Fruit Flies vs Gnats: What’s the Difference?

You might have noticed a swarm of small flying insects around your home or office and wondered what they are. They are tiny, often almost too small to see. Are they gnats? Fruit flies?

What’s the difference between fruit flies vs gnats?

Gnats are a catch-all name for many tiny fly-like insects, including midges, black flies, and fruit flies. Fruit flies are a specific species of fly, part of the Drosophila family.

So all fruit flies are gnats, but not all gnats are fruit flies!

This article will discuss fruit flies and gnats in general, and will help you identify if you have a fruit fly infestation or some other type of gnat infestation. We’ll also discuss how to get rid of them!

Keep reading to find out more about these insects. 

Fruit Flies vs Gnats

As mentioned above, fruit flies are a specific subspecies of Drosophila. They feed on rotten fruit and often lay their eggs on and in fruit. If you’ve left your bananas out on the counter too long, you’ll often find fruit flies swarming around it… and eventually your whole kitchen!

Fruit flies do not bite humans, as they do not have mouths. However, some species of gnats do bite humans. So if your little buggers are nibbling at you, you probably don’t have a fruit fly infestation. Instead, you may have a mayfly or black fly infestation.

One noticeable thing about gnats and fruit flies is that they are both annoying insects. Because these bugs cause similar problems at home, it is easy to misidentify them.

How Do Fruit Flies Compare to other Gnats in Appearance?

The first difference between these two insects is their appearance. Although both insects are a quarter inch long, they differ in appearance. You will be able to see the difference with your naked eye. 

A fruit fly has a brownish thorax and head with red eyes. On the other hand, many other types of gnats are black with dark eyes, and look like smaller versions of the typical houseflies everybody finds from time to time.

In addition, fruit flies have wings with a black pattern which differentiates them from other gnats with small bodies making their wings appear larger. 

When it comes to most gnats’ legs, they are lanky, resembling mosquitoes’ legs. This assists gnats in flying and jumping quicker than fruit flies. 

The difference in appearance does not end there. Fruit flies are in the same family group as the common house fly, which can be seen in their body structure.

In addition, as the standard house fly has bright red eyes, so do fruit flies. However, most other types of gnats do not have visible eyes like fruit flies. 

Gnats vs Fruit Flies: Habitat

So, where do these insects come from, and where do they live?

Fruit flies love fruit, particularly rotten fruit. They are almost always found around rotting fruits, bruised tomatoes, overripe bananas, etc. They swarm around and feed on the sweet (probably slightly alcoholic) fruit sugars, and happily live and reproduce on and around your rotting fruit.

They love compost bins, and will often live in trash bins, particularly those that aren’t regularly cleaned.

Fruit flies also often live in drains, typically in the plumbing traps that sometimes have leftover food and water in them that can slowly rot.

Gnats are outdoor insects, but they can also be found around a drip drain, under a refrigeration unit, or in any other dirty and moist environment.

Moreover, gnats love hovering around moist soil, plants, and organic matter. 

Watch The Fruits and Veggies on Your Counter!

It is essential to note that fruits such as bananas, pears, and apples can easily attract fruit flies into your home. These fruit-loving insects leave their larvae on any fruit they infest.

This calls for you to carefully inspect the fruits you buy from your grocery store. 

Fruit flies can also breed in your potato bag. So, if you do not check your groceries thoroughly, you might invite some unwanted visitors to your home. 

Interestingly, scientists have found that fruit flies don’t like the color blue. Weird!

Other types of gnats mostly enter your home when you open the door, especially at night, as they are attracted to the light.

They get into your house in a bid to find the source of the light. 

In summary, fruit files and other types of gnats will quickly infest your home if there are conditions that attract them.

In summary, fruit files and other types of gnats will quickly infest your home if there are conditions that attract them.

Gnats like fungus gnats, gall gnats, etc. and mostly feed on organic plant materials and may invade your home if you do not get rid of vegetable matter and other related ingredients.

Fruit flies thrive around fruits and rotting matter such as the undesired slime in your sink drain.

Fruit Flies vs Gnats’ Lifespan

Fruit flies have a longer lifespan when compared to other gnats. They can live up to 20 days and at least a week, whereas most other gnats only live for an average of 5 to 10 days. 

The good news is that neither of these insects has a long lifespan. But in the short time they’re around, they can wreak havoc around your home. This is why you should get rid of them as quickly as possible!

How Can I Quickly Get Rid of Fruit Flies and Gnats?

Thankfully, there are several easy ways of getting rid of these flying insects around your home, and it will not cost you much. The most important method is ensuring your house is clean and free of any food or plant remains that may attract them.

You can also store your fruits and food in enclosed containers (and in the fridge) to contain their scent and keep out the insects.

However, if fruit flies and gnats have already invaded your home, you can start by making a DIY fruit fly trap or sourcing a good fly trap on the market.

When making your fly trap, use some yellow sticky traps and combine them with brightly colored paper cut into strips. Next, apply some honey on the brightly colored paper and stick the trap where you have the fruit fly or gnat infestation.

The sweet smell of honey will attract the insects, and they will be trapped in the sticky yellow trap when they come in contact with it. 

You can also use vinegar and soap to tackle fruit flies. Click here for an explainer.

The most common and effective way of getting rid of fruit flies is apple cider vinegar. First, mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap and sugar. After that, put the mixture next to where there is an infestation of fruit flies. 

Cover it and poke holes to let the flies in, but make it difficult for them to get out.

Ways of Getting Rid of Gnats Naturally

The same method for trapping fruit files will also often work for other types of gnats. Apple cider vinegar and sugar attract the gnats, and the dish soap traps them in the solution causing them to drown. 

Ways of Getting Rid of Flies Naturally

The first step to getting rid of fruit flies is removing any rotten fruit or food around your kitchen area. This is because the female fruit flies leave their eggs wherever they land.

This means you shouldn’t store ripe fruits on your kitchen counter. It would be best to thoroughly wash your fruits and store them in the fridge until you’re sure there are no more flies in your kitchen. 

Another way of naturally getting rid of these insects is by taking out your trash more frequently. Fruit flies love eating rotting foodstuff and fruits. Therefore, your trash could attract these insects to your home.

Disposing of your trash and cleaning your trashcan will ensure that no fruit flies are waiting for the next batch of waste. 

Moreover, keeping your kitchen floor and counter clean is also a sure way of keeping these insects at bay. 


All fruit flies are gnats, but not all gnats are fruit flies. Gnat is a generic term for a small fly, while a fruit fly is a specific sort of fly that is attracted to rotten fruit.

We hope we’ve cleared it up for you. If you’re not sure you have either gnats or fruit flies, it’s possible you have fleas. Click here to learn the difference between fruit flies and fleas.

Good luck managing your infestation!