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Gnat Versus Mosquito: What’s That Bug?

a tiny black bug that makes a homeowner question if its a gnat or mosquito

Do you have tiny, flying bugs invading your home or yard? Not only are these pests annoying but some of them can carry diseases and cause discomfort for you and your family members. That said, there are many kinds of flying pests, including gnats and mosquitoes. Before getting started with treatment, it’s important to know what kind of bug you’re dealing with.

How To Identify Gnats

Many people use the term “gnat” to refer to any kind of small flying bug, including fungus gnats, black gnats, buffalo gnats or even fruit flies. Any number of things could attract these pests to your home, depending on the species. For example, some types of gnats might be attracted to decaying food. This could be anything from overripe fruit on your counter to leftover food in your trash to scraps in your garbage disposal.

Other gnats are attracted to excess moisture in areas like the soil of potted plants that get too much water. These pests might get into your house by flying through an open window or door, or you might mistakenly bring them into your home through cut flowers or a houseplant that’s infested. A variety of circumstances might also attract gnats to your garden, lawn and other outdoor areas of your home. This can include overwatered flowerbeds or fruit that’s fallen off the plants in your garden.

Different kinds of gnats eat different kinds of foods. Some feed on other insects and pests like aphids, while others eat plants, fungus, mold or flower nectar. If you’re noticing a bunch of gnats around your houseplants or flower beds, you might have a fungus gnat infestation.

These pests are particularly attracted to the moisture in soil. Not only do they eat the fungus and mold that grows in overwatered soil, they also build their nests and lay eggs in the soil. That’s why you might see just a couple gnats one day and then have dozens of them in your house the next day.

As you can see in the image above, gnats are very small insects. For example, fungus gnats are typically only about an eighth of an inch long. For reference, that’s about the same length as the thickness of two quarters stacked together. Adult forms of these pests have black slender bodies, one set of clear wings and six legs. Gnat larvae have light-colored bodies with black heads, and they don’t have legs.

a mosquito

How To Identify Mosquitoes

On the other hand, mosquitoes are generally larger—around a quarter of an inch—although some types of mosquitoes can be smaller. There are nearly 200 species of mosquito in the United States. While there are differences between species, all mosquitoes have two wings, six legs and a long tubular mouthpart called a proboscis.

Like gnats, mosquitoes are also attracted to moisture, but they’re especially attracted to pools of standing or stagnant water. This can include even small amounts of water, such as water that gathers in the saucer of a houseplant if you water it too much.

Mosquitoes lay eggs in water, which is why it’s important to clear out standing water in your home and lawn, as well as pick up items where water can collect. Some examples of areas that often gather water and might attract mosquitoes include:

  • vases or flower pots;
  • water tanks, rain barrels or cisterns;
  • buckets, pots, trash cans or overturned toys;
  • folds in tarps or flat parts of a porch;
  • bird baths or other ornamental lawn features and
  • poorly maintained pools or hot tubs.

Beyond standing water, moisture on skin, body heat and the carbon dioxide that we breathe out can attract mosquitoes to us. If a female mosquito finds you, she might bite you and use this blood to produce eggs. Besides blood, female mosquitoes also eat flower nectar and fruit juices. On the other hand, male mosquitoes don’t bite people and only eat sugary substances like nectar.

These pests are typically most active in the warmest months of the year. However, some types of mosquitoes can hibernate throughout colder months and come back in the spring. Many kinds of mosquito eggs can also survive over the winter and hatch once the weather gets warmer.

Because so many flying bugs look and act so much alike, it can be difficult for homeowners to figure out what type of pest they’re dealing with. That’s why it’s best to hire a professional with the skills, knowledge and tools to effectively identify and treat pest problems.

While some species of gnats can bite, finding itchy bites on your skin is typically a sign that you’re dealing with mosquitoes. Most homeowners want to find quick and efficient methods to get rid of mosquitoes. But, do home remedies, like eating garlic, help keep mosquitoes away?

bulbs of garlic

Does Garlic Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Some people claim that eating garlic can help keep mosquitoes away. Unfortunately, multiple scientific studies have shown that this isn’t true. In fact, some of the only kinds of food or drink that scientists have proven has any effect on mosquitoes are alcohol and some types of cheese. Sadly, the effect isn’t a good one. People often attract even more mosquitoes when they drink alcohol or eat certain cheeses.

There are also a number of other home remedies that you might try to repel mosquitoes, although some are more effective than others. For example, some people suggest burning wood to help keep mosquitoes away. While this might work for some kinds of mosquitoes, it won’t repel every species and not every kind of smoke will help.

Another common suggestion is to bring in animals that eat mosquitoes like birds or dragonflies. This might help reduce the mosquito population in your yard. But, it would take an incredibly high population of creatures to get a mosquito population under control. You might also consider running a fan whenever you are outside because this can make it hard for mosquitoes to fly.

Additionally, some studies have found that some kinds of plants, candles, oils and smells might help keep mosquitoes away. Some of the most common types of mosquito repellents that might have some effectiveness include:

  • lemon eucalyptus,
  • citronella,
  • lavender,
  • sage,
  • peppermint,
  • rosemary,
  • marigolds and
  • rosemary.

Nonetheless, even the most effective home remedies typically just repel some of the mosquitoes in the meantime. This means their friends will likely come back to bug you and your family. The most effective way to keep mosquitoes away is to hire a mosquito control specialist. These pest control professionals have multiple tools at their disposal to both prevent and control pest infestations. That way, you can enjoy your time at home.

a yard where they have taken measures to prevent mosquitoes

How to Prevent Mosquitoes in Yard

One of the best ways to prevent mosquitoes in your yard is to make the area less attractive to these pests. You can do this by clearing out areas where mosquitoes gather and lay eggs. Some examples of prevention methods include:

  • Avoid overwatering your garden, flowers or yard. Any water that the soil doesn’t absorb can gather on the surface.
  • Clean out any landscaping debris or clutter around your yard, such as grass clippings, leaves or overgrown hedges.
  • Pick up or dump out items that can collect water, such as buckets, sandboxes, old tires, toys, toddler pools, pots or overturned trash can lids.
  • Fill in holes in your lawn and tree cavities.
  • Remove or swap out water that your pet doesn’t finish.
  • Put a fine wire screen on top of any open containers like rain barrels, water tanks or cisterns.
  • Regularly replace water in ornamental lawn features, such as bird baths.
  • Get tight-fitting lids for your trash cans.
  • To eliminate mosquito larvae in your pool, remove debris from your hot tub or pool, and make sure the water has the proper level of chlorine.
  • Put away any tarps that you aren’t using. If you are using a tarp, clear off any standing water from it, as well as from similar items like grill covers.
  • Level out any dips in your yard where water tends to gather. Or, consider installing a draining system to help clear out water.

If you already have a mosquito infestation, the best way to control these pests is to contact a mosquito control professional. These pros have the knowledge, training and tools to manage the mosquitoes you have in your yard as well as help prevent pest problems in the future. A pest control professional can take care of everything for you, so you can get back to enjoying your home and yard.

ABC Can Get Your Pest Problem Under Control

Whether you’re dealing with mosquitoes, gnats or some other obnoxious pest, ABC Home & Commercial Services can help. Our professionals are highly trained and will create a customized solution to treat your pest problem. We also offer ongoing pest management, so you can feel more comfortable in your home and yard.

Holt Myers

Holt joined ABC in 2021 as the Electrical & Appliance Operations Manager before transitioning to Division Manager for Pest Control. Before ABC, Holt worked as a Project Manager and Superintendent in Construction. Holt also served in the US Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. Holt is a member of NPMA’s PestVets, Stewards of the Wild and Texas Wildlife Association. Holt is an avid outdoorsman, who loves to travel and spend time with his wife and daughter.

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