What is the best gnat repellent? While natural solutions are considered to be of lower toxicity, they work for a shorter period of time and are less potent. We recommend you to choose a time-proven DEET repellent. In concentrations of no more than 30%, they are safe and can be applied to children. Then, check the label to see how long the solution will last and how many applications will be needed. More durable repellents are certainly preferable. Another factor to consider is the product’s user-friendliness. It should be sweat-resistant, odorless and should not leave stains. Finally, keep in mind that branded products are generally of high quality and can be trusted. We believe that Sawyer Products Premium Ultra 30% DEET Insect Repellent meets these criteria best.
Why have we chosen it? This repellent is produced by Sawyer, a US-based company with a global mission. It boasts a 30-year experience in the market for outdoor protection products, including a large product line of insect repellents. This product is effective against gnats and many other pests. The active ingredient is DEET at a concentration of 30%. This means that the product is safe and can be applied to children. The repellent lasts for up to 11 hours and will be helpful during long-lasting outdoor activities. It is resistant to sweat due to a special liposome technology. The lotion is comfortable to the skin and odorless.
What You Should Know About Gnats
Gnats are tiny insects that generally fly in large quantities and are considered to be pests. Some species are biting, while others are just nuisance pests. The most annoying ones are so-called eye gnats that feed on liquid secretions from the eyes.
There is also a variety of fungus gnats, which cause damage to plants and seedlings. They occur in damp areas and show that there is excessive water in the garden or lawn. Fungus gnats feed on rotten roots and, therefore, are attracted to the plants that have been immersed in water for a long time. The first thing you should know about this species is that overirrigation is likely to cause a gnat issue.
Fungus gnats can also appear indoors, thriving on roots of overwatered potted plants or attracted by other sources of moisture causing mold. The major problem with an indoor gnat infestations is that, unlike the outdoor ones, they are not seasonal. This means that the source of the infestation is in the building, not outside it, and is harder to eliminate.
Outdoors, gnats are typically active in the summer and live close to moist areas. These pests live no more than a month but they produce great amounts of new ones — up to 300 eggs per female. The females lay eggs over standing water and in a few days, new little gnats are hatched. The hatched pests spend most of their lives in the larval and pupal stages, with adult gnats living no more than 10 days. Adults are dark-colored and about 1/16-1/8 inches in length. Some fungus gnats are not good flyers and have well-developed long legs.
How to Prevent Gnats Indoors and Outdoors
The best way to avoid a gnat problem is to prevent these pests from nesting in your area. How? Quite simply, all you need to do is to eliminate the source of moisture. Depending on the type of infestation, you may take some of the suggested measures suggested by entomologist Michael Waldvogel:
Outdoor Gnat Infestation
If you see gnats mostly in summer, this indicates that their nest is outdoors. Inspect your yard and lawn near the house to find out moist areas. Pay attention to mulched and landscaped areas. You may solve this problem by reducing irrigation or drying the soil. The best way to do that is to cover the soil with dry organic material like wood chips so that it could absorb the excess moisture. Mr. Waldvogel recommends repairing leaks and fixing drainage problems.
Indoor Gnat Infestation
If your gnat problem persists when the weather gets cold, then you are dealing with indoor gnat infestation. According to the expert, the following measures may help in this case.
- Check household plants. If the soil in the pots is wet, drain the water and dry the soil. The latter can be achieved by exposing the potted plants to direct sunlight outdoors. After that, try to water your household plants less frequently.
- Inspect the kitchen and bathrooms to see whether there are leaks or other sources of moisture.
- Check other places that can be a source of moisture, especially roofs and crawl spaces. You may also use light traps to see whether there is a gnat infestation. These insects are attracted to the light and you can take advantage of this. After revealing all potential sites for infestation, seal the crevices and clean the area.
Types of Gnat Repellents
When dealing with eye gnats, you may use a typical mosquito repellent. These are DEET or Picaridin-based sprays and lotions. They can even come as towelettes, like Off Deep Woods Insect Repellent Wipes. According to experts at UC Cooperative Extension San Diego Co, these repellents can provide only temporary relief but they do work. That said, they do not recommend applying chemicals — even the most potent ones — to the soil as a way to deter fungus gnats. This is because it is hard for an insecticide to reach gnat larvae beneath the soil. Still, you may deter adults using insecticides like Summit Mosquito and Gnat Barrier. Use this Permethrin-based solution to spray fences, plants and other surfaces.
Of all insect repellents that work against biting pests, DEET is considered to be the most effective solution. DEET-based products last longer and are more powerful than other solutions. Keep in mind that DEET repellents come in various concentrations, however, the recommended percentage of DEET in a repellent is about 30-35%. Any higher concentration does not make the product more effective while increasing the risk of side effects. If you are going to apply a repellent to children, make sure that the maximum DEET concentration in the product is more than 30%, as it is in Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent.
Natural Gnat Repellents
The major downside to chemical repellents is that they can cause a range of side effects, including skin irritation and dizziness. But that’s no reason to give up. You may opt for natural repellents, which are less effective but more safer for humans. Griffin Dill, a pest management professional at the University of Maine, says that oil of lemon eucalyptus is one of the gnat repellents that actually work.
According to him, products containing this active ingredient can be as effective as those with a 30% concentration of DEET. The main disadvantage of such repellents is that they are a short-term solution and evaporate faster than chemical ones. Also, while being safer than DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus still has some side effects like eye irritation. You may try a popular pump spray based on this ingredient from the trusted Repel brand.
Another option is Harris Swamp Gnat Repellent containing the oils of lemongrass, geranium, soybean, and rosemary. This product was formulated specifically for gnats and is pesticide-free. Other natural gnat repellents include dryer sheets and pine oil, but their effectiveness is questionable. Some people place fans outside the house to keep gnats away.
Some producers offer ultrasonic insect repellers as a safe alternative to insecticides, both chemical and natural ones. One of the illustrative examples is an ultrasonic pest repeller from Neatmaster, a brand of electric pest control products. These devices are pet-friendly, odorless and inaudible to humans. They work by sending ultrasonic waves that are supposed to keep insects away.
However, it is not that simple. Jeffrey Hahn from the University of Minnesota Extension, warns that there is no scientific study proving that ultrasonic repellents work against flying pests. So it’s up to you to decide whether to give an ultrasonic repellent a try as an absolutely safe solution with questionable efficiency.
TOP-5 Best Gnat Repellents
Below, you will find a review of the five best gnat repellents on the market at a price ranging from $5 to $50. Depending on your needs, you may choose a powerful chemical solution or a safer natural one. Pick a repellent for personal protection or an insecticide for treating large areas of the yard. If you are a fan of new technologies, you may try an ultrasonic repeller.
1. Sawyer Products Premium Ultra 30% DEET Insect Repellent
This product represents a balanced solution. While being very effective against a variety of flying pests including gnats, this repellent has only a 30% DEET concentration. There are other commercially available repellents that contain as much as 90% of DEET, but it is not actually their strong side. In fact, any concentration of this chemical above 35% does not make it more potent. But this definitely makes it more toxic. This repellent can be safely applied to children — given you strictly follow the label directions — and does the job well.
The repellent is great for outdoor activities as its effect lasts for up to 11 hours. Moreover, the product’s efficiency will not decrease with sweating. So whether you are going hiking or planning a camping or want to host an outdoor party, this stuff will give you much-needed long-lasting protection. The solution does not leave stains and is not greasy. Nor does it have an unpleasant smell. Customers recommend this product as a gnat repellent. One buyer says that she spends a lot of time working outside and this is the only thing that has stopped gnats.
Sawyer: Check the current price
2. Hot Shot 100046114 No-Pest Strip
This solution can both repel and kill gnats. The active ingredient is Dichlorvos, an organophosphate that is often applied to household pests. The chemical is effective but quite toxic. Dichlorvos is banned in the EU but not in the USA, however, the EPA has canceled some uses of this insecticide. This product is based on the technology that gradually releases an insecticidal vapor that kills insects and repels survivors. This repellent is a long-lasting solution that can keep gnats away for up to four months.
Another strong point of this repellent is the ease of use. You do not have to deal with smelly liquids and smearing substances. This option is clean and has a convenient hang-on design. One strip will cover an enclosed space with a size of up to 130 square feet. You can hang these strips in the room, attic or garage but do not place it in food preparation areas.
Purchasers say that the insecticide kills gnats and really helps to get rid of them indoors. One of the customer bought it to place in the lady’s room, where they had a gnat problem. According to him, it worked and all the gnats are gone now. The only disadvantage he mentioned was a strong smell for the first two days. Another satisfied buyer has purchased Hot Shot strips for his restaurant and claims that there has seen a huge difference in 24 hours after application. “Gnats are gone!”, he concluded.
Hot Shot: Check the current price
3. Black Flag Outdoor Fogging Insecticide
This insecticide is not actually good at killing gnats but has a decent repelling effect. It is intended to be used with a fogger, which is a device that creates mist from the insecticide. The major strong point of fogging is area coverage. You spray an insecticidal mist into the air and its particles fall on vegetation and other exposed surfaces. We recommend you to use this insecticide if you cannot identify the sites of gnat infestation or want to target clouds of gnats hovering around.
The product is more expensive than other ones on our list, but it is cost-efficient. For about $50, you will get three 64-ounce canisters containing a ready-to-use insecticide from a well-known brand. Generally, the insecticidal fog disperses within 5 minutes while the repelling effect lasts for up to six hours.
Black Flag: Check the current price
4. REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
It does not surprise me that this repellent has gained about 6,000 customer ratings. Unlike many other natural solutions, this one is cheap and one bottle will cost you just $5. The active ingredient is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, an extract derived from the leaves of the same-name tree. Then, the substance was chemically synthesized and mixed with other inert ingredients. This repellent has a 30% concentration of oil of lemon eucalyptus.
The producer claims that this product will keep insects away for up to 6 hours and creates a barrier against flying pests. The repellent has a refreshing odor, so it is not just useful but also nice-smelling. Another advantage of this product is that it is not greasy or sticky when applied to the skin. Due to its pump design, the insecticide is easy to apply as it can spray upside down. Do not apply the solution to small children and pets because it can work as an irritant.
REPEL: Check the current price
5. Neatmaster Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
This product will help you deal only with indoor infestations. The device emits bionic, electromagnetic, and ultrasonic waves, affecting the insect’s nervous system. It is easy to use and install. Just plug the repeller in a socket and choose the appropriate setting: bionic waves for minor infestations, electromagnetic waves for modest infestations and ultrasound mode for heavy infestations. The repeller covers an area of up to 1200 sq ft and, therefore, can be recommended for large rooms and other enclosed spaces. Keep in mind that ultrasound does not penetrate through the walls, so you will need to mount it in all rooms in your house to keep gnats away.
The manufacturer promises that this ultrasonic repeller will eliminate a pest infestation within a month. It does not kill insects but makes the environment unfavorable for them to live in. The device is said to repel a variety of pests and customers claim it works great on gnats as well. One buyer, Allen, says that he installed the device in the living room where he used to see gnats flying around. Since then, he has not seen a gnat there.
Neatmaster: Check the current price