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Mosquitoes vs. Gnats – What’s the difference and how to control them

Belonging to the same suborder, it’s no wonder mosquitoes and gnats are commonly confused. In this article, we’ll break down some key differences  and how to control them.

What we will learn:

  • Common mosquito identifier
  • Mosquito appearance
  • Gnat appearance
  • Difference in bites
  • The “Buffalo Gnat”
  • Control Advice

Difference in Appearance

Some subspecies of gnats, such as black flies or eye gnats, have large oval-like bodies with short and pointy antennae. Others have elongated bodies, hairy antennae and long, tear shaped wings. These are the buggers we are focused on, and the ones likely causing the confusion.

While gnats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, mosquitoes are much more consistent in appearance and have a common identifier that isn’t shared with the gnat. Most mosquitoes have light colored stripes on the abdomen, wings and/or legs. Though a “fungus gnat” shares many similarities, it doesn’t have the striping on any body part.  Undoubtedly, this is the easiest way to tell the difference in appearance between a mosquito and a gnat.

Difference in bites

Nobody enjoys getting bitten, especially when it includes a special delivery of malaria or EEE. Female mosquitoes are responsible for their spread (among others) by feeding on the blood of diseased humans and animals, and transmitting the vector-borne diseases in the process.  Their male counterparts are happy feeding on plant juices, such as nectar.

A mosquito bite is flat, welted looking and itchy to touch. Though the appearance can vary, the mark flattens and becomes less itchy over time.

As for gnats, not all species bite. Black flies are the most common biters and are seen as more than just a nuisance in rural parts of the United States, even killing livestock and wild animals.

Commonly referred to as “buffalo gnats”, they leave tiny red bumps in small feeding areas along the skin. They use their sawtooth cutters located in their mouths to rip open the skin, feeding from the wound. They are not known to carry vectors, however the open wounds can lead to disease and the “eye gnat” has been known to transmit conjunctivitis between hosts.

Mosquito and Gnat Control Tips

Mosquitoes and gnats need water for their larvae to survive. While mosquitoes require still water, gnats can lay their eggs in anything from moist soil to flowing water. A good practice is to empty any water sources at the end of the day. This includes tarps, buckets and other water collectors. Bird baths are known breeding grounds, especially for mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes and gnats are some of the most persistent backyard breeders. For this reason we recommend a professional, locally owned mosquito control company that knows how to suppress disease carrying insect populations. Having a beautiful backyard is a waste if you can’t use it without risking the wellbeing of your family and pets.

At Mosquito Mary’s, we believe you deserve to enjoy the outdoors again! ®

In our business, it’s easy to throw the words “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” on marketing materials and call it a day. But at Mosquito Mary’s, we’re so confident about the effectiveness of our Customized Barrier Spray Mosquito Control, our guarantee is actually a thing. We will go the extra mile to make sure your mosquito and gnat control service is the best it can be. 

Not 98%, not 99%. One hundred percent satisfaction. Anything less is not an option.

Give Mosquito Mary’s a call at (866) ASK-MARY and start to enjoy the outdoors again, today!


Photos courtesy:

Dark Winged Fungus Gnat by Katja Shulz

“Mosquito bite4” by ngari.norway

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