What Are Gnats Attracted To? Light | Bug Zappers | Mold

Gnats are an annoying fact of life that many of us have to learn to tolerate, but understanding what appeals to gnats can make it easier to get rid of them or deter them from coming near you, your home, or your tent in the first place!

Let’s explore some of the top things that gnats might be attracted to so you know what to avoid or remove from your home.

Before we start, it’s worth noting that there are quite a few different insects referred to as gnats, so there are some variations, but most of us are familiar with fungus gnats, and these can be quite a frustrating one to interact with.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • The top things that gnats like and tend to fly toward
  • Some things that don’t appeal to gnats as much as you might think
  • Why gnats tend to land on and fly around people so much
  • Effective pest control methods for gnats

Are Gnats Attracted To Light?

This depends a bit on the kind of gnat, but some gnats, particularly fungus gnats, are attracted to lights.

If you have lights on in a porch, or you’re using lights in or around your tent, you are quite likely to find that gnats swarm around you and show a lot of interest in the light.

If you want lights that are not so attractive to gnats, choose ones that are yellow, rather than blue.

Most insects are more attracted to blue light, and you’re much more likely to pull in insects with blue lights.

It’s always a good idea to think about insects when choosing a light.

If you can’t change the light you use, consider whether you can safely add a yellow or red filter to change the tint of the light and reduce its attractiveness to insects.

This is particularly useful if you’re camping and you don’t want a tent full of insects, or to spend your evenings in the dark.

Are Gnats Attracted To UV Light?

By H8DeadW8 - Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84408415

Surprisingly, it is thought that gnats aren’t very attracted to UV lights. They can see UV, but it doesn’t draw them in as much as some people think it does.

You might be taken aback to learn that, as it seems some bug zappers rely on ultraviolet in order to appeal to the bugs – so why do they do this if it doesn’t work?

It’s thought that the wavelength frequencies disturb the bugs’ ability to fly in a straight line, leaving them disorientated and affecting their maneuverability in the air.

This can cause them to fly into the zapper, particularly if it smells appealing too.

However, it seems that the light itself isn’t what attracts the gnats.

Are Gnats Attracted To Bug Zappers?

Often, yes. Bug zappers are designed, after all, to attract bugs so that they can effectively remove them from the environment, and they often use pheromones to appeal to gnats and other bugs so that they will fly into the electric field and get zapped.

Different bug zappers work in different ways, so the level of attraction will depend a bit, but on the whole, these devices are quite attractive to gnats and to other flying insects too.

Setting one up near your home or tent is a great way to reduce the number of gnats zipping about in the air, although it probably won’t be able to take out clouds of gnats all at once.

If you’re dealing with bugs in your home, it’s probably best to use other control methods, as bug zappers may not prove as effective.

However, they should still work, and if you set one up in a room with gnats, you should soon see them flying in and dying on the electric field.

Are Gnats Attracted To Mold?

Once again, it does depend on the kind of gnat that you are dealing with, but many are attracted to mold, yes – in particular, fungus gnats, as the name suggests.

Lots of gnats breed on mold and moldy food, and this is something to keep an eye on if you’re trying to keep gnat numbers down.

This is one good reason to keep moldy food well away from your home or your campsite.

Your compost heap should not be anywhere near your home if you want to keep gnats away – and if you’re camping and some food has gone off, you’ll want this well away from your tent.

If you’re dealing with gnats in the home, the chances are you’ve got some off food somewhere.

Look out for moldy fruit in particular, as the fruit bowl is a common source of fungus gnats. A squishy orange or forgotten pear can be a major food supply for these pesky insects.

It’s good to be aware that when fungus gnats have started breeding, they will eat non-moldy food too, so they are a big nuisance once they’ve got established in your home.

You will need to make sure you get rid of moldy food promptly and cover all other food up or remove it from the surfaces.

Put food away in the fridge, seal packets, and discard anything uneaten.

Fungus gnats can breed in as little as a few days, and they multiply very quickly if there is enough food available to them.

You will have to cut off all the food supplies if you are going to stop them from continuing to breed in your home.

Are Gnats Attracted To Sweat?

You may have noticed that gnats seem very keen to land on your skin, especially when you are sweaty.

Many gnats don’t bite, so what are they trying to do? It’s very irritating to have them fluttering around your face, getting uncomfortably close to your mouth and nose.

Gnats are keen to settle on you partly because you are warm and this appeals to them, but also because you are a source of moisture and salt to them.

They will drink your sweat if given the opportunity, as unpleasant as that may sound. They’ll go for mucus around your nose or eyes, too.

Salt and water are important to them and they will pursue you with surprising persistence sometimes.

It is also possible that gnats will be drawn in by the smell of soap, hairspray, or other scents that you use, particularly if they are food based (e.g. vanilla).

This is one of the most irritating things about them; they commonly invade personal space, and accidentally swallowing one is not pleasant.

You may also observe gnats landing on your pets for the same reason, and it seems this annoys our furry friends as much as it annoys us!

Are Gnats Attracted To Carbon Dioxide?

Unfortunately, the answer to this is once again “yes, they are.” Because your breath has plenty of carbon dioxide in it, you may well find that gnats swarm around your face, seeming to almost fly directly at your mouth.

The only way to stop them from landing on you is to choose scents that they dislike.

Many repellents are based on hiding your presence from gnats by covering up the natural smells that you emit.

Although carbon dioxide is a challenging one to cover up, at least if you understand why gnats are flying around your face, you might find it easier to deal with.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do, except wear strong scents that might disguise you from the annoying little insects.

After all, you can’t stop breathing to deter them!

Are Gnats Attracted To Water?

Yes, gnats are attracted to water. Like all insects, they need to drink, and if they can find water, they will land and sip it.

Your sweat counts as a source of water, as mentioned, but so will any other kinds of standing water, and they don’t need a lot in order to satisfy their thirst.

They will go for cups of water, or fizzy drinks if these are available, as they also contain sugar, which smells good to gnats (just like it does to people).

If you don’t want gnats around, you should remove any sources of standing water.

Gnats won’t go for moving water, because they are so small that they are likely to drown in the current.

If you have gnats in your home, it’s a good idea to remove any water sources that you can, and to wipe down surfaces, clean up spills, and dry your draining board and sink.

If you can effectively remove the water as well as the food, the infestation will clear up much faster.

This probably won’t prove a perfect solution as things like drains often provide a constant source of water, but the more you can remove the things that gnats need, the more quickly you will get rid of them. Keep your kitchen dry and you won’t have as much issue with fungus gnats.

Are Gnats Attracted To Vinegar?

This might confuse you, especially if you have heard the old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar.

However, gnats are very attracted to apple cider vinegar, and it is a highly effective way to trap and kill fungus gnats when they have infested your home.

To do this, all you need to do is make a small vinegar trap. Get a shallow dish and add a slug of apple cider vinegar to it, followed by a drop or two of dish soap, and a little sugar.

The sugar will make it even more appealing to the gnats, encouraging them to come to it quickly.

Stir the mixture up a bit to get the sugar mixed in, and then place the dish on a surface and wait for the gnats to find it; it shouldn’t take long!

The dish soap then serves to trap the gnats when they try to drink up the liquid, and they will quickly drown.

If you are struggling to get rid of gnats in your kitchen, this is an extremely effective method for taking them all out fast.

They are probably attracted to the smell of vinegar because it is fruity and fermented, and it nicely disguises the smell of the dish soap, which might otherwise deter them from drinking.


Gnats are attracted to a wide range of things, and understanding what does and does not appeal to them can help you control and reduce infestations.

Make sure that you remove foods and scents that attract them if you’re struggling with an infestation, and use a vinegar trap to draw them in and kill them quickly.

If you want to learn more about insect repellant plants and various other articles on pest control, then checkout some of our hand selected articles:

11 Plants That Repel Stink Bugs

What Chemicals are in plants that repel Insects?

Low Maintenance Plants that are Known to Repel Flies


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All the best

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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