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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

A Gnat by any Other Name (AKA: Soapbox time)

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, in a damp area not far from here, was a gnat. Let’s call him Gary.

Say hello to Gary the Gnat

What is a gnat, you may ask. That’s a great question. Hold on a sec while I go get my soapbox.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GNAT. People use the term all the time to describe nearly any small fly they find in nearly any situation. This is a problem because there are lots of species of small flies that can be found in many different areas. Garry could be a fruit fly (also called vinegar flies), Phorid fly (AKA coffin or humpbacked flies), moth fly (sometimes called drain flies), fungus gnat, and many more. All of these flies, though similar in size and sometimes shape, have different feeding and breeding preferences.

I said this was a story, so here’s chapter two: Gary was found in the kitchen.

Commercial or residential you may ask. That’s a great question. No soapbox necessary but since I’m already up on mine...

Gary? Are you there?

YES it makes a difference. Commercial kitchens (and food processing sites) have so much more going on than residential kitchens. Do you prepare and cook food for 12+ hours a day in your home? Do you wash down the floors of your home kitchen daily and do you have open drains on your floor? Commercial kitchens are much more complicated when it comes to small fly issues because there are just many more food sources for them, more habitat, and more hiding spots. This is why identifying Gary is so important so the inspection can immediately focus on the prime habitat spots. Even in residential situations, it can get complicated. The problem may not be in the kitchen but may be coming from a nearby bathroom, basement, or other room where it is damp and there is a food source. If Gary is in a residential kitchen, his family is likely there in the kitchen. If Gary is in a residential kitchen, there’s a better than even chance he came from someplace nearby.

Continuing the story, chapter three: Gary needs to go!

Does treatment differ you ask, they are all pretty much all the same, right? (Checking to see if I’m still up on the soapbox…yep):

WRONG… (okay, sort of!) Sure, they are all filth breeders, and yes, the sanitation issue they are breeding in needs to go. Getting the drains cleaned and the rotting produce out and the infested potting soil removed is important. From the aspect of sanitation as a “treatment”, yes, sanitation has to be done or the Gary problem is never going to be fully resolved. The difference in treatment comes down to long term prevention and placement. In a residence, it’s knowing which drain is the problem for drain flies and constantly monitoring to treat when necessary. In the office where the potted plants are constantly being overwatered no matter how many times they’ve been asked not to: it’s nearby traps to contain and reduce. In the commercial kitchen, it’s monitoring their produce and treating resting spots nearby.


The “gnat” isn’t just a small fly. It is a specific species, coming from a specific location, feeding and breeding in a specific source. This story can have a happy ending when Gary is identified and quickly found and treatment plans but in place. If this were a choose-you-own-adventure story, there’s also the option of an unhappy ending where the issue continues to get worse because it’s “just a gnat” and “clean the drains” was the only treatment. Be the hero of this story and make sure Gary is correctly identified so the villain can be found quickly and dealt with efficiently.

Comment below with your “gnat” issues and contact us here for more info.

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