Prevent A Fungus Gnat Infestation
Fungus gnats can be troublesome in the late summer and early fall when your plants are most vulnerable to infestation. Taking proactive steps such as applying a layer of sand on top of your soil before watering will help prevent an outbreak before it occurs! But it doesn’t mean that your plants have to suffer because of that. You can use additives like Plant Enzymes to rejuvenate the soil and add Calmag & Iron to help with common plant deficiencies like calcium, magnesium, and iron.
Kill Fungus Gnats With Rubbing Alcohol
You can use a diluted spray of rubbing alcohol to treat a fungus gnat problem. When the gnats come in contact with the rubbing alcohol, they die almost instantaneously.
To address a fungus gnat infestation, add some alcohol and water to a spray bottle, and spray any gnats you see. When the solution makes contact, they will almost immediately die.
Fungus Gnat Life Cycle
What’s nice is the adult fungus gnat only lives around one week, but in that time they can lay up to 300 eggs each. In about 4-6 days these eggs hatch into larvae and begin snacking on the roots of your plants in the moisture rich soil.
The pupal larvae grow into adults within 3-4 days and repeat the cycle. As you can imagine, the population can explode exponentially pretty fast.
The whole life cycle from laying of the eggs to adults dying off of old age takes place in 3-4 weeks total, with the range changing depending on the local temperature. This entire life cycle can occur in a single potted plant, hosting several generations at once!
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Be Careful To Avoid Overwatering
Good drainage is your friend when it comes to keeping fungus gnats at bay. If your plant containers are consistently damp, fungus gnats will find their way to it and make themselves at home.
Do not overwater your plant and if you find that the soil itself does not drain well, add some perlite to the mix to help with absorption and drying out.
When you do water your plants, make sure that no water is left in the saucer beneath the pot. Empty these out no more than 30 minutes after the plant has been watered.
Plan your watering schedule carefully. Follow the care instructions for your plants and avoid watering until the soil is suitably dry. You can push your finger into the soil to feel if it is dry enough before watering. It is quite important to keep the top layer of your potting soil dry as this will deter fungus gnats from laying their eggs.
Prevent And Get Rid Of Annoying Fungus Gnats Naturally
Now you can enjoy your houseplants without having to tolerate any unwanted guests. Wondering how to get rid of fungus gnats? You arent alone! Learn how to prevent and how to get rid of gnats in plants naturally.
Theres something refreshing about having houseplants in your home. They breathe life into a house and also add a nice colorful flair.
Houseplants bring a wonderful, lovely dose of nature indoors where you need it most, further helping us by purifying the air in our homes.
However, at some point, you might notice some unwelcome visitors making your houseplants their home. Im talking about fungus gnatsthose annoying little flies that appear whenever you water your plants. Ugh! Do these houseplant pests plague your plant babies too?
Dont worry, there are simpleand naturalways to prevent and get rid of fungus gnats in soil.
Disclaimer: First, a disclaimer. I love living things and try to support natural insects anytime I can. For example, in the outdoor garden, I work to create a natural ecosystem that supports predators for the pests that attack my plants.
Indoor plants, however, have only a few natural predators that want to kill fungus gnats the people and pets they annoy! Unfortunately, the only reasonable way to get rid of fungus gnats in your house is to kill off the pests you have and treat your plants to prevent future infestations.
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Can I Avoid Fungus Gnats Altogether
Unfortunately, the only way to avoid fungus gnats altogether is to keep your house free of potting soil .
The eggs of fungus gnats are usually already present in the potting mix you buy from the store. When you pot and water your plants, the moisture causes the eggs to hatch.
If you consistently let the top part of the soil dry out in between waterings, you should only ever see a few fungus gnats flying around, and they will eventually die out. This is probably the best method out of all of these for preventing any problems!
What Is A Proboscis
A proboscis is the long, straw-like mouthpart that mosquitoes and other insects use for sucking or piercing.
- Will gnats go away on their own?
If the gnats are outside, they are a seasonal issue, and populations will shift with the changing seasons. Inside, they can become a year-round issue and aren’t likely to go away on their own. If gnats have found their way inside and you’re noticing them regularly, there is something in your house that is attracting them and providing them with what they need to survive. Find what’s attracting them and address it and the issue should resolve itself.
- Do gnats bite?
While there are some species of biting gnats, they do not generally infest indoor spaces. If you are noticing gnats inside, it is likely a fungus gnat or a type of fly that looks similar to them, in which case you shouldn’t need to worry about biting.
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Repot Regularly And Cover Up
Sure, these tiny, quiet flies like peat moss-based mediums, but they love it even more when the potting mix is old and deteriorated. A lack of structure means more water retention, after all.
You can test whether you need to repot by feeling the medium with your fingers. Try crumbling a small handful back into the pot. If the medium is no longer fluffy, soft, and full of chunks of various sizes, it might be time to repot.
Once your plant is happily settled in new soil, try covering the surface with half an inch of coarse sand or fine gravel as well.
Moisture will flow through this layer and leave a dry, unappealing surface on top. This will deter the females from laying their eggs there, as it is a less than ideal home for their babies.
Desert sand soil cover from the Mosser Lee Company is .
Keep Plant Debris To A Minimum
Plant debris is a dream come true for fungus gnats. Plant debris is a main source of decaying plant material and this is where adult female fungus gnats love to lay their eggs.
If you notice debris that has fallen from your plants lying in or around the pot, clear it away. These include leaves, flowers, fruit, sticks, and similar. Potting soil that contains compost such as bark should also be avoided as these can trap moisture and include decaying organic matter which is very attractive to the fungus gnat.
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Soil Choice & Modifications
When potting up a new houseplant, use a reputable quality bagged potting soil. One that has been pasteurized or sterilized shouldnt have live eggs, larvae, or flies in it. Avoid using soil from your yard, as it may bring unwanted pests inside along with it.
After potting your houseplant, consider adding a layer of horticultural sand to the top of the soil. You can water the plant through the sand, and meanwhile it will deter fungus gnats from laying eggs in the pot. In addition to sand, there are other soil-topping products like this one that are specially made to eliminate fungus gnats from your potted plants.
Heres What Works But You Probably Shouldnt Try It
There are some things that will help but that plant experts caution against. One is a diluted hydrogen peroxide soak. You dilute hydrogen peroxide in water at about a 1-3 or 1-4 ratio and thoroughly soak your plants soil until it comes out through the drainage holes. Youre not just giving your plant a regular watering, Savio said. Its a thorough drenching of the whole container, ideally two to three drenches in one go to make sure you reach everywhere. The hydrogen peroxide will kill the larvae.
But there is a small problem and a big problem with this solution.
Small problem: Your soil is very wet. Once the hydrogen peroxide is done fizzing, your plant is now a very fertile target for more gnats.
Big problem: The hydrogen peroxide kills everything in your soil, including the good stuff.
You dont want dead soil, Jones told me. Healthy soil is a vibrant ecosystem with beneficial bacteria and microorganisms that help your plants grow. Murdering them is bad. Jones said this is really acceptable only as an all-out, last-case, last-ditch effort when youve tried everything else in this article. If you do this and you go about five weeks without seeing any new gnats, you have to repot your plant or aggressively feed the soil with things like compost tea or worm castings.
That insecticide stuff it does work. But I just dont like to have those chemicals in my life, said Adams, the horticulturist.
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Use Hydrogen Peroxide To Kill Fungus Gnats
If the simple combination of drying out the soil and hanging a few sticky traps doesnt get the job done, there are several natural and non-toxic products used to kill fungus gnats as well. One option is to use something you probably already have around your house hydrogen peroxide! The good news? It is readily available, easy to work with, and wont harm your house plants. The best news? Hydrogen peroxide reportedly kills fungus gnat eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult flies on contact. Sayonara, suckers.
To make a hydrogen peroxide solution, first be sure youre using the typical 3% household hydrogen peroxide, not the industrial-strength stuff! Dilute it down slightly and mix 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts water .
Allow the soil to dry slightly before application. Then, either spray the surface of the soil thoroughly until it saturates down a couple of inches. Or, for a deeper and more effective treatment, water the entire plant with it soaking all of the soil. It will fizz and foam, which is totally normal. It quickly breaks down into molecules of water and oxygen, which clearly arent a danger for plants!
Can Fungus Gnats Cause Damage
Adult fungus gnats dont bite or feed, so they arent a threat to people or plants. However, they can become an annoyance if they arent controlled and are left to reproduce in large numbers. The larvae of fungus gnats pose a small threat to young plants. Larvae feed on organic matter in the soil and will sometimes feed on the roots of indoor plants. Seedlings and other less-established houseplants are most at risk for damage since their roots are delicate.
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Eggs Were Already Into The Soil
One of the most common indoor gardening mistakes is to use outdoor gardening soil. This is because of the presence of pests, and, among them, fungus gnats are quite common.
However, this is not the only reason. Indeed, also normal potting mix bought from a qualified retailer might still host fungus gnats. Moist organic matter added to the potting mix when produced is very likely to be responsible in this case. Compost and peat moss, for instance, quite often added for the perfect potting mix, are the two main fungus gnats carriers. You might not be the first to receive an infested bag of soil . Indeed, especially their larvae, are hard to spot.
To Get Rid Of Fungus Gnats You Must Kill The Maggots Only Killing The Adults Will Not Work
Most how-to sites will tell you to use sticky traps, neem oil, or fruit fly traps. Unfortunately, those methods will never manage to kill all of the adults. If there are still at least two adults living in your house, the infestation will never stop — you only need two fungus gnats to breed hundreds more!
If you really want the infestation to go away, you have to kill the root of the problem: the maggots in the soil. If you kill the maggots, the adults will slowly die of old age but there will be zero new adults to replace them. Since the maggots are under the soil and not on the surface of the plant, you have to use a “soil drench” to kill them, which just means a treatment that you apply directly to the soil and saturate all of the soil.
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Organic Fungus Gnat Control
Interestingly enough, a common household item is one of the top recommendations that I have for controlling these pests. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a soil drench.
Mix one part peroxide with four parts water, and pour it through the soil at the root zone until it begins to come out of the base of the pot. The peroxide kills fungus gnat larvae on contact.
Neem oil is also an effective soil drench to combat fungus gnat larvae. Dilute the oil with water per manufacturers directions and directly drench the soil at the roots of the plant. You can also spray the upper portion of the plant to keep adult gnats at bay.
AzaMax is a higher-strength concentration of the azadirachtin which naturally occurs in neem oil. Its safe in hydroponics use as well as in greenhouses, gardens, and indoors. Use it per manufacturers directions in the same way you would use neem oil.
Pyrethrin sprays are also effective against fungus gnats and their larvae. I recommend Garden Safe Houseplant & Garden Insect Killer.
To use pyrethrins, lightly mist all plant surfaces and the top of the soil. You dont want the plants dripping wet, a thin mist will be enough.
If theres fungus gnat larvae in the soil, spray the soil directly to thoroughly moisten the top, then avoid watering until the soil has dried to at least a 2 depth.
What Are Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats are a fruit flysized insect pest that primarily affects indoor houseplants. Attracted to the moisture of potting soil, adult gnats lay their eggs on organic matter near the soil surface. After about three days, the eggs hatch into larvae, which burrow into the soil to feed on fungi and decaying plant material. Two weeks after that, adult gnats emerge from the soil to repeat the process. Adults live for about one week.
Fungus gnats are completely harmless to humans, since they cant bite and dont spread diseases. They can be a problem for houseplants, however, when their population explodes and their larvae starts to feed on plants thin roots. Fungus gnats may also spread Pythium, a group of plant pathogens that causes damping off in seedlings.
Once you have a fungus gnat infestation, using consistent management and prevention techniques is the key to ending it. Further down on this page, weve listed a few of the best ways to both get rid of adult gnats and prevent new gnats from emerging.
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How To Get Rid Of Gnats In Houseplants
If you have any houseplants, you probably have dealt with fungus gnats at some point. Fungus gnats are teeny tiny black flying insects that are attracted to wet potting soil. Thats why they typically affect indoor plantsthe soil takes longer to dry out, and many people overwater their plants by mistake. Also they are trapped inside, so you notice them a lot more!
Benefits Of Natural And Organic Control
There are insecticides you can use to control fungus gnats, but its best to always opt for natural methods if at all possible.
Insecticides and other pesticides often have strong chemicals that can be harmful to your health and may kill beneficial organisms in the soil. If you have pets, they may end up breathing in the insecticide, which can cause an allergic reaction or other problems.
With fungus gnats, you dont need strong chemicals to get rid of them.
Many of the following solutions use everyday ingredients that you likely have in your pantry. Others are inexpensive solutions that wont harm you, your pets, or your houseplants.
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How To Get Rid Of Fungus Gnats In Houseplants
If you’re annoyed by tiny flying insects that seem to appear every time you water your houseplants, you’re probably dealing with gnatsmore specifically, fungus gnats. These pests are attracted to the damp soil of potted houseplants. They need the moist soil as a haven to lay their eggs, and the organic matter in the soil feeds their larvae. Besides being annoying, this feeding behavior can damage your plants.
Although they look a lot like tiny mosquitoes, fungus gnats are small flies of the Orfelia and Bradysia species. They can be identified by their narrow legs, light gray or clear wings, and segmented antennae that are larger than their heads. These are fairly tiny insects. The adults grow to about 1/16 to 1/8 inch long.
The good news is that fungus gnats do not bite people or pets. The adult gnats dont do much damage to plants, either rather, its the larvae that will munch on your plant’s tiny feeder roots, limiting the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and stunting its growth. This is more of a problem in nurseries, where susceptible young seedlings are grown in damp conditions. While you may not be growing your plants in a nursery or greenhouse setting, with a large enough population, they can pose a threat to common houseplants, too. If you notice these gnats flitting about and your plants seem to wilt for no reason, it could be root damage being caused by the feeding larvae.