Gnats Vs. Fruit Flies – What is the Difference?

Gnats include fungus gnats, fruit flies, and drain flies. Drain flies have moth-like wings and are drawn to water. Because gnats breed quickly, treating an infestation is critical. Fungus gnats usually enter your home through cracks or breaches in the foundation, walls, windows, or doors.

They live in trash cans, rotten fruit, and other wet areas such as moist soil on indoor plants where organic matter decays. They are seen near drains, garbage disposal, and toilets, where they also lay eggs.

If you see a swarm of small flying insects in your kitchen, you may assume you have a fruit fly infestation when you don’t. Even though both fruit flies and gnats are dipterans (insects), they are not the same sort of bugs.


Fruit flies belong to Tephritidae and Drosophilidae parts of the families, whereas the suborder Nematocera includes the Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae, and Sciaridae families you find fungus gnats. So, how can you tell the difference between fruit flies and gnats?

You can learn more about fruit fly vs. house fly and fruit flies vs. gnats in our guide. By the end, no matter which tiny black flies you have.

You’ll know how to deal with the fruit fly vs. gnat problem by using the best pest control methods and products from around your home with no professional pest experts or pest control companies. (Learn How To Get Rid Of Gnats In Plants Naturally)

How Do I Get Rid of Gnats Or Fruit Flies?

It’s common to confuse “gnats” with “fruit flies” and “drain flies” with “gnats.” But there are three species:

Fungus gnats resemble mosquitos. They are usually black or gray. They’re little with long legs. The larvae of fungus gnats drain the nutrients from a plant.

Fruit flies have huge red eyes and resemble house flies. Brown or black. They usually come indoors from store-bought fruit or potatoes and dash to the drains to feed organic matter. That’s why trash cans are so common as breeding grounds.

Drain flies are mild beige to light gray. Their appearance is distinctively hairy. Drain flies show standing water for a week or more.

Here you can find a few ways to get rid of gnats and deal with your gnat infestations.

apple cider

Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

Combine a few tablespoons apple cider vinegar, a few drops dish soap, and a spoonful of sugar in a mixing basin. Place your bowl in a gnat-infested location, such as your kitchen or bathroom. The sugar and apple cider vinegar mix attracts gnats, and the dish soap traps them, causing them to drown.

Using this kind of trap, you can also use some old red wine to get the same level of attraction to kill fruit flies.

Use a Fruit Trap

Perforated plastic wrap can cover a jar of rotting fruit. Gnats will enter the jar and become trapped inside.

Use Diluted Bleach

Pour a cup of diluted bleach down the drains to kill gnats if you spot them around your kitchen sink or bathtub.

Use a Candle Trap

Fill a candlestick halfway with water and place a candle inside. Turn off the lights and light the candle. The gnats will fly to the flame and be burned or drowned if they fall into the water.

Expert Pest Control

A professional pest control firm can help you get rid of a persistent gnat infestation. The top pest control firms treat gnat larvae and adult gnats, and they will build a personalized treatment plan for your property.

electric fan

Use a Fan

A small household fan can get rid of gnats in the local area as it’s hard for them to fly.

Fruit Flies Vs. Gnats Identification Chart

Black Gnat

There are a lot of different gnat types that vary in color, shape, and more. Here you can find the critical areas of difference between fruit flies vs. gnats.

Color: The color of these can range from dark gray to black, although the most popular are brown gnats you will see around your home.

Shape: Gnats with red eyes, like the great majority of household insects, are tiny. They are only a fraction of an inch long. As a result, if you see small flies in your kitchen, they are most likely gnats.

Lifecycle: A gnat must go through three phases before it can be deemed a mature insect, they go through eggs, undergo larvae, and lastly to the pupae stage. One interesting fact is that should the weather be hot; the insects grow faster. Female gnats lay hundreds of eggs in organic material, be it your sink drain, fermenting fruits, or the soil around a potted plant. These insects have a typical life span of about 2-3 weeks. (Learn How To Get Rid Of Fungus Gnats with Hydrogen Peroxide)

Food: Mature gnats typically feed on blood and thus can quickly spread diseases and infections. You can, however, find other gnat species that only feed on crop pests and plants.

Where to Find Them: Gnats live outdoors and indoors and prefer to be near standing water; therefore, there are many gnats near a river in summer.

Fruit Fly

Let’s look at how fruit flies look, what they eat, and how they differ from fungus gnats.

Color: Gnats and fruit flies have nearly identical coloring. From tan to brown-black and brown-yellow, their color palette is diverse. So, it’s not fruit flies in the house, but small black flying bugs!

Shape: Fruit flies are near twice the size of gnats. The full-grown bug is about 1/8 inch long. It’s almost the only reason people get confused when they see bugs that appear like fruit flies. When comparing drain flies to fruit flies, it’s vital to note that the first species has a much larger body size.

Lifecycle: Gnats, like fruit flies, like warm temperatures. As a result, they can be found in the summer or early fall. The fruit fly life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and mature insect. The female fruit fly can lay eggs numbering 500 eggs at once. Fruit flies have a shorter lifespan than gnats, lasting roughly one to two weeks.

Food: The tiny flies prefer fruits, vegetables, and other organic things to eat. They do not feed on the blood of humans or animals.

Where to Find Them: Fruit flies prefer to be around veggies and fruits rather than your indoor plants.

What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid of Gnats?

Knowing the differences between the two pests will help you figure out which one you’re dealing with for the age-old debate between fruit flies and gnats.

Fruit flies have a brownish head and thorax and brilliant red eyes, which distinguish them from fungus gnats. Fruit flies feature a dark tail and abdomen and a striking black color pattern on their wings.

Gnats have black eyes and are black. A black gnat’s wings are abnormally huge compared to their small bodies, measuring between 1/4 and 3/4 inches. Fungus gnats also have huge, gangly legs that look like mosquito legs, allowing them to jump and fly faster.

Their life cycles differ slightly as well. A gnat’s lifespan differs from that of a fruit fly.

Fruit flies have a 30-day life cycle but can survive for up to three months if the conditions are favorable.

Fungus gnats have a four-week life cycle. Soil gnats prefer to lay their eggs in the damp potting soil of frequently watered potted plants.

Fungus gnat larvae thrive on your plants’ organic content and roots, which are their favorite food source, and grow into mature adult gnats, thanks to the abundant moisture in the plant’s soil.

Drain gnats, also known as drain flies, feed on organic material in your trash disposal and sink drains, whereas fruit flies feed on ripe fruits and vegetables on your kitchen counters and in garbage cans.

Female fruit flies lay their eggs on decaying organic matter so that the larvae can feed on the rotting fruit and grow into adult fruit flies.

There are various quick and cheap ways to get rid of fruit flies or gnats without spending a lot of money, whether you’re dealing with fruit flies or gnats.

If you need to get rid of gnats and fruit flies right away, you have seen a few simple traps you can create at home with everyday household objects to help you get rid of your gnat infestation.

Buying or building your fruit fly traps is the most practical and accessible option to attract gnats and eliminate tiny pests with little effort. (Read DIY Fruit Fly Spray)

There are various types on the market that you can purchase at your local home improvement store, or you may make your sticky traps using materials you already have on hand.

Sticky Traps

  1. Cut strips of brightly colored paper into strips to build yellow sticky traps.
  2. Spread some honey on one side of the trap and stick it in the gnat-infested areas, sticky side up.
  3. When the gnats and fruit flies land, they will be drawn to the honey’s sweet scent and will become stuck on the paper strips.

Cone Trap

  1. Gnats and fruit flies can also be lured into the trap via a paper cone and a piece of ripe fruit.
  2. In the bottom of a jar, pour a small amount of vinegar and a few pieces of overripe fruit.
  3. After that, roll a piece of paper into a cone and lay it in the pot with the narrow opening facing down.
  4. The scent of the fruit and vinegar will attract small black flies to the jar, but they cannot leave.

Tips to prevent fruit flies and gnats around your home:

Wipe up food and drinks: Don’t leave food or drinks out after meals and clean spills immediately.

Remove Trash: Gnats are drawn to objects in your trash, so take out your trash every night and use a sealed trash can.

Water Less Frequently: Only water indoor plants when they need it. Gnats use where you overwater for moisture to lay eggs.

Keep fruit in the fridge: Gnats are attracted to the smell of fruit, so keeping fruit on your counters can attract them.

Gnats Vs. Fruit Flies - What is the Difference (2)

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