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What Do Gnats Eat?

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Gnats include a variety of flying insect species that belong to various families such as the Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae, and Sciaridae families.  Some of these flies are biting while others are relatively harmless.  Typically, gnats love to fly in large numbers or ‘clouds’ and they are quite small compared to most flying insects.  These insects are usually no bigger than a few grains of salt.

What Do Gnats Eat?

Some gnats are biting insects while others are non-biting which means the diets of different species can greatly vary.   If you want to get rid of gnats in your home then you should first learn what these insects like to eat.  Clouds of gnats around your home can be very annoying and one of the best ways to get rid of them is by eliminating the food that might be attracting the swarm.

Here is a quick look at the foods these insects love to eat:


Most gnat species love to feed on soft sweet fruits.  Because of this, gnats are often called fruit flies.  Fruits are a very good food source for both adult and larvae gnats.  Fruit flies love to lay their eggs inside fresh, ripe fruits.  These tiny insects love to swarm fruit trees and they can spoil all fruits your tree may bear.  They prefer decayed fruits but will also sting and feed on fresh fruits.

Gnats will eat all sorts of fruits.  They enjoy eating bananas, oranges, lemons, grapes, pawpaw, strawberries, cherries, various berry plants, apples, and just about any other fruit they can find.


Gnats also enjoy eating a variety of vegetables.  They usually target vegetables with a softer shell but will eat just about any type of vegetable that starts to decay.  Gnats love to lies their eggs inside soft-shelled or decayed vegetables.

These insects love to eat vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkins, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, leafy greens, peppers, cucumbers, and many others.

Decomposed or Fermenting Plant Matter

Gnats eat just about any decomposed or fermenting plant matter they can find.  They are especially attracted to plant matter with a strong smell such as fermented plant matter.  This is also why gnats are so annoying around your wine glass.

These insects can also be very annoying in your garden.  They love to feed on moist plant matter and will become quite annoying in gardens that are over watered.  If you are struggling with a gnat cloud in your garden then you should offer your plants less water.


Gnats love to feed on the slime that forms on the water, wet soil, and inside open drains.  When you notice lots of gnats hovering about your drain then you can get rid of them by treating the slime that is growing in these moist areas.

Moist manure

Gnats also love to feed on fresh moist manure.  They avoid dried manure but will feed on any moist manure.  They love to eat all soft manure types from animals such as sheep, cows, wild animals, and even dogs.  Gnats also love to lay their eggs in fresh manure heaps.

Decayed Animal Carcasses

These tiny insects are common visitors to dead animal carcasses.  They love to lay their eggs in the decayed carrion and enjoy feeding on these rotten meats.  Their ability to feed on animal carcasses benefits the ecosystem because they assist in decomposing flesh matter.

Plant Roots

Gnat larvae can cause a lot of damage to plants because they enjoy eating decayed plant matter and roots.  These larvae can dig around underground in soft, moist soil.  They can even cause plants to die if they are left untreated for too long or if you wet your plants too often.


Gnats also enjoy eating fungi that grow in the ground and on top of rocks and other surfaces.  They will feed on just about any fungal growth they can find and are usually attracted by the odor of fungi such as mold and mildew.

Diet Variations

Not all gnats will eat during the larval stage.  The Fungus gnat larvae, for example, do not feed at all.  These flying insects do also prefer to feed on nectar instead of usual fruits, veggies, and decayed plant matter.

How to Feed Gnats

Gnats are attracted by the smell of ripe foods or decayed plant matter.  When they pick up these scents, they will swarm the available food source.  They usually lay their eggs inside foods such as carrion meat, fruits, and vegetables and will also feed on these foods.  Once their eggs hatch, the larvae will also feed on these foods causing the food to become rotten.

What do Baby Gnats Eat?

Baby gnats are called larvae.  These insects hatch from eggs become larvae that look like tiny worms and then enter a pupae stage before they turn into gnats.

Not all gnat larvae do feed.  Some merely survive until they can enter the pupae stage and will then start to feed as adult insects.  Gnat larvae that do feed, usually feed on the environment in which they are born. Those who are born in fruits or veggies will start to eat their way through these foods until they are ready to emerge.  Gnats that hatch in soil usually feed on decayed plant matter, fungi, and plant roots.

How Much Do Gnats Eat?

Gnats are tiny insects but they can cause quite a lot of damage to crops and plants because they prefer to travel in clouds.  A cloud of gnats can easily spoil all the fruits on your fruit trees and can have devastating effects on fruit farms.

Are Gnats Dangerous?

Gnats can bite you and these bites can be itchy but are usually harmless. These flying insects can however make you sick when they contaminate foods with waste receptacles or when you consume fruits that contain larvae.

What Do Gnats Hate?

One of the best ways to avoid gnat infestations is by removing their food from your environment.  You can do this by covering up fruit bowls and by putting your fruits and veggies in the fridge.

These flying insects are also repelled by certain scents.  You can spray scents like vanilla repellent, citronella oil spray, diluted rubbing alcohol spray, lemon oil, and other strong-smelling oils.

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