Small Black Flying Bugs In House That Are Not Fruit Flies?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Having a stray fly come into your house is one thing, but a full-on insect infestation is another. Insects have all kinds of cunning methods of finding their way into your home. Then they repopulate like wildfire. Fruit flies are notorious for sprouting up out of nowhere and completely taking over your kitchen. But what if you have a sudden infestation of small black flying insects in your home, but they aren’t behaving like fruit flies?

The small black flying bugs in your house are most likely fungus gnats. These insects are slightly smaller than fruit flies and resemble tiny mosquitos. They are attracted to light and damp places with mold and decay. Fungus gnats like to breed in house plant soil and underneath drains. Other small black flying insects include phorid flies, drain flies, mosquitos, and carpet beetles.

Any type of flying insect problem in your home should be addressed immediately. If you do not address an insect infestation it will likely only get worse. In order to properly treat and prevent these types of pest control issues you first need to identify exactly what type of tiny black flying insects have made their way into your home.

What Are Fungus Gnats?

Fungus gnats are tiny insects that are slightly smaller than a fruit fly. They actually look like a very small mosquito. The bugs can be found both outdoors and in homes. They love any damp area where there is moisture and decaying material.

Fungus gnats can be found in many places including potting soil, in drain pipes, and even in your child’s sandbox. Because they love moisture and decay, they are often confused with fruit flies. They are also commonly found in kitchens like fruit flies, but they can be found in many areas of your home. These bugs rapidly reproduce. This is why it is important to address your fungus gnat problem before it becomes a complete infestation.

What Do Fungus Gnats Look Like

Under a microscope, you may think a fungus gnat is some type of mosquito. Like mosquitos, they have long tall legs that they perch on top of. They are dark gray to black in color.

They are much smaller than mosquitos, however, and are even smaller than fruit flies. Normally they are between 1/16 of an inch to 1/8 of an inch long. Fungus gnats do not buzz like mosquitos do. In fact, they are not the best fliers. So when you see them they are likely not taking long flights. They prefer shorter spurts.

Distinguishing Fungus Gnats From Fruit Flies

In addition to fungus gnats being smaller than fruit flies, there are a few other notable differences. First, fruit flies are always buzzing around fruit, food, or something else that is decomposing. Fungus gnats do not have the same flying strength, so you will not see them flying nearly as much as a fruit fly.

Also, fungus gnats are mainly attracted to moisture and decay, while fruit flies are addicted to mainly produce. Fungus gnats are likely the bugs you see that look like fruit flies near your drains, plants, or in your bathroom.

Are Fungus Gnats Attracted to Light?

Like many other insects you find flying in your home, fungus gnats are attracted to light. While they lay eggs in dark moist places, the adults are often seen flying towards the light in your home.

If you happen to see small insects that you first thought were fruit flies start heading towards a lightbulb in the evening hours, then there is a good chance they are fungus gnats.

What Brings Fungus Gnats Inside Your Home?

There are several ways that fungus gnats can get into your home. The most obvious way is through an open door or a hole in the window mesh. This is very likely to happen if you have unkempt window screens and you have the light on in your home.

Fungus gnats will go towards the light. If you have an opening in your home and the light is on, it is only a matter of time before a fungal gnat will come flying in.

Fungus gnats can also potentially come in through your drain, especially if your pipes are damaged. Since fungus gnats like damp and decaying areas, it is not uncommon for them to find their way into drainage systems when there is a vulnerable area somewhere.

Lastly, fungus gnats make their way into homes in the form of house plants. Since fungus gnats love decay and dampness, soil is one of their favorite habitats. If you bring a new house plant in from the store, you may have also invited in some fungus gnats without knowing it. In fact, many fungus gnat infestations originate from new house plants.

Places In The Home You Find Fungus Gnats

Unlike fruit flies, you will not just find fungus gnats buzzing over a bunch of ripe bananas. When it comes to a home, fungus gnats aren’t all that picky. The main factor is they like feeding off decaying matter, and they like damp places.

Even though you can find them in many locations, the two most common places to find fungus gnats are in house plants and in drains. House plants are an ideal location for fungus gnats because they have a perfect damp place to feed and to nest. If a house plant is overwatered then the roots will often begin to rot. If you have rotted roots then fungus gnats will be even more attracted to the soil in your house plant.

When a drain is not cleaned regularly, it will develop slime. This slime can breed all sorts of bacteria and can also attract a number of insects, including fungus gnats. The fungus gnats can both lay their eggs and also eat the mites within the drain. This makes for an ideal habitat.

What Do Fungus Gnats Eat?

Adult fungus gnats and fungus gnat larvae have two very distinct diets. The fungus larvae look like tiny little worms. These wormlike creatures feed off decaying debris. One of their favorite things to consume is decaying or rotted plants.

Adult fungus gnats survive off a diet of dead bugs, molds, and fungus. This mold and fungus grows in damp and often dark areas, which is why fungus gnats like damp dark areas so much.

Drains and soil beds both offer the ideal menu for fungus gnats. Still, mold and spores and dead bugs can be found throughout the house. This means fungus gnats are not limited to one area of your home when it comes to food.

Where Do Fungus Gnats Lay Eggs

Fungus gnats lay their eggs in damp places, ideally near a food source for the larvae. This can include underneath sink drains anywhere in the home. Other popular spots for fungus gnats to lay eggs are any dark corners of the bathroom or kitchen that are subject to damp conditions.

If you have house plants and they are always kept moist, then this would offer an ideal place for a fungus gnat to lay its eggs. It is quite common for house plants to be brought into the home with fungus gnat larvae already inside the soil.

Do Fungus Gnats Bite?

Although fungus gnats look a lot like tiny mosquitos, they do not bite. In fact the adult flying pests do not even eat your household plants, only the larvae do. Even though they do not bite you, they can cause quite an infestation in many areas of the home.

Do Fungus Gnats Live In Bedrooms

Fungus gnats live anywhere that they are able to find a viable food source. This means fungus gnats can even live in your bedroom depending on how your home is designed and how you have chosen to decorate your room. This is especially true if you have plants in your bedroom.

If you have a meticulously clean and sterilized bedroom it is unlikely you will have fungus gnats. When your room has living organisms like houseplants or even succulents, however, you may eventually find fungus gnats in your bedroom.

If you notice fungus gnats in your bedroom you should remove any existing plants from the room. If you have any organic trash that may have started to decompose remove this as well. When you notice there are still small black bugs in your room that are not fruit flies, then they may not be fungus gnats after all.

Other Small Black Bugs That Live In The Home

While fungus gnats are the most common pesky small black household bug that look like fruit flies, there are others. In order to determine exactly what type of bugs have infiltrated your home you should study their location and how they behave. You can often determine what type of bug you have based on how they move, what they look like exactly, and where they live.

House Flies

House flies and fruit flies are the most common tiny insects found in most modern homes today. Unlike fruit flies and fungus gnats, however, house flies can originate and breed in a variety of places.

House flies can be a problem any time the weather warms up. They are often a consistent nuisance in the summer months. These pests can come in through open windows, or cracks in the wall. They are able to lay their eggs anywhere from wall cracks to drains, but their favorite place is in kitchen trash cans.

There is nothing worse than emptying your trash can and noticing maggots in the trash can underneath. In order to avoid this it is crucial to have a well-sealed trash can. Always remember to empty the trash frequently and do your best to sanitize all surfaces.

You cannot prevent house flies from coming in through open windows. you can, however, certainly eliminate all their favorite breeding grounds and prevent an infestation. House flies lay lots of eggs, and the eggs hatch very quickly. This is why it is critical you address the problem as soon as you notice a few flies gathering in your house.

Phorid Flies

Phorid flies, which are also known as hump-backed flies or scuttle flies, are another common small black household pest. The reason phorid flies are often called scuttle flies is because they rarely fly in a straight line, but zig-zag and then “scuttle” along surfaces.

They are shaped with, you guessed it, a signature humped back. They do have wings, which makes them look similar to a fruit fly, but they do not fly like fruit flies do.

Phorid flies are attracted to decaying matter, not unlike a fungus gnat. Phorid flies are often found in patio flower beds, or in herb gardens on window sills. Adult phorid flies are attracted to light. For this reason, bug zappers and fly strips can help to kill adults. You can also use pyrethrin spray if you notice an infestation in a concentrated area.

If you notice a phorid fly infestation in your drain pipes this can be a sign of a bigger issue. Since phorid flies are attracted to decaying matter, noticing them in your pipes might mean damage in your pipe system.

Drain Flies

Drain flies are also small black winged pests that can infest your home. Just as their name implies, drain flies are commonly found multiplying in and around household drains.

Drain flies have wings that are similar to that of a moth, only these bugs are much smaller. These insects are actually much closer in size and shape to a fruit fly than a moth. Unlike fruit flies, they are not found buzzing around ripened fruit and vegetables. In fact, they rarely are seen flying at all.

Drain flies are nocturnal, so they are not seen too often in the day. When they are seen, however, they tend to “hop” more than fly, as they are not good at flying.

One way to test for drain flies is to leave duct tape over the drain for a night. If you have drain flies you will find them stuck to the tape in the morning. If this is the case you should address the infestation immediately as it can advance rapidly.

The best way to get rid of drain flies is to destroy their habitat. This means thoroughly cleaning out the drains and pipes of any slime or bacteria that the flies can feed off and lay eggs on. There are a variety of chemical drain cleaners that can clean your pipes and eliminate these pests at the same time.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are one type of bug you want to get rid of as soon as you notice them. In addition to being an irritating pest, carpet beetles can actually cause significant damage to your home if left unchecked.

Carpet beetles are very small beetles that are dark in color and oval in shape. Unlike many other tiny insects in the home that feed off bacteria and decay, carpet beetle larvae feed off of animal products.

This means everything from your leather jackets to silk kimonos can all get eaten and destroyed if you allow carpet beetle larvae to roam free in your home.

Carpet beetles can also be found in highly-soiled laundry or bed sheets and even in the kitchen pantry. Keeping a thoroughly clean house (including steam cleaning carpets and frequently cleaning sheets and clothing) will help curb a carpet beetle issue. There are also chemical products you can purchase.


No-see-ums may be small, but they are perhaps the most irritating of all the small black insects that look like fruit flies but are not fruit flies. For one, you can barely see them, hence their name. This might seem like a good thing, but it also means an infestation can go unnoticed until it is too late.

Worst of all, no-see-ums are biting midges, which means they will bite humans and leave a mark. If you do not see any mosquitos and have checked your bed for bed bugs, there is a good chance the pesky bites are no-see-ums.

These biting midges often live outside, and they live short lives. This means the best way to keep them out of your house and off your skin is to keep your doors closed, and make sure your windows have up-to-date mesh window screens installed throughout your home.


If there is one pesky bug that everyone is familiar with, it’s a mosquito. These blood-sucking irritants are opportunistic pests that will ruin your entire day if they go unnoticed.

It can be frustrating enough getting bit by a mosquito in nature, but having a mosquito infestation in your home can be unbearable. Luckily, if you simply eliminate a mosquito’s habitat, you can eliminate the pests themselves.

Mosquitos love stagnant water and moisture. They also lay their eggs in these places. By getting rid of stagnant water, fixing leaking pipes and wiping up water in the shower and other areas, you can greatly reduce your risk of mosquitos in the house.

Pro Tip: If you have flowers in a vase, you can try adding a drop of dish soap to the water, as this will prevent mosquito larvae from growing and it will not hurt the flowers.

10 Ways To Get Rid Of Fungus Gnats And Other Flying Bugs

1. Unclog Your Drains

One of the best ways to remove and prevent infestations of all sorts of small black bugs is to take better care of your drain pipes. Drainpipes are one of the main locations of fungus gnat and other small bug infestations. The reason for this is due to the buildup of slime and bacteria in the drains.

The best way to both remove an infestation and to prevent a future one is to keep your drains clean and dry. If you have a slight water leak then be sure to fix it right away. Also make sure you are regularly cleaning your shower and sinks with proper cleaners. Pay particular attention to the drain itself when cleaning.

2. Steel Wool over soil

Steel wool is not only a great tool to get rid of rust, but it can also be a highly effective way to kill fungus gnats. Since fungus gnats and many other insects grow in the soil, they eventually need to spread their wings and fly into the sky as adults.

If you place a layer of steel wool over the entire soil surface area of your infected plant, you create a deadly barrier. When the adult flies try to escape, they will three their wings in the steel wool. After just a few weeks there should be no more larvae remaining in the soil, as no adults will have laid any eggs.

3. Dry The Soil

Fungus gnats and other household insects are not simply attracted to soil normally. They are attracted to rot and decay within the soil. The main cause of rot and decay is moisture (often too much moisture). If you allow your plant to thoroughly dry out without killing it, then you will remove the rot issue in most cases.

Also, it is never good to overwater a plant. In addition to attracting pests, this root rot will also often lead to ruining the plant and eventually will kill the plant in most circumstances.

4. Seal Gaps And Cracks

Gaps between the walls and cracks in the walls themselves are both places that these small insects love to lay their eggs. The best way to eliminate this as a potential breeding ground is to eliminate it altogether.

Use caulk or another type of filler (depending on the area) to fill in any gaps in the wall or windows and cracks in the home itself. Not only will this reduce the risk of bug infestations, but it can reduce other home hazards as well.

5. Turn On The Bug Zapper

Sometimes the old methods work best. Many small black household insects are attracted to UV light. This means the best way to lure them out of the places you don’t want them is with a light trap. This is why bug zappers can be highly effective

While the old style of bug zapper is not “in fashion” so much anymore, you can find a large variety of UV light bug traps on the market to fit your needs. These are highly effective in porch and indoor/outdoor areas if this is where the bugs are the issue.

6. Remove Dead Leaves and Flowers

Removing any dead leaves or branches from the top part of the soil is very critical in maintaining pest-free soil. While in nature it is great to have leaves decompose into the ground for nutrients, this is not the case in house plants.

When leaves, flowers and other organic matter falls onto soil, it becomes prime feeding and breeding ground for pests. The best way to prevent this breeding ground from occurring is by regularly cleaning the top layer of soil. Also, before you water your plants, take a quick inspection of the soil each time, and clean it wherever it needs attention.

7. Use Vinegar Traps or Hydrogen Peroxide

There are several non-toxic tried-and-true methods to get rid of bugs as well. One of the most popular is a vinegar trap. You simply put apple cider vinegar in a container, cover it with plastic wrap and poke a few holes. Over time the bugs will be drawn to the vinegar, and will get trapped once they get through the holes, and will eventually drown.

Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water (usually approximately 3 percent hydrogen peroxide is safe) is another method. This mixture can be sprayed to infected areas, including live plants, and will greatly reduce an infestation without killing everything else.

8. Repot Houseplants With Fresh Soil, New Liner

If you have a particularly major or difficult infestation then you may want to use all new materials. Repotting your plant and using a new liner is a more drastic approach to removing fungus gnats, but it is also highly effective.

When you repot your plant, be sure you get any and all soil off the roots of the plant. This process should be done when the soil is drier, never when it is wet. Not only will this make the process less messy, it will also decrease the likelihood that any larvae will be transferred to the new plant.

When you repot the plant, you may want to include some rocks at the bottom of the top, or some way to allow for proper drainage at the bottom of the pot to prevent root rot in the future.

9. Install New Wire Mesh In Windows

The most common way bugs get into the home is through an open door or window. More often than not, it is not simply from opening and closing a door. Instead, many times windows have old wire mesh screens with holes. Sometimes there are not even screens installed on some windows.

In order to greatly reduce bugs in your home you should regularly check the screens on all your windows. They should be replaced on a schedule, and if kept up to date, they will greatly reduce any risk of many bug infestations.

10. Sticky Fly Strips

While they may not be the most attractive solution, fly strips work. Fly strips can be a great way to get rid of a fly infestation that has gotten out of hand. This is particularly true if one specific area (like the kitchen for example) has seen a huge influx in flying pests.

Although fly strips are a bit unsightly, always remember that once they have done their job you can throw them away.

How Do I Prevent Bugs From Ever Returning?

If you try all the above methods, there is a good chance you will get rid of any bug problem you have. But this does not mean you will never have bugs in your home again. At the end of the day, cleanliness and home upkeep are the best ways to prevent these small black insects from coming into your home.

Most of the bugs are attracted to either decay, filth, or stagnant water. None of these environments are types of environments in your home. Any time you notice the potential for one of these breeding grounds be sure to get rid of it before it gets much worse.

What We Learned About Small Black Bugs

When it comes to small black insects that look like fruit flies, there are several potential suspects. Fungus gnats are the most likely culprits. They are just slightly smaller than fruit flies, and like decaying material. While fruit flies are only normally found around produce, you can find fungus gnats all over your home.

Some of the more popular places you might find fungus gnats are underneath your drains or in your house plants. This is where they like to breed. There is also a chance the bugs might be drain flies, phorid flies, no-see-ums, carpet beetles, or even mosquitos.

Regardless of what the bug is, be sure to keep your house and drains clean and free of mold and decay. Caulk the cracks in your walls and make sure your window screens are in good condition. These steps will all help prevent future insect infestations in the future.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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