Updated February 26, 2022 by Mark Marino
There are some expressions of life on earth that are simply baffling. Mosquitos are the best example of this. Most lifeforms are a necessary part of the circle of life, but even experts in the field of bug science agree that if mosquitos disappeared tomorrow that life would only be better for the rest of life on earth.
Gnats can feel this way sometimes. They are tiny, invasive, and more annoying than anything. The worst part about them is that they can devour your houseplants. It will never happen quickly but give them an inch of grass and they will eat a mile. So, how do you get rid of these gnats from your houseplants?
The best way to get rid of gnats is by convincing them that your plants are not worth the trouble. Gnats are different than flies, as flies come to plants looking for all their survival needs while gnats are just looking for food. But similar to flies, you can use a gnat’s sense of smell to trick it into going away.
Using Cinnamon To Scare Gnats Away From Your Plants
“Scare” is not exactly the right word, but it is not far off. The thing about this solution is that you have to understand how a gnat works to understand why the solution works.
Like many other bugs, gnats navigate by a sense that humans consider similar to their own sense of smell. Strictly speaking, it is not precisely the same sense, but it is close enough. Much of organic life has similar but different senses like this, and it really speaks to the incredible diversity of life on this planet.
The reason so many bugs navigate in this way is that it lets them know where other bugs have been. Therefore, no bug has to really think or decide for themselves in regards to where it is safe to fly and where it is unsafe. More importantly, it means they can detect food, water, and shelter with tremendous ease.
Imagine if you could always smell other humans’ breath, even up to a mile away. You would have a pretty keen idea as to what kind of food was in any given area with this ability. The downside is, if you smell the food you do not like, you might end up never going a particular direction. That is the idea behind the cinnamon solution.
Here is what you do: Start by mixing some cinnamon with some dish soap. This will create a kind of spicy gel, which you can place at the top edge and bottom edge of your houseplant’s pot. This will keep bugs from climbing up the sides, as well as keep them from trying to worm their way in from the bottom.
The mixture of dish soap to cinnamon should be three parts cinnamon and one part dish soap. The goal is to get the cinnamon to stick to the edges of the pot while still keeping the cinnamon the dominant scent.
Once you have done that, sprinkle some raw cinnamon on the dirt of your plants. This will not have any negative impact on the plants, and it will probably scare off any parasites that are currently living in the plants. The soil and the plants will eventually consume the cinnamon, so be sure to replace it every two weeks or so.
As long as you are keeping your windows closed and your plants protected, gnats will eventually lose interest in them altogether. Gnats do not have a good enough memory to remember that your plants tend to be covered in cinnamon, however. If you are in an environment with consistent exposure to gnats, keep using this method.
Using cinnamon on your plants is a “primary method” of warding off gnats as it involves doing something to your plants directly. Secondary methods are methods that involve modifying the environment around your plants, rather than doing anything to the plants themselves. These can be just as if not more important.
The most obvious ones are the ones that involve insulating your plants against gnats in the first place. This may sound obvious but putting mesh screens or mosquito nets around your plants might mean the difference between them living and dying.
You can also use bug spray on the pathways gnats take to get into your home. This means spraying down the windows, particularly along the edges of the windows that the gnats have the pass by to make their entrance.
Will Honey Traps Work On Gnats?
This is a common question, and the answer is commonly yes.
Assembling the honey trap will involve a lot of tapes and a little patience. What you will need to do is take that top of the plastic bottle you have and tape it upside down to your bowl. Your goal is to tape it to the bowl in such a way that you are completely covering the bowl. Use a jar if you have one and it makes things easier.
The essential goal here is to create a situation where the only way “in” or “out” of the bowl is by the opening at the top of the plastic bottle. The rest of the bowl and bottle should be sealed tight.
If you do not have many tapes or do not want to use much, you can also use plastic wrap. The structure of your trap does not need to be that strong. It just needs to be airtight so the only pathway into and out of the bowl is the opening provided by the plastic bottle top. This is where you will insert the honey part of the trap.
Pour a good amount of honey into the bowl through the opening of the plastic bottle top. If you get any on the sides of the plastic bottle, wash it off with water and no soap. Part of the idea behind this trap is to use the scent of honey as a way to attract flies. That means cleaning chemicals will mask the smell, so avoid them.
Once the honey is set, the trap is set, and you are good to go. This is not as effective against gnats as flies, as gnats are not as attracted to honey as flies are. But it is better than nothing.