Fruit flies vs. drain flies vs. fungus gnats

Home, sweet home. A place of respite, a safe harbor from your hectic daily life. Comfort, safety, and cleanliness are the main qualities of every abode. However, all three can be compromised by the presence of pests. If you are fed up with swarms of vermin taking air whenever you pass through the kitchen, read on. In this article, we will introduce you to the most common types of flies which could be free lodging in your house.


One of the differences between fruit flies, drain flies, & fungus gnat is that drain flies have hairy bodies. If you see a swarm flying above a plant, they’re gnats rather than fruit flies. The biggest differences between fruit flies, drain flies, and fungus gnats is usually where the can be found. The best ways to kill & get rid of fruit flies, drain flies, & fungus gnats are with boiling water, sticky traps, and neem oil spray.

In this article, we’ll also look at the following:

  • Products to get
  • Identifying each type

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If you’re trying to get rid of these little pests, there are some tried and tested products below that we love. After buying a house surrounded by many pools of water, I struggled with them. I was especially affected by mosquitoes. The GTOCS from the table below has been an absolute game-changer. It makes sure I don’t end up with 200 mosquito bites after spending an evening outside.

At roughly $40, the bug zapper is THE thing you’re missing at home if you don’t have one already. I would have frankly paid $100 for it easily. It’s also oddly satisfying to hear when it zaps bugs, knowing they won’t steal my blood anymore.

Best life-saving option
GTOCS Bug Zapper
Best for drain flies
Drain Treatment
Best for gnats
Garsum Sticky Houseplant Traps
GTOCS Bug Zapper, Electric Mosquito Zapper Outdoor, Insect Trap Indoor, Electronic Insect Killer for Garden Patio
Fruit Fly Goodbye Gel Drain Treatment | Drain Fly Killer | Fruit Fly Killer | Drain Flies Treatment | Fruit Flies Treatment | Drain Fly & Fruit Fly Eliminator (1 Gallon)
Garsum 21 Traps Sticky Houseplant Traps Gnat Yellow Insect Trap Indoor Fruit Fly Stakes Trap
What we love
Great against flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. Game changer for outdoor setting!
Incredibly useful for getting rid of drain flies.
Great to put in your plants and catch gnats.
Best life-saving option
GTOCS Bug Zapper
GTOCS Bug Zapper, Electric Mosquito Zapper Outdoor, Insect Trap Indoor, Electronic Insect Killer for Garden Patio
What we love
Great against flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. Game changer for outdoor setting!
Best for drain flies
Drain Treatment
Fruit Fly Goodbye Gel Drain Treatment | Drain Fly Killer | Fruit Fly Killer | Drain Flies Treatment | Fruit Flies Treatment | Drain Fly & Fruit Fly Eliminator (1 Gallon)
What we love
Incredibly useful for getting rid of drain flies.
Best for gnats
Garsum Sticky Houseplant Traps
Garsum 21 Traps Sticky Houseplant Traps Gnat Yellow Insect Trap Indoor Fruit Fly Stakes Trap
What we love
Great to put in your plants and catch gnats.

Here’s the bug zapper on my countertop. Many other models charge you $80-100 for practically the same product.

Here are some things it achieved:

  • Getting rid of a bunch of pesky creatures in my house.
  • Ensuring my guests and I don’t get eaten up by mosquitoes sitting on the back porch.
bug zapper

Table of Contents


Here’s the ultimate comparison between fruit flies, drain flies, and fungus gnats.

Fruit flies

Fruit flies bear a striking resemblance to regular flies but are much smaller.

There are many subspecies, but the ones you will most likely find buzzing around your house are the Red-Eyed Fruit Fly and the Dark-Eyed Fruit Fly. Both feature striped abdomen. The Red-Eyed flies are quite minuscule, rarely exceeding 1/8 inches. The Dark-Eyed type is a bit more robust, growing up to 3/16 inches.

As the name suggests, they are attracted to fermenting fruit. Thus, you will likely see them swarming your fruit bowl, garbage can, or recycling bin.

product to get rid of gnats

Where do they come from?

Contrary to what it seems, fruit flies do not appear out of the blue. Most commonly, they are introduced to the domestic environment via eggs present on fruit and vegetables. It is especially likely if you grow your own crops. While the lack of pesticides makes them much healthier for human consumption, it also increases the likelihood they contain their eggs.

You may think that an infestation cannot possibly begin from a couple of eggs, but you are wrong. Each female may lay up to 500 eggs, and it takes mere days for the larvae to mature. As their population grows exponentially, it is only a matter of time before they take over your kitchen.

Unfortunately, the popular myth that they do not survive for more than one day does not hold true. These flies can live up to several weeks if the conditions allow it.

Fun fact: Fruit flies are one of the model organisms widely used in science, particularly in genetics. So, even pests can sometimes be useful.

How to get rid of them

The fastest way to eradicate these pests is by buying fruit fly traps or bug sprays.

Alternatively, we provide you with this simple DIY method. First, fill a container with apple cider vinegar and cover it with plastic wrap. Secure the edges using a rubber band, then poke several holes into the wrap. The scent will lure the flies, and once they enter the trap, they cannot escape via the tiny holes.

Once done, we recommend that you take the following steps to keep them away.

The key lies in the timely disposal of stale produce. Ensure you keep your sink drain clean as they occasionally nest there. Lastly, do not leave empty soda containers lying about as they find the sweet scent alluring.

Type of Fly Appearance Habitat Diet
Fruit Fly Small, tan or yellow in color Near overripe or rotting fruit or vegetables Fruit, vegetables, and fermented liquids
Drain Fly Small, fuzzy and dark in color Around drains, sewers, and damp areas Organic material found in drains and sewers
Fungus Gnat Small, black and have long legs In damp soil, near houseplants, and in greenhouses Fungus, algae and decaying plant material

Fruit flies vs. Phorid flies

As their distant relatives, Phorid flies are commonly mistaken for fruit flies. However, it is important that you know what you’re dealing with regarding pest control. Thus, we decided to provide you with some extra information on these pests.

Sometimes called hump-backed flies, they are about the same size as fruit flies. Despite this, there are several ways to distinguish the two.

Unlike fruit flies, hump-back flies feature jet-black eyes. What’s more, their hind legs are noticeably elongated. Their wings fold much closer together.

The Phorid fly’s signature trait is its peculiar response when startled. Instead of taking flight, it will run in a zig-zag pattern across the surface. For this reason, they are sometimes called scuttle flies. On the other hand, fruit flies will almost always fly away when approached.

Although Phorid flies are also attracted to decaying produce, they are not as picky about their habitat. In some cases, they might settle in plumbing pipes or drains. If there is an unused toilet in your house, it might even be found in the bathroom.

Dealing with Phorid Flies

Prevention is the best medicine. Keep your house devoid of rotting crops and clean your kitchen drain regularly. Take out the trash whenever full, especially in warm and humid conditions.

If the above does not suffice, consider buying fly traps or insecticides. Remember that a thorough cleanout might still be required even after using these products.

Drain flies

Unlike fruit flies and gnats, drain flies look like miniature moths rather than flies. It is because their bodies and wings are covered in hair. Though about 1/8 inch long, they can be distinguished from fruit flies by their noticeably large antennae.

They are mostly light gray, sometimes tan, with dark-rimmed wings.

True to their name, they spend most of their life cycle inside of drains. Their breeding ground is the detritus which accumulates there over time. That’s also where they lay their eggs. Mature flies may leave their damp lair and settle on nearby surfaces.

How to get rid of them

To get rid of these pesky pests, you must first check which drain they reside in. Fortunately, all you need for this simple test is some duct tape. Use it to seal the drains in your house – including the ones in however many bathrooms you have. Leave it there overnight. Adults will try to escape the drain eventually, and some will be caught by the tape the next day. If this is the case, there is indeed an infestation in your house.

Luckily, we will walk you through all the steps designed to rid you of this vermin.

The cheapest resource to tackle this issue is to pour boiling water down the drain. The scalding water will not only kill whatever larvae may be lurking inside. It will also remove any detritus caught in the pipes. It is important, as the flies rely on it to thrive. For good measures, repeat this process at least once a day for a whole week for maximum efficacy.

For our eco-friendly enthusiasts, we offer two all-natural and easy-to-make mixtures to de-infest your drain. Mix baking soda with vinegar. Then, add a pinch of salt. Stir it lightly and then pour it down the drain. Leave it sitting in until the next morning. Afterward, rinse it with boiling water.

Alternatively, you can create a different concoction that will get the job done: mix water, sugar, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Add a few drops of liquid soap. Leave this tantalizing yet lethal mixture close to the drain for a couple of days. The flies will flock to it like moths to a flame and ultimately drown in this viscous mixture.

In case you don’t want to leave anything to chance, you can visit the nearest hardware store and purchase a drain cleaner. Flush your drain with warm or boiling water. Then, cleanse it thoroughly with a pipe brush. Pour it into the drain cleaner, and it should obliterate any flies and organic waste found within. Keep in mind that these products may contain caustic and toxic substances. Always follow the instructions to be safe.

Whichever method you’ve followed, don’t forget to check whether or not you eradicated the flies successfully. Reapply the duct tape. You’ve succeeded in your endeavors if little to no insects were caught.

Type of FlyPreventionTreatment
Fruit FlyKeep the kitchen clean, store fruits and vegetables properly, and cover trash cans.Use sticky traps, apple cider vinegar traps, or a mixture of dish soap and water in a spray bottle.
Drain FlyKeep drains clean, fix leaks, and use a drain coverPour boiling water down the drain, use a drain cleaner, or call a plumber to fix the problem
Fungus GnatKeep soil dry, avoid over-watering plants, and use well-draining soilUse sticky traps, neem oil spray, or insecticidal soap spray


Whether you’ve experienced drain flies in your home or not, we suggest you take the following measures to keep them away.

Drain flies thrive in pools of stagnant water, especially if filled with delicious biomass. In fact, it is for these reasons they are most frequently found in drains. Clean your pipes regularly to keep the biomass from building up. Use boiling water or chemical cleaners according to your preference.

When you leave your home for a lengthy trip, close every drain in your house with a stopper. It includes bathtubs and shower cubicles.

Aside from drains, be on the lookout for any other forms of still water present in your abode. Dirty buckets or potted plant saucers may seem particularly homey to these flies.

Do not shrug off the occasional stray fly you may find. It could be an omen of a much greater infestation lurking in your pipes. Like with all problems, it is best that you nip it in the bud.

Here’s a great budget drain cleaner to help keep these flying bastards away!


  • It helps get rid of hair also.
  • It’s a great price for drain cleaner.
  • You can’t find drain cleaner cheaper than this on Amazon.
  • It works a lot more effectively than some competing products.


  • You should always make sure to rinse with water after using a harsh chemical on pipes.


fly stick against drain flies

Fungus gnats can easily be identified by their slender bodies, akin to mosquitos. Tinier than the other two species, they are generally black or brown with sharply contrasting light legs.

Because they are bound to moist soil to develop properly, you are unlikely to see them venture far from it. They can mostly be seen swarming around the flora found in your house. Although harmless to humans, they are harmful to your plants’ root systems. They may even kill it if left unchecked.

How to get rid of them

flying insect trap

In the house

To find out where their base of operation lies, you must first check for them near all your house plants. Since mature gnats can fly, it is possible that they have expanded their territory to include other pots.

The only way to know for sure is to inspect the soil and look for their larvae. You can recognize them by their lustrous, transparent bodies. To be thorough, you might want to repot all of them and manually remove as many larvae as you while doing so.

With your houseplant successfully repotted, it is time to apply insect spray. Alternatively, you may purchase fly traps or baits, though these will take a bit longer to work their magic.

If the idea of visiting a home store rubs you the wrong way, you might use either one of the DIY traps we mentioned above. The gnats are powerless to the allure of apple cider vinegar, ultimately leading to their demise.

And now, it is time to ensure they are not reintroduced into your home. Make sure you buy only healthy plants. Check for signs of these pests whenever you are purchasing a new one. Water your plants moderately, allowing the water to sink in. If the soil looks like a marsh or you can see water flowing out of the saucer, you are watering them excessively. And finally, always clear out dead leaves from beneath your plants.


You take a lovely stroll through your garden. You take in the scenery and relish in your garden’s divine redolence. Everything is perfect until you notice tiny black bugs swarming the flowers you worked so hard to cultivate. If you found yourself in the description, then gnats have likely settled in your backyard. Not to worry, we will help you get rid of them.

If you suspect fungus gnats have taken residence in your garden, you must first find where they are nesting. They are often associated with plants afflicted with fungal diseases, so pay particular attention to these. Furthermore, they are drawn to wet soil or decomposing debris. Rotting wood, compost piles, or heaps of dead leaves are all good spots for you to check.

What exactly are you to look for, however? Though adults might swarm around numerous plants, the larvae provide you a clear sign of where they are nesting. So make sure you are thorough in your examination.

The most failsafe means of getting rid of gnats is using chemical products such as pyrethrin-based insecticides and insect growth regulators. The former decimate the adult population, while the latter makes short work of any remaining eggs and larvae.

Of course, the amount of product depends on how far the infestation has spread. Another thing to bear in mind is your safety. Since both types contain a concoction of many toxic substances, always abide by the instructions. As an extra safety measure, wear protective gear while using them.

With the unbidden residents successfully evicted, it is time to let them know they are no longer welcome in your garden.

Don’t overwater any vegetation in your yard, be it the lawn or flower beds. If you use excessive amounts of water, you effectively send them an invitation to a five-star hotel.

Remove any stagnant water from your birdbaths or filthy buckets on a daily basis.

The final step in enforcing their exile is keeping your garden clean of organic material. It holds true especially during rainy seasons, as the moisture speeds up its decay. Throw out all fallen branches and leaves as quickly as possible and keep your trash cans and composters covered with a lid at all times.


Before parting, have you made sure to do these things?

  • Get rid of organic material decaying outside
  • Keep trash cans and composters covered
  • Avoid the accumulation of excessive water
  • Find diseases plants where they nest
  • Repotting affected plants
  • Kept the kitchen clean
  • Cleaned pipes in the house
woman chasing mosquitoes

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