Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats: Pinguicula Luring in Gnats for a Feast

Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats

If you love nature, you are probably trying to solve all your insect problems the natural way. What could be more natural than getting a few plants that feed on insects, right? These best carnivorous plants for gnats are ready to jump into action.  

What Are Carnivorous Plants and How Do They Eat Insects?

In nature, we accept that plants eat nutrients they draw from the soil, yet in areas where there is only nutrient poor soil, nature has made a way. Carnivorous plants use their unique triggered leaves to lock over an insect and digest that trapped insect in unique fluids and enzymes

Once the carnivorous plant has fully digested the insects it has trapped, their exoskeletons become dried and are blown away by a breeze or passing animal. Once the skeletons are released, the carnivorous plant is ready to catch and digest more insects. 

Why Use a Carnivorous Plant Solution for Your Gnat Problem?

A carnivorous houseplant is an ideal solution to a bug problem, but it is especially effective when dealing with gnats or fruit flies. Simply plant a few sundews or pinguiculas around the base of your houseplants, and watch them devour dozens of gnats in a single day. 

Gnats, fruit flies, and even drain flies love to congregate around the plants you keep in your bathroom or kitchen. They lay eggs that produce worms, which quickly ravage the root system of your houseplants. 

Luckily, the swarming tendencies of these pesky insects also make them an ideal target for the many carnivorous plants you can purchase for your home. 

Note: Occasionally gnats and fruit flies can be mistaken for each other. Read about the best carnivorous plants for fruit flies here.

Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats. Sundews Collecting Early Morning Dew or Luring Insects?
Sundew With Tentacles

Related: Best Soil for Carnivorous Plants

The Solution of Using Carnivorous Plants 

Carnivorous plants not only feed off gnats and other swarming insects; they also lure these insects to their tentacles, leaves, jugs, and traps with sticky sweet smelling liquids. This means the plants will successfully trap whole swarms of gnats and fruit flies each day. 

By planting these carnivorous plants at the roots of your houseplants, you ensure the insects swarm the carnivorous plants and not your fragile love ferns and orchids. 

Challenges of Using Carnivorous Plants 

Carnivorous plants are great predatory plants, but they also reach their fill. Most of these plants need to have a hibernation period where they are denied food so they can fully absorb their last meals and balance their internal juices. This means you will not always be able to rely on your sundews or pinguicula to catch and kill all the fruit flies that swarm your bathroom. 

Taking care of carnivorous plants can be a challenge. They are sensitive to tap water and require purified or spring water. Additionally, you need to plant them in peat moss combined with perlite. This most accurately simulates the natural rainforest environment the best carnivorous plants for gnats hail from. 

Related: How to Grow Carnivorous Plants from Seeds

The 5 Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats

If you are looking for the 5 best carnivorous plants for gnats, here they are: 

Pinguicula 

Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats -  Butterworts - Pinguicula - in the family Lentibulariaceae
Butterworts – Pinguicula – in the family Lentibulariaceae

Often described as a fatty herb, the pinguicula or butterwort resembles a succulent. The gnats stick to a substance that coats the pinguicula’s leaves. Once trapped, the digestive process begins. While the pinguicula attracts harmful insects like flies and gnats to its leaves, its flowers always keep the good pollinator insects away from its dangerous leaves. 

Pros 

  • A natural solution to gnat swarms in your bathroom
  • If left alone, the pinguicula is a resilient plant
  • Helps avoid using poison sprays to kill insects that are harmful to your family

Cons

  • Pinguicula can only digest a limited number of gnats a day
  • Excessive steam can damage the pinguicula’s sticky leaves 
  • Some people don’t like having the plant in their home when there are gnats and flies stuck to the leaves

Sundew

Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats - Sundew - Drosera
Sundew – Drosera

The attractive sundew has bright rosettes that look great in any house. The best thing about this carnivorous plant is tiny stems at the tips of the plant that secrete a sticky substance to trap gnats and other insects. These stems firstly lure and trap the gnat, and then they fold and hold the insect. It takes 4 to 6 days for the gnat to be completely digested.  

Pros 

  • Can grow indoors and outdoors 
  • Many tentacle-like filaments that can trap gnats with sticky residue
  • Pretty to look at
  • Can catch several thousand insects in a few hours, digesting these once the plant is hungry

Cons

  • Need constant warm and humid conditions to thrive 
  • Needs filtered water and not tap water when watering
  • One plant tip takes half to a full week to digest one gnat 

Trumpet Pitcher 

Trumpet Pitcher - Sarracenia - Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats
Trumpet Pitcher – Sarracenia

Native to North America, the trumpet pitcher from the Sarracenia family has colorful pitchers with lips that secrete nectar. Once a gnat, fruit fly, or other insect goes to investigate, they fall into the hollow tube of the pitcher and can’t climb out thanks to the fine hairs that point downward. The plant slowly digests the insect.   

Pros 

  • Pretty carnivorous houseplant 
  • Can lure and trap flies, gnats, and other insects 

Cons 

  • Needs full sun or placed near south-facing windows to thrive 
  • Needs to be kept wet permanently with neutral or alkaline water 
  • Needs constant humidity  

Dewy Pine 

Drosophyllum lusitanicum - Portuguese sundew or dewy pine - Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats
Drosophyllum lusitanicum – Portuguese sundew or dewy pine

Dewy pine traps gnats and fruit flies by secreting a sweet-smelling liquid that is meant to lure insects to the plant. Once a gnat lands on the leaves, it falls down a spiral, all the while the gnat is covered with a sticky residue. This residue suffocates the gnat, and once dead, the plant releases digestive enzymes that dissolve the soft tissue of the insect.  

Pros 

  • Doesn’t need frequent watering 
  • Can lure, trap, and kills lots of gnats at a time 

Cons 

  • Finicky plants that’s highly susceptible to fungal infections 
  • Takes up a lot of space  
Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats. Venus Flytrap Ready to Close
Deadly Bite of Venus Flytrap 

Venus Flytrap

The Venus flytrap is perhaps one of the most commonly identified carnivorous plants. Yet, the Venus flytrap is not the best at catching gnats. The catching leaves of the flytrap aren’t designed to close around such small insects as gnats, so the insect needs to be stuck to the flytrap’s lure or sticky surface. However, if you’re in a pinch, then a flytrap (as it’s commonly known) will do nicely.

Pros 

  • Widely available carnivorous plant 
  • Pretty to look at
  • Can feed the flytrap gnats 

Cons

  • Not the best carnivorous plant for gnats
  • Slow at digesting insects 

Final Thoughts 

Adding a carnivorous plant to your home can be an effective way to eliminate houseflies, gnats, and other insects without needing to resort to chemical poisons. Working with nature, you will become spellbound when you watch the tentacles of the sundew close around gnats or see the pinguicula absorb small insects on its ample leaves.

Buy Carnivorous Plants for Gnats

Below is an excellent selection of carnivorous plants for sale. Some are sold as live plants. Dewy Pine and Butterwort are sold as seeds.

Last update on 2022-07-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API