Do Gnats Bite? The Truth About These Pesky Insects

Gnats are small, flying insects that are common in many parts of the world. They are often found in large swarms, which can be quite annoying to humans and animals alike. One question that many people have about gnats is whether or not they bite.The answer to this question is a bit complicated. While gnats are capable of biting humans and animals, they typically do not. Instead, they feed on plant nectar and other sweet substances. However, there are some types of gnats that do bite, and their bites can be quite painful and irritating.

In this article, we will explore the topic of gnats and their biting habits in more detail. We will discuss the different types of gnats that are known to bite, as well as the symptoms and treatments for gnat bites. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of these pesky insects and how to protect yourself from their bites.


What Are Gnats?

Gnats – tiny flies of the dipteridae family. Varieties exist! Usually, they are spotted near swamps, garbage bins, and damp, sticky spots. Annoying and able to enter our homes – we must know about these insects and how to handle them. So, let’s investigate: what are gnats and do they bite?


Types of Gnats

Gnats are tiny insects found all over the world. There are about 2,000 species. They can be different colors and sizes. Adults range from 1/16th to 1/8th inches long. Some gnats bite humans, but others just annoy us by buzzing around.

Common types of gnats are:

  • Fruit flies. They are 1/8th inch long and yellow to tan. They eat decaying fruits and vegetables, as well as molds on humid surfaces.
  • Drain flies. They have furry bodies and short antennae. Their wings move slowly.
  • Sand flies. They have small eyes and short, grayish-black bodies. They live near water and feed on small insects.
  • Fungus gnats. They look like fruit flies but are smaller – 1/32nd inch long. They eat decaying plant matter and insects.

Gnats swarm near moisture. They can infest bathrooms and kitchens. The larvae can survive up to two weeks. To avoid them, reduce humidity, store produce well, dispose of garbage regularly and remove any materials that hold moisture.


Where Do Gnats Live?

Gnats are small flying insects found globally. There are over two-thousand species! Most gnats feed off plant nectar, decaying veg, and insects. However, some feed on animals, like humans.

Gnats like moist places; near garbage, fruit trees, gardens, basements, and under furniture. Breeding sites are dark and moist, like compost heaps, muck piles, old logs, and organic waste. In homes they are often near gutter drains with still water, or plants with poor drainage. Outdoors, they’re most active in humid weather, as reproduction speeds up with heat and moisture.


Do Gnats Bite?

Gnats, aka fungus gnats, are small insects. They’re often found buzzing around homes and yards. Many assume they don’t bite, due to their size. But, gnats do bite – some species more than others. To figure out if gnats bite, let’s take a closer look at their behavior, habits, and characteristics.


Gnat Bites vs. Mosquito Bites

Gnats and mosquitoes have some similarities, but their bites don’t feel the same. Gnats don’t itch like mosquitoes do. Usually, gnat bites are so small you can barely tell. Mosquito bites are more painful, followed by redness and itching.

Gnats tend to bite people around their eyes, cheeks, forehead, and neck. They fly around before landing, whereas mosquitoes fly straight at their target and land. Gnats are small, so they can fly near someone’s face without alerting them.

In comparison to mosquito bites, gnat bites don’t cause many issues. The only thing you might get is minor skin irritation from scratching the area. This is because your body senses something has entered beneath the skin, just like when you get bitten by larger flying insects such as deerflies or horseflies. These cause more intense irritation due to their larger size and aquatic environment.


How to Prevent Gnat Bites

Gnats can be a pain. They even bite! No one wants that. Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid gnat bites.

Gnats like sweet smells and sweat. So, avoiding perfumes and colognes when you’re outside is a good idea. Humidity and rain make gnats more active, so it’s best to stay inside if it’s raining or muggy.

When you go outside, wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks. This covers up skin, which helps avoid gnats. For extended trips, use DEET insect repellent and avoid standing water.

  • Burn citronella incense sticks
  • Put netting over outdoor seating areas
  • Reduce outdoor lighting at night, since it can attract gnats in the morning.


How to Get Rid of Gnats

Gnats can be a real pain in the neck! These mini critters can quickly spread around. In some cases, they might even bite you! To get rid of them, it’s important to understand what attracts them and what repels them.

Let’s delve into these steps for ridding gnats from your home


Natural Repellents

Got gnats? Try natural treatments! Citrus, mint, cinnamon, rosemary, and tea tree oil are all natural repellents. Lemon juice is especially effective. Put some in a spray bottle for indoor use, or sprinkle it outdoors.

Place mint leaves in corners where you often find gnats. Sprinkle ground cinnamon powder in wardrobes, cabinets, or other areas. Rosemary is also a powerful fly repellent. Blend with hot water and steep overnight. Tea tree oil is popular for eco-friendly pest control. Mix 5 drops with 2 cups hot water, pour into a spray bottle, and spray onto surfaces. Gnats will be gone soon!


Chemical Repellents

Chemical repellents can be a great way to get rid of gnats. These usually contain insecticides or oil-based sprays that kill them. The sprays may take multiple applications to reduce the number of gnats. Follow instructions for the best results.

Some people may experience skin irritation or burning from this treatment, so wear protective clothing or gloves when spraying. Keep children and pets away from treated areas. Read safety information before using any chemical repellent. For further protection!



Gnat traps are a great, low-cost way to get rid of them. All traps work the same way: attract gnat adults with a sweet scent or liquid and trap them in a container. You can buy ready-made traps from your local garden store, or make your own.

For DIY traps, you’ll need:

  • Something shiny to attract the gnats. Think aluminum foil or paper plates.
  • A shallow bowl.
  • Soapy water.
  • Something sweet like apple cider vinegar or fermenting beer.
  • A light source nearby.

Put the trap together, with cuts in the plate to form “wings”. Put the trap by where you see gnat activity, and turn on the light. The heat will draw them to the sweet smell. Due to the shape of the container, they won’t be able to fly back out. Check your trap every morning and replace the soapy water if needed.


Gnat-Borne Diseases

Gnats are tiny flying bugs. They can be a real pain, but also pose a risk. Gnats don’t bite humans, but they can carry germs that cause diseases. Let’s uncover the various gnat-borne illnesses and how to spot them.


West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is a gnat-borne disease that exists all over the world. It can cause a few cases of encephalitis and meningitis. Mosquitoes and birds spread it, particularly crows, jays and wild birds. Humid, temperate climates are more susceptible to West Nile virus, but it’s also been seen in cold places.

Symptoms range from nothing to serious, even fatal, neurological illness. They include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Joint pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

In rare cases, West Nile virus can also cause confusion or paralysis.

Treatment is usually supportive care like IV fluids and pain relief. Severe cases may need to go to the hospital for more advanced care, such as breathing support if the patient has trouble breathing because of the virus.



Malaria is a dangerous, mosquito-borne blood infection. It is caused by Plasmodium parasites. Symptoms may arise 8-25 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. These symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, and vomiting. If these occur, contact a doctor right away.

The parasites that cause malaria are spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes that bite people who have the disease. It can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth, blood transfusions, or organ transplants.

Gnats cannot spread malaria or related diseases. But, it is still recommended to avoid gnats and other mosquitoes to reduce the risk of getting bitten. Apply mosquito repellent lotion or spray when outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are present, to lower the chances of contracting a mosquito-borne disease such as malaria.



Gnats are known for carrying arboviruses. These viruses can cause encephalitis. CDC reports that 70-80% of reported cases of encephalitis in the US are due to gnat-borne viruses.

Arboviruses are called such because they come from “arthropod-borne virus” or “arbovirus“. They are small parasites that are carried by insects and other arthropods like mosquitoes, ticks, midges, fleas, and sandflies. When these enter the bloodstream, they can cause encephalitis.

Generally, gnat-borne viruses cause mild symptoms in humans. These may include fever, headache, nausea, and muscle aches. But, the symptoms can be more serious in some cases. If you think you were exposed to such a virus, seek medical help immediately. The symptoms may take weeks or up to one year to appear, depending on the type of gnat and virus involved.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do gnats bite?

Yes, gnats can bite, but they do not typically bite humans.

What do gnats bite?

Gnats usually feed on plant nectar, but they can also bite animals, such as horses, cows, and chickens.

How do I prevent gnats from biting me?

To prevent gnats from biting you, you should wear insect repellent and avoid standing near places where gnats may be present.