Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Indoor Gnat Problem Pet Hedgehog

I currently live in a rental home with my family in an area just outside of Hickory, North Carolina. The house itself is very old and we've known very early on that there was a bit of a mold problem within the walls. Myself and my brother stay upstairs, where the original home owner converted the attic to two more bedrooms and added an additional bathroom. Not much can be said for the quality of his handiwork - the walling is definitely inferior to the rest of the house. But again, it is a very old house to begin with.
During the summers, we have a bit of a gnat problem. It's generally not that bad and we attributed it mostly to a poorly insulated house. We don't leave fruit or anything of the like laying around.
I've recently read that indoor gnats are often attributed to house plants as well. Which there are none of upstairs.
Anyway, a little over two years ago, I had left for college up at Western Carolina University, where I purchased a pet hedgehog off of another dorm mate who stayed a floor below me. Needless to say, I didn't do very well up there and after a year I was back home and attending community college (Where I'm actually doing quite well, really, but that's not the point here).
I've noticed this summer the gnats seem particularly out of control. I've noticed, though, that they seem to almost swarm the area of my bedroom where I keep my hedgehog. He's larger than a hamster and requires more space, so I keep him in a large plastic storage container with no lid.
I bed his home with wood chips and clean it regularly, but it seems that as soon as I clean the storage tub and put new bedding and new food and everything back into it, the gnats are back within a day.
Are these the same Gnats that usually infest the insides of peoples' homes? I remember a few summers ago before I acquired the prickly critter we tried placing bowls of vinegar around the house to try and control the bothersome pests, but there was no real concentrated location of them back then, should I try placing a bowl of vinegar near where the gnats congregate around my Hedgehog?
In the while, Hedgehogs tend to eat the larva of insects. I fear that the gnats are possibly breeding in the hedgehog's bedding. I wasn't too concerned at first since Hedgehogs eat insect larva, but early this evening while watching some internet television, I noticed him making some odd sounds. When I approached the bin to check on him, he was looking up as if he was watching a few gnats flying about. Hedgehog's usually tend to only make vocal sounds like chirping when in heat or almost a screaming when in extreme pain or fear. This was an elongated squeak of sorts, a sound I've never heard him make before.
Is it possible that these gnats could be causing my hedgehog harm? And should I attempt the vinegar trap tactic again? Should I possible vacate the upstairs (including the hedgehog) for a day to spray pest control spray? I am worried about my hedgehog's well being and at the same time the Gnats are a consistent annoyance.
Thanks in advance to any help anyone might be able to provide.

Hey neighbor (kinda) I'm just over the mountain in TN. I can't speak about gnats harming your hedgehog or not but I can advise you about the gnats and then if you get rid of them, then all the better.
You chose a fairly easy pest to deal with, provided you can spend a little cash. I just googled the product Invade biofoam and the first site here Invade Bio Foam sells it for 40 bucks.
It is applied with a foamer but at the same site above it is $70
I only have experience with professional tools but I would be willing to try this one on amazon (because I am a cheapskate!) Chapin Hand Sprayer Multi Purpose Poly Foamer Sprayer 48-Ounce #1054: Home Garden
Your pest lays their eggs in the slime in drains and because they lay them deep within it, pouring bleach or pretty much everything else down there, will have no effect on them. The biofoam is designed to cut through the slime.
Follow the direction on the product label which probably states to use it at night when the plumbing isn't used much. You will need to treat each drain (sinks and tubs).
Good luck!
Oh one thing...catching them in vinegar or anything else just won't work long term. Cover a cup with aluminum foil and poke a hole it and they will drown in vinegar or apple juice but don't do the obvious and place it near your hedgehog. Instead put it between him and the drains to get them before they find him. That way it won't attract even more to him.

Thanks for the response. It kind of makes since, I suppose. Even though we don't notice many gnats in the bathroom upstairs itself, it was added later on by the original homeowner whom isn't the most handy of people. As such, the bathroom itself with its less-than-professional construction might be more susceptible to the gnats making their way in the home. Though I guess I could've happened even with a perfectly well constructed home, we never had a severe gnat problem back when we lived in a suburb of Charlotte.

The word gnat is a very general, catch-all term and doesn't help. Catch several, keep them in good condition, not alive, and take them to an agricultural office, pest control company, etc. for identification. All fly problems are easier controlled when identified. You can go on internet, look for university sites, and see what/where they breed. This is how you attack and solve fly problems. Probably not related at all to the hedge hog, but may be attracted to it since they are already there. Hope this helps.

I need help. I have fungus gnats that are attracted to light, and the windows. I've had them for at least 6 months, and threw out the only two plants I had 5 months ago. I caught thousands on sticky traps I attached to the windows. Now I notice they're as bad as ever. I even set a bomb off in the rooms they are in. What can I do? Could they be in the moss that is on top of fake plants? But the fake plants have been around for 12 years. I have many drains I have covered that I do not use...but they aren't near the bathrooms...just the windows. They've taken over my life. Someone please help! Thank you, Crystaldeedee

Here's a great Colorado State U. article with plenty of info Fungus Gnats as Houseplant and Indoor Pests
It basically says to limit water, so if you've removed the plants you have done that.
One of the ingredients listed to be effective is Bifenthrin which is the main ingredient in Ortho Home Defense.
Depending on your home including wall paint, kids, pets, etc, I would try to apply it to a small area first (to test how the surface reacts if painted)where they are most in window sills and if all goes well on the test area; use more.
It works by the insects walking in it wet or after it dries and will continue to work for several weeks (the label will say how long). I would keep trapping them with glue boards too and double check for plants/soil

Crystaldeedee: Are you positive that they are fungus gnats? My experience with fungus gnats is that they are not as attracted to light (windows) as other fly species. Setting off aerosol bombs only kills exposed adults. To stop a fly problem, a positive identification is needed. From that, we can determine what they breed in and search for that. Phorid flies are very similar to fungus gnats in appearance, but breed in different places. Somehow, I think that moisture or plumbing issues will be the culprit. Examples: wet insulation in wall voids from rain infiltration; slow leak in sewer pipe encased in wall void; bad toilet gasket; improper a/c condensation drain going under cement floor slab (phorids). Phorids will enter from cracks in cement slabs if it is chronically wet underneath. Again, I can't stress enough how important it is to have a positive ID for whatever fly problem that one is having. Find out and let us know. Hope this helps.

Thanks for your suggestions.
These gnats are really attracted to light. BUT, I live in a townhouse and the problem in downstairs. I have a walkout. The concrete 'stoop' outside the sliding glass doors is chipped, and weather stripping from the doors had peeled away. We are planning on replacing the doors. BUT could they have been coming in during the cold (Chicago) winter months?
Anyway, the other concern is our neighbors (with adjacent walls) had a flood in there lower level well over a year ago. They had to replace everything. I thought there was this wonderful fire wall between the two units, but these places were noted for their shoddy work. (I can hear the man next door thumping around the house).
Just yesterday, I was cleaning. There was a huge web by the sliding glass door and the curtain just loaded with these guys. Some spider was having a gay old time with them.
You see, they come around the computer if it's the only light on at night. They were all over the windows (and still are) all winter.
Now, one other thing. They don't look at all like sewer flies BUT I do have two showers and three sinks I don't use. I covered the openings....BUT could they be from the dry traps, and be in another room and not anywhere near the closed drains? One shower and sink is on my third floor and there's not ONE of these up there.
I'm putting the sticky traps back up on the windows because I caught thousands that way.
Any other thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

You again! You can rule out their coming in during winter months, Chicago winters are too cold for that. As PA Bugman suggests, get a good ID. It's not hard; catch one and compare them to flys G7388 Household Flies | University of Missouri Extension
It definitely sounds as if that flood damage could be their breeding site. Aside from getting a good ID, I think you should get creative with glue traps by placing them in areas that could be their source like around plumbing, any cracks or spaces that lead or could lead to your neighbors place.
Over time you should be able to narrow down their source. That link above also details some control strategies once you know what you're dealing with.
Let us know what happens!

Yes, me again. Now I don't know what the heck they are. I've only seen a couple lately...around the computer screen. My husband insists they are not fungus gnats because they don't resemble a mosquito. Thanks for the links. Now my husband informs me that our neighbor's flood was two years ago. I think it's the mulch right up against the lower level doors. I have OCD when it comes to a clean house, so I can't stand it. I'll let you know if I catch more in the traps which we haven't put back up yet. UGH! Thanks again. Crystal

Crystaldeedee: I re-read your posts and am thinking about your sliding doors and the worn/missing weatherstripping. Could there be moist/rotten wood in that door frame, maybe underneath the sliding doors?
Other thought: Could these flies be coming in at nighttime if you keep windows open? Could they come in thru the screens because they are attracted to the lights. If you windows and doors are closed all the time for the a/c as ours our, then this idea won't work. Keep us posted.

Tags: indoor, gnat, problem, hedgehog, fungus gnats, that they, attracted light, because they, know what, about gnats