Gnat Identification and Comparison

Gnat Identification and Comparison

Gnats are an annoying problem and bother people across the world. Although they aren’t a serious problem, like the mosquito, gnats are still a pest that can cause problems. One of the biggest problems is that gnats are often confused with fruit flies. Therefore, in this article, we will be doing a fruit fly vs gnat comparison.

What is a Gnat?

The term gnat usually refers to a group of small flying insects, normally flies, that bite and annoy individuals. Although some species are non-biting as well. It is hard to give a general description because gnat is a relatively loose term for many species, but for reference, the fungus gnat is the most commonly found gnat in the home.

A General Description of the Fungus Gnat

The most common problematic individual is the adult fungus gnat. They lay their eggs in moist soil and the larvae will feed on organic matter in the soil, which includes the roots. When there is a large infestation, the larvae will significantly damage the roots of the plants, either leading to stunted growth, wilting, or death of the plant.

The tiny black flies measure only two or three millimetres in length. They are closely related to mosquitoes. When you notice fungus gnats around your home, it often means that the soil has been over-watered. When the larvae are moving around the soil, the plant doesn’t have good water and nutrient uptake.

There are also issues where the plant can pick up and transmit plant diseases, therefore there can be even more damage, disease, and death to the plants. There might also be stress caused to the plant, therefore, the plant can suffer from additional diseases and pests.


Fungus Gnats vs Fruit Flies

There are numerous differences between fungus gnats and fruit flies. There are also lots of other differences that can help you know what problems you have when there is an infestation. Here is a quick breakdown of the two species, their similarities, and the differences between them.


Fruit Fly vs Gnat: Classification

One of the main differences is that the gnat and fruit flies belong to different genus in the taxonomy. The fungus gnat belongs to the Nematocera family. In comparison, fruit flies belong to the Drosphilidae family.

While this does not help identify them, it does showcase that both species need to be treated in different ways. Therefore, while they may look the same, there are distinct differences between the two.


Gnat vs Fruit Fly: Appearance

One of the key differences is the appearance of both the gnat and fruit fly. They are both roughly the same size, reaching lengths of about ¼ of an inch (about 6mm). However, their appearance is vastly different and this is the best way to tell them apart visually. For one, gnats are normally dark, grey, or black. In contrast, fruit flies can be any colour, typically tan.

Gnats also look different. They are from the same family as mosquitoes, hence their tendency to buy their young in wet soil, like a mosquito would. As such they also have bodies that are similar in shape, with long dangling legs, and thin wings, and their movements are similar. Gnats also lack visible eyes.

The fruit flies are in the same family as the standard house fly. Therefore, their appearance is generally the same.

Fruit flies have red eyes, which are often very large, in comparison to the rest of the body. This is similar to the other members of the family.

Gnats vs Fruit Flies: Their Habitat

One of the biggest signs of what species you have in the home is where the individual is located. They both have very different preferences that can be easy to spot, in many cases.

The gnat can normally be found around areas where there is a lot of organic matter, such as plants and soil. This is because the gnat likes to lay their eggs in the soil near the plants. The adults will also eat the plant and organic materials in the soil. What is usually the case is that the gnat will stay very close to the plants or organic soil.

So if you see the small flying bug in your house hanging around any plants you have, then you most likely have gnats on your property.

Fruit flies on the other hand have completely different behaviours and habitats. When they’re in your home, you will normally find them flying around rubbish bins, drains, or other smelly areas of your home. If there is leftover food that has started to rot on your property, that might cause fruit flies to start hanging around in the area. Flies do seem to have an incredible ability to get into cupboards.

Part of the reason is that fruit flies are creative in what they prefer to eat and live. They will seek out any rotting food. This might include the unattractive slime found in the garbage and sink drain. While gnats might just sit on the plant that they’re attracted to, fruit flies will buzz around the area that contains what they want.


Gnat vs Fruit Fly Lifespan

There is also a difference in the lifespan of the gnat and the fruit fly. Both have short lives compared to many other pests, but they can still hang around for too long within a home. Gnats live for about five to ten days. This is long enough for them to lay eggs and cause significant damage to your house plants.

In contrast, the fruit fly will live twice as long, up to 20 days.

While these are short times, it is not advisable to leave them be. During these short life cycles, the individuals will reproduce and cause the infestation to get bigger. Therefore, either infestation should be dealt with as quickly as possible.


Final Word: Are Fungus Gnats Fruit Flies?

Comparing fungus gnats and fruit flies is reasonable, they are both similar in some respects. But they are both different in many respects, including how to eradicate them from your family home. Proper identification is the key to understanding the problem you have and then you are able to implement your control response. Something as simple as sticky gnat traps, you can find online at Envirobug’s website, can prove a very effective approach.


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