Fruit Flies vs Gnats: How To Identify Them?

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Fruit flies and gnats are both small, notorious flying pests. While they may look similar, there are a few key differences. Fruit flies vs gnats are both teeny-tiny pests that you wish would leave your house once they’ve infiltrated it. One of the most serious issues with all insects is their small size. As a result, people frequently confuse them and select incorrect controls.

There are a few key differences between fruit flies and gnats. The most obvious difference is the size of their heads; a fruit fly’s head is much bigger than that of a gnat.

Another difference is that gnats have long legs, while fruit flies do not have any legs. Finally, fruit flies typically live near decomposing fruits or vegetables, while gnats can be found near plants and animals.

Where do fruit flies and gnats come from?

Fruit flies

Fruit flies are attracted to fermented vegetables and fruits. Fruit flies are particularly attracted to rotting and decaying fruit. They will often lay their eggs on the surface of the fruit or inside it. If you see a fruit fly, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to prevent it from multiplying.


Gnats come from various places, but the most common way they enter your home is through drains and cracks. This is why it is important to fix any leaks or broken tiles in your bathroom so you can prevent gnats from multiplying and invading your home.

Gnats are drawn to moist, dark environments and can often be found near mold and slime.

Fruit Flies vs Gnats

Are gnats and fruit flies the same?

Gnats and fruit flies are different types of insects that are often mistaken. Gnats are typically grey or black, while fruit flies are brown. They also have different appearances and lifespans.

There are a few key difference between gnats and fruit flies. For one, fruit flies eat vegetables, fruits, and other organic matters, while gnats feed on plants and blood.

Additionally, gnats tend to be larger than fruit flies. Gnats congregate near moist environments like ponds and swamps, while fruit flies prefer rotting fruits and vegetables.

Is it Gnats or Fruit Flies in the Kitchen?

Gnats vs fruit flies are two types of common flying pests that invade your home. They can both be a nuisance, but they invade your home in different ways and are more common in different areas.

Gnats are more common than fruit flies and can be found anywhere there is moisture. On the other hand, fruit flies are usually found near food or rotting fruits and vegetables.

However, there are some key differences between gnats and fruit flies. Fruit flies are typically smaller than gnats, and they do not have red eyes like fruit flies do. Additionally, gnats can breed in the water while fruit flies cannot.

On the other hand, fruit flies are attracted to the sweet odor of ripening fruits and vegetables. These flies can be a nuisance in the kitchen as they crawl on dishes and onto people.

However, gnats are typically drawn to the smell of rotting food, so taking care of any leftover food will help eliminate these pesky insects.

Fruit flies attracted to a ripe banana in the kitchen

Fruit Flies vs Gnats

Let us learn about the striking differences between these two insects in this section.

Gnat Identification

Numerous gnat species differ in color, shape, and even lifestyle. I’ll go over the most common gnats that can appear at home and are commonly confused with fruit flies.

Color: The color varies from grey to black. Grey gnats are the most common around houses.

Size: They are only about 1/16 inch long. As a result, if you see tiny flies near pools, they are most likely gnats.

Lifecycle: Before a gnat can be called a mature insect, it must pass through three stages, beginning with eggs, then larvae, and finally pupae. It’s an interesting fact that when it’s warm outside, these insects tend to grow faster. Female gnats lay hundreds of eggs all at once. These insects typically live for about 2-3 weeks.

Food: Blood is the primary source of nutrition for mature gnats. They are one of the most well-known parasites responsible for spreading diseases and infections. Other gnat species, however, feed on crop pests and plants.

A gnat with its grey-black appearance

Fruit Fly Identification

Let’s look at how the fruit flies look and what they eat. Let’s compare their characteristic features with those of gnats.

Color: Fruit flies are nearly the same color as gnats. Their color scheme ranges from tan to brown-black to brown-yellow.

Size: The mature insect measures about 1/8 inch long. When comparing gnats to fruit flies, it is important to note that they have a much larger body size.

Lifecycle: The fruit fly life cycle is divided into four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and mature insect. The female fruit fly can lay up to 500 eggs at once. Fruit flies have a shorter lifespan than gnats, lasting about one to two weeks.

Food: Fruit flies enjoy the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other organic matter. These flies do not feed on the blood of humans or animals.

A fruit fly with its tiny body and red eyes

Are there fruit flies in your drains?

Drain flies are commonly mistaken for fruit flies, as they both live in moist environments. However, there are a few key distinctions between these two types of flies. Drain flies have longer antennae, and their wings are held horizontally over their abdomens.

A gnat on a muddy breeding ground

On the other hand, fruit flies have shorter antennae, and their wings are held at a 45-degree angle to their bodies. Additionally, drain fly larvae primarily feast on bacteria and organic matter, whereas fruit fly larvae eat yeast and other sugary things.

Drain flies breed and live in dirty water, so they are often found in drains and garbage disposals. They can also be found near compost piles or pet food bowls. So, the flies near drains are not fruit flies.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies and Gnats?

By using some simple methods, you can easily eliminate these flies. You can use these five most effective methods, highlighted below. If you have a severe infestation of these pests, you may need to use more than one of these methods to get rid of them.

Apple cider vinegar trap

You can combine a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon of sugar in a mixing bowl.

Place your bowl in a gnat or fruit fly-infested area, such as your kitchen or bathroom. The combination of sugar and apple cider vinegar attracts these flies and eventually drowns them.

Use bleach

If you see gnats or fruit flies near your kitchen sink or bathtub, pour a cup of diluted bleach down the drains to kill them. This solution is highly effective for getting rid of gnats as they breed near the drain.

Fruit trap

You can use perforated plastic wrap to cover a jar of rotting fruit. Fruit flies and gnats will enter the jar and become trapped inside. They will eventually die due to the lack of oxygen.

Clean the surfaces

The simplest step in eliminating fruit flies and gnats is to clean the surfaces. Wipe down all countertops thoroughly. Keep away food particles and residue out of sink drains as much as possible. If you don’t, these areas will become ideal breeding grounds for fruit flies and gnats.

Vinegar and dish soap

Try adding three drops of dish soap to a bowl of vinegar and leaving it uncovered. When these flies come in contact with the solution, they sink and drown as the soap reduces the surface tension of the vinegar.

Final Thoughts

While both fruit flies and gnats are extremely annoying little pests, especially when they infiltrate your home, they are not the same.

When deciding how to deal with these tiny pests, it’s important to know which one you’re dealing with because different extermination methods will work better depending on the type of fly you have.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.