sewage and other gunk in your drain, garbage disposal or seldom-used toilet. Hartzer advises using a bottle of foaming drain cleaner to flush out the pipes, but the fix might take a little more work than that. Goldstein said an infestation can also signal a leak, so call a plumber if the problem persists.

For fungus gnats, exercise your green thumb. These pests love humidity and moisture, so ease up on the watering. Repotting houseplants in new soil also helps. “It’s great for the plant and it’s great to reduce gnats,” Hartzer said.

3. Lay a trap.

While those preventative measures will stop gnats at the source, wanting to take some immediate action is totally understandable. And a good, old-fashioned vinegar trap certainly can’t hurt. (Get the how-to here.)

The chemists in the Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute also like Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch, especially Senior chemist Sabina Wizemann, found that it worked better in her home than other homemade remedies she’s tried.

Amazon reviewers also swear by Sticky Stakes, which trap adult fungus gnats and other insects plaguing your houseplants. Again, these products won’t address the cause of the problem, but a multipronged approach probably isn’t a bad idea.

4. Don’t worry. They aren’t hurting anything.

While other species of gnats and flies, including the black gnat and black fly, do pose a disease risk, these three pests won’t do you any harm.

“Their mouth parts aren’t just designed to bite,” Hartzer said. “There’s not any diseases that actually transmit.” Rest easy that, while finding flies in your drink is certainly annoying, there are some much worse pest problems you could have on your hands.

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