Gnats invade Houston: How to deal with the annoying insects

May 15, 2024: Swarm of flying gnats. (Stephen Waycott, Getty Images)

Are gnats driving you nuts right now?!

Houstonians are complaining about the pesky insects on just about every social platform.

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KPRC 2 spoke with Scott Egan, an associate professor at Rice University and an evolutionary biologist who studies insects in the local area to help you with all things gnat-related.

“Gnats are a broad and general group of insects within the fly family (Diptera). As with most common names, as opposed to scientific names, depending on who you are talking to or where you live, gnats can mean all sorts of small flying insects within the fly family, that are each distinct and sometimes unrelated.”

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The fungus gnats that are common in Houston kitchens in late spring and summer are one of two or three different types of small insects that can be found in your house this time of year, Egan shared.

“Fruit flies are another common one. The fungal gnats, which are small and black, usually live in the soils of indoor plants or in the drains of your kitchen sink - anywhere where there is decaying organic matter,” Egan said. “The fruit flies are also small, found near sinks and trashcans again with decaying organic matter, but are typically yellow to tan. Both are harmless, but can be a nuisance.”

When it comes to gnats, they make up a giant group.

“There are the gnats that form clouds of small individuals along sidewalks in the summer. I usually run into those on my runs,” Egan shared. “And then there are the more annoying like no-see-ums, which are biting gnats. All common Houston area gnats.”

Houston pet owners are also reporting seeing gnat-like creatures on their pets.

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“As far as pets and gnats, that might be a question for a vet, but the only thing I can think of are mosquitoes, another group of small insects in the fly family Diptera,” Egan said. “They can bite pets and come inside with the pets as they move back and forth from outside to inside during the day.”


Getting rid of gnats can be as simple as cleaning the area they are hanging and buzzing around.

“To get rid of gnats inside, removing decaying organic matter is the best way - cleaning all indoor trashcans, cleaning sinks, especially those with a disposal, and moving indoor plants outside for a bit. In addition, sealing all openings to your home that might let these little critters inside, including brushing off a pet before they get indoors.”

More tips for getting rid of gnats around you home:

  • Gnats breed in damp, organic matter like overwatered soil, decaying fruits or vegetables, and moist areas in the house. Identify and remove these breeding sites to reduce their population.
  • Ensure proper drainage in plant pots and outdoor areas to prevent standing water, which attracts gnats.
  • Clean surfaces: Regularly clean kitchen counters, sinks, and garbage cans to eliminate food sources and organic matter where gnats thrive.
  • Store fruits and vegetables in sealed containers or in the refrigerator to prevent gnats from accessing them.
  • Create vinegar traps by filling a shallow dish with apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap. The gnats are attracted to the vinegar but get trapped in the soapy solution.
  • Remove overripe fruits from the kitchen and dispose of them properly to eliminate a food source for gnats.
  • Consider using insecticides labeled for indoor use to control gnats. Follow the instructions carefully and ensure proper ventilation when using these products indoors.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect drains in sinks, showers, and tubs to prevent buildup of organic matter where gnats can breed.

About the Author

Holly joined the KPRC 2 digital team in March 2024, leveraging her eight years of expertise in blogging and digital content to share her passion for Houston. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring the city's vibrant scenes, all while balancing her roles as a wife and mother to two toddlers.

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