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What is a gnat?

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Quick Answer

A gnat is a small winged fly that belongs to the same suborder as mosquitoes. They are characterized by long legs, small bodies and weak flying abilities. Gnats can be biting or nonbiting and may feed on insects, plants or blood. Species include eye gnats, fungus gnats and black gnats.

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What is a gnat?
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Full Answer

Gnats breed in large swarms over streets or fields at night, and the larvae grow in moist areas. While gnats are a pest to humans, and some species destroy crops, the majority of gnats provide a benefit to the environment. Gnats are important pollinators and serve as a food source for birds and other insects. Black gnats may feed on animal blood and can spread infectious diseases. For this reason, etymologists work to keep gnat populations under control in susceptible areas.

To prevent gnats in and around the house, clear clogged drains, and avoid having standing water in areas near the house. Leave potted plants outdoors, and avoid leaving standing water in indoor potted plants. Remove gnats from indoor areas, including windows, using a vacuum cleaner. Do not wear sweet smelling perfumes or lotions when spending time outdoors in the summer to avoid attracting gnats. Other methods of gnat removal include electric fly traps and sticky surface traps.

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