Making your compost for gardening helps you recycle your food waste and fertilize your plants simultaneously.
However, gnat invasion can be an annoying addition to your organic compost, whether you keep the pile indoors or out.
Once the gnats take over your sustainably produced compost, you need to be fully prepared with traps and ideas to deal with them.
You may have to incorporate more time in your garden, but you can keep the gnats successfully out of your compost by making a few minor changes.
When to take action against gnats
The gnats, also known as fruit flies, are not particularly harmful to the compost or soil.
Most of the time, you can ignore them if only a few of them are flying here and there.
The real problem begins when they are swarming around your compost pile in clouds.
Then, you need to take severe actions against gnats to get rid of them.
It is always better to take the required preventive measures when you start spotting gnats in your garden or near the compost pile.
Once you leave them to feed off your garden, they can multiply in numbers faster than you can imagine.
Once that stage is there, they will be targeting the fruit bowl on your kitchen counter and the tomato vines in your fresh vegetable garden in no time.
So, the key is to spot them early and take specific actions to prevent their population from growing.
So how do you keep gnats out of your compost?
You can try several tips and tricks to keep the gnats out of the compost. Here are a few of them:
Compost with a proper ratio
The fruit flies are only attracted to the decomposing fruits and vegetables in your garden compost.
The best way to keep the gnats out of compost is by increasing the ratio of brown to green compost.
The brown materials should at least be double that of the greens.
The brown materials can include many things, including dried leaves, hay, sawdust, uninked paper, dryer lint, unwaxed cardboard, and paper bags.
When you add these items to your green compost, it will dry it out significantly. This, in turn, will force the gnats to steer clear of your compost pile and garden plants.
The insects don’t like to feed on the brown materials, so you can even keep your compost pile without any lid if you try this method yourself.
However, remember to layer the top of your compost with only brown items so that no organic good is out in the open to feed on.
Use a tightly sealed compost bin
If you live in an area with high humidity, you must keep your compost pile covered.
The best way to do this is by using a tightly sealed compost bin.
You can also use an airtight container if you don’t have a compost bin.
The idea is to keep the moisture in so that the fruit flies don’t get attracted to your compost.
Keep the lid tight, especially when you add fresh greens to the bin.
You can also drill some small holes in the lid of the bin to allow air to circulate while keeping the gnats out.
Keep your kitchen scraps sealed
Another way to prevent gnats from getting to your compost bin is by keeping your kitchen scraps sealed.
You can do this in several ways, including airtight bags and containers.
This will keep the fruit flies away from your kitchen waste and make it easy for you to add them to the compost bin when needed.
You can also keep the kitchen scraps in the fridge until you’re ready to add them to the compost.
This will help slow down the decomposition process and prevent gnats from being attracted to them.
Set up a fruit fly trap
If your compost is adequately balanced and the gnats are still flying around your garden, you can buy or set up a homemade fruit fly trap.
There are several kinds of gnat traps to choose from.
However, we recommend you try more than one of the following traps at your home to see which one works more efficiently to trap gnats.
Trap #1 – Liquid soap and apple cider vinegar mix
Gnats are strongly attracted to the scents of apple cider vinegar and soap. You can use this to your advantage and make a fruit fly trap that is sure to work.
To construct this trap, you need to follow these instructions:
- Pour apple cider vinegar into a small bowl, filling it until one-third full.
- Drop ten drops of liquid soap into the vinegar-filled bowl.
- Mix some water into the bowl and stir until a foamy lather is formed.
- Now, set the bowl where you have spotted the most gnats in your garden or near the compost pile.
The gnats will promptly fly towards the bowl because of the combined appealing scents of vinegar and soap.
When they settle on top of the liquid mixture, they will immediately get trapped inside the bowl in the foam.
Trap #2 – Mashed bananas with vinegar
Gnats are attracted to rotten fruits as much as to strong-scented vinegar. You can efficiently trap the fruit flies by following the given instructions:
- Mash two bananas in a bowl. Try to use a disposable bowl so you can safely throw the bowl in the trash after the trap has captured the gnats.
- Mix in two tablespoons of vinegar with the mashed bananas. You can use any kind of vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is preferred because of its unfiltered and raw variety.
- After mixing the ingredients, wrap the bowl with a plastic cover.
- Now, make small holes (big enough openings so that the gnats can enter the bowl but can’t fly out) in the wrapped cover.
Once the gnats are lured into the bowl, they wouldn’t be able to escape because of the plastic cover wrapped on top.
Trap #3 – Liquid soap, sugar, milk, and black pepper combo
Everything in this trap drastically attracts the gnats. Follow these simple steps to capture the fruit flies:
- Take a small bowl and add half a cup of milk to it.
- Add two tablespoons of granulated sugar into the bowl.
- Now, heat the bowl in the microwave oven for a minute. Stir it occasionally to dissolve the sugar in the milk.
- After the milk is heated, add two to three tablespoons of liquid soap and stir it roughly to make a foamy texture on top.
- Sprinkle some black pepper on the foam and place the bowl near the gnats’ central traffic area.
The lather formed on the top layer because the soap will stick the flies into the mixture, effectively trapping them in.
You can test these gnats’ traps and select the winner based on the ultimate results.
Lime the Compost
Raising the pH level of compost is another way of ridding the gnats of the compost.
To increase the compost’s acidic level, you can add lemon juice, citrus peels, or pine needles.
However, it would be best to get a soil pH meter to check the compost’s pH level, as too much acid can be bad for your plants’ growth.
It would also help to check what plants you are growing in your garden and how much acidic compost they can tolerate for a ravishing growth.
Most plants can generally thrive in the 6.0 to 7.5 pH range.
Combine the compost with herbs and spices powder
Gnats tend to stay away from the spots where herbs and spices are sprinkled. That’s one way homeowners deal with the gnat invasion inside their homes.
You can take that method to the outside and add some herbs and spices powder to the compost to deter the gnats away.
Try this method with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.
You wouldn’t have to worry about affecting the compost quality as it will not upset your plants’ growth.
Handle the scraps in the compost
Preventive measures can effectively block the potential gnat invasion in your compost pile or gardens.
Adding the scraps into your compost attracts the flies in the first place.
You can prevent that by making the fermentation produce less accessible to the gnats.
When you add the kitchen scraps into your garden compost, wrap them up in butcher paper before mixing.
Another way is to boil the kitchen scraps before adding them to the compost. By doing this, you will be making your compost a gnats-free zone.
Add coffee and tea wastes
Mixing coffee and tea wastes in the compost works to benefit the soil in your garden, providing added fertilizers and nutrition.
It also repels all insects and pests out of the way as its smell makes the compost less attractive to them.
Splash with the boiling hot water
Another way of ridding your compost of the gnats is by pouring some boiling hot water into the compost pile.
Splash your compost thoroughly with steaming water, and then shut off the container’s lid tightly to hold in the heat.
The heat inside the container will instantly kill the gnats living in there and their eggs.
You can try this method a few times a week to ensure no fruit flies are breeding there.
Use vanilla extract
One of the rarest but effective ways to handle gnats is exposing them to the scene of vanilla.
You can safely add some vanilla extract to the compost, and it will help deter the fruit flies away to a certain extent.
If possible, you can also spray a light coating of vanilla essence on your plants from time to time to steer them clear of gnats.
Either natural vanilla extract or an imitated product can work well.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth
Lastly, you can sprinkle some diatomaceous earth (DE) on your compost pile and mix it well.
The DE is a natural insect repellent that will help deter the gnats from your compost and garden plants.
This white powder is made of fossilized remains of algae-like organisms. It punctures the exoskeleton of insects, eventually killing them.
You can find this product in most hardware stores, and it is safe for both humans and pets.
How do I stop gnats from breeding in my compost?
If you’re a gardener, you’ve had to deal with pesky gnats at some point or another.
These tiny flies are attracted to rotting organic matter, making compost an ideal breeding ground.
Luckily, you can take a few simple steps to prevent gnats from taking over your compost pile.
First, make sure that your compost is adequately aerated. Gnats need moist conditions to lay their eggs, so keeping the compost slightly dry will help to discourage them.
Cover your compost pile with a layer of grass clippings or straw. This will help to keep the moisture in and the gnats out.
Finally, don’t add any new material to the compost pile until the previous batch has had a chance to decompose.
How can I prevent gnats from invading my garden?
Gnats can be a real nuisance in the garden, as they are attracted to the moist soil where plants are growing. They are a nuisance, but they can also spread diseases to your plants.
There are a few things you can do to prevent gnats from invading your garden:
- Make sure that you regularly water your plants. This will help keep the soil moist, making it less attractive to gnats.
- Avoid using any kind of fertilizer in your garden. Gnats are attracted to the nutrients in fertilizer, so using it will only worsen the problem.
- Consider using a pesticide to kill any gnats already present in your garden. This may not be the most natural solution, but it can effectively prevent an infestation.
What herbs and spices deter gnats?
Herbs and spices can be a great way to deter gnats. Some of the most effective herbs include basil, mint, rosemary, and lavender.
These herbs smell great, but they also contain essential oils that repel gnats. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper also effectively deter gnats.
Simply sprinkle these spices around your home or office, and you should see a noticeable reduction in the number of gnats.
You can also make a spray by combining 1 teaspoon of these spices with 1 cup of water.
Just be sure to shake the mixture well before each use. With a bit of creativity, you can keep your home gnat-free.
Is there a “best” way to create compost moving forward?
My friend John is a bit of a compost perfectionist. He’s constantly tweaking and adjusting his pile to make sure it’s perfect. I swear, he spends more time on his compost than he does on his garden!
Anyway, one day I was over at his house, and he mentioned these two things to remember if you want to make perfect compost:
- Make sure your compost pile is in a sunny spot. The sun will help speed up the decomposition process.
- Keep your compost pile moist but not too wet. The ideal moisture content is around 60%.
But in reality, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to create compost will vary depending on your individual circumstances.
Personally, I would recommend using a combination of methods to avoid bugs like gnats.
This could include aerating the compost, adding a layer of straw or grass clippings, and using spices and herbs to deter pests.
By using a combination of these methods, you should be able to create compost that is free of gnats and other pests.
What attracts gnats?
Gnats are attracted to various things, including the carbon dioxide we exhale, the heat our bodies give off, and even the color of our clothing. They are especially drawn to areas with standing water, such as puddles, ponds, and damp soil. So, if you’re trying to avoid gnats, it’s best to stay out of wet or humid areas and wear light-colored clothing. In addition, you can try using fans or other devices to create a breeze, which will help keep gnats away.
How can I keep gnats away from my food?
First, keep all food covered until it is ready to be eaten. Gnats are attracted to the smell of food, so covering dishes will help to keep them at bay. You can also try setting out a container of sugar water or apple cider vinegar, which gnats will be drawn to instead of your food. Finally, remember to keep your trashcan sealed tightly; otherwise, gnats will be attracted to the scent of garbage.
What kind of plants repel gnats?
Citronella, for example, is well-known for its ability to repel mosquitoes. But did you know that it can also deter gnats? Another plant that can be effective against gnats is lavender, and its strong scent confuses them and makes it difficult for them to find their way back to their host plant. Basil, sage, and rosemary are also effective at repelling gnats.