Many different kinds of gnats flutter and fly -- and get swatted -- but only a few main varieties live in the United States and are commonly seen in households. The fungus gnat, eye gnat and buffalo gnat are similar species, but they're not entirely the same.
Fungus gnats, also known as winter gnats, thrive in an environment where it's damp and there is decaying matter -- the same environment where you'll often find mold. For this reason, you will commonly see this type of gnat in a place with high humidity levels. Among the most common habitats for them are ordinary houseplants where the soil is over-watered or does not drain properly, creating a perfect storm of decay and moisture for the gnats to feed on.
Eye gnats are a non-biting gnat that have been connected to the transfer of human diseases and conditions such as conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. They prefer to live in areas with loose, sandy soil but can thrive in many environments. They are attracted to the fluids that from the nose and eyes of livestock and other animals like household pets, and they can swarm in droves in areas heavy with large herds of animals.
The buffalo gnat, also known as a black fly, prefers similar conditions to eye gnats. They are most commonly seen during the weather months, prefer moist environments and can be just as much of a nuisance.
Gnat Prevention and Extermination
Gnats must have a constant source of food, so if you want to prevent gnats from becoming a problem or get rid of a current infestation, keep fruits and vegetables sealed or in the refrigerator. Keep your counter tops and floors clean and free of crumbs, food debris and sticky substances that gnats thrive on.Once their food source is removed, the gnats will die or move to another area where food is available. If you have an overwhelming population of gnats or a recurring problem, consult a insect control specialist to help you root out the cause of your infestation.
Based in Lexington, Ky., Christina Root has worked as a blogger, writer and freelance consultant since 2009. As a mother, animal lover, natural alternative medicine enthusiast and a student of all things, she loves learning and sharing with others.