Difference Between Gnats and Fruit Flies

What are the Differences Between Gnats and Fruit Flies?

Primary Differences

The term gnat is commonly used to describe any number of small flies including midges, mosquitoes, and several non-biting species.

Fungus Gnat
In our service area, the most common gnat is the fungus gnat.
fungus gnat
Fungus Gnat

Fungus gnats are:

  • Dark in color
  • Have slender legs
  • Typically measure 1/8 of an inch long
  • Wings are usually translucent
  • Have segmented antennae longer than their heads

Fungus gnats lay their eggs in damp soil and the hatched larvae are responsible for a considerable amount of damage done to plant roots.

Adult fungus gnats are primarily nuisances as, contrary to popular belief, they do not bite people.

Fruit Flies
image of a fruit fly
Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are:

  • Similar in size to fungus gnats (the two species are sometimes mistaken for one another)
  • Usually light brown in color
  • Recognizable due to their distinctive red eyes

The pests are commonly found hovering around overripe produce and fermenting liquids such as carbonated beverages. Larvae emerge from eggs laid in rotting organic material and speed up the deterioration of the produce.

Fruit flies are common nuisance pests in:

  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Homes

Control Methods

Proper sanitation is always the key to keeping fly populations under control. To help keep the fruit fly presence to a minimum:

  • Clean up spills
  • Sanitizing surfaces
  • Discard rotting produce in a secure bag or receptacle

With fungus gnats, overwatering indoor plants and allowing moisture to accumulate in mulch beds leads to breeding indoors, so property owners should ensure proper drainage.

For severe infestations, individuals should contact trained pest professionals.

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