How To Get Rid Of Gnats In Houseplants

We plant lovers don’t want to witness plants being harmed by pests. The problem enters our homes, which is gross, therefore we especially don’t want to see pests in our houseplants! Fungus gnats are pesky, winged insects with little wings that resemble mosquitoes and are about the size of fruit flies. The good news is that compared to many other pests, these plant flies cause significantly less harm, and even better, they’re rather simple to get rid of.

Long legs, transparent wings, and a preference for nutrient-rich, damp soils are characteristics of fungus gnats. These little flies may be seen flying around plant containers, but unlike some more dangerous pests, you won’t observe them actually chewing on the plant’s foliage. However, you will see them in the soil, feeding on the organic matter and hairs from plant roots. Do not underestimate the damage that these bugs can still do if not addressed.

Even though adult fungus gnats only live for about a week, they can have a big impact in that short time by producing up to 300 eggs under the correct circumstances. With such a quick turnaround and a brief life cycle of about 3–4 weeks, populations can grow incredibly quickly.

It’s rather simple to tell if your plant has a fungus gnat issue. Since these plant flies can’t fly very well, they usually stay rather near to the plant. They’ll probably be moving in zigzag patterns while you watch them. It’s typical to witness all the different phases of this bug at once because they reproduce so quickly. It’s likely that some bugs still in their larval stage will be visible if you gently agitate the soil. They inhabit the earth where they eat organic debris and have translucent bodies and glossy, black heads.

Our plants are getting ready to settle in for the upcoming cold season as winter approaches here in North Dakota. Unfortunately, that signals that these pesky bug populations are about to reach their peak. During this time, dormant plants use less water, which causes their soil to stay moist for longer. Gnats thrive in moist soils because they promote root rot and fungus. Be cautious when bringing delicate plants inside to overwinter since you run the risk of inviting unwelcome pests into your house.

Your plants will start to exhibit signs of stress if ignored and neglected. Fungus gnats don’t directly harm plant leaves, but they eat the root hairs and deplete the soil of vital minerals. This may result in abrupt plant withering and yellowing of the leaves, sluggish development, and a general decline in vigor.

When tackling any pest, you should always start with natural management approaches. The least hazardous and disruptive to your plant and house are typically natural and organic remedies, while chemicals may occasionally be required as a second line of defense. Fortunately, most fungus gnat populations may be controlled and eliminated naturally provided they are discovered and dealt with in a timely manner. Remember that one plant container can hold three to four generations of bugs, so you’ll probably need to apply your favorite approach more than once. Gnats in your indoor plants can be managed in the following ways:

Do not overwater. Before watering your indoor plants, allow the top couple of inches of soil to dry up. This will not only stop fungus gnats from deciding that your plant would make the best place for them to live, but it will also interfere with their reproductive cycle and assist to reduce populations that have already moved in.

Activate sticky traps. Not just for mice, either! Sticky traps are easy fixes for many pest issues. Gnats that are moving will be caught if you place them immediately on the soil’s surface. To stop them from laying eggs, remove them from the trap, discard them, and replace it frequently (every two to three days). Particularly effective at drawing these insects, yellow traps are.

Create vinegar and cider traps.

Mix equal volumes of cider and vinegar in a shallow dish or can to act as a trap for fruit flies. Lay the trap on the soil surface inside the container or even next to the damaged plant. The concoction will attract the bugs, who will then fall into it and drown.

Bring in useful nematodes. Although it may seem counterproductive to introduce additional bugs into the equation, doing so is a simple way to reduce pest numbers. Nematodes are incredibly minute, worm-like insects that are frequently invisible to the unaided eye. In their larval stage, they attempt to infiltrate fungus gnats and other insects, releasing a bacteria that eventually consumes the pest from the inside out. When you think about it, it’s awful and disgusting, but not as disgusting as allowing gnats to devour your prized houseplants!

If all else fails, there are always insecticidal goods and sprays to keep pest numbers under control. There are many products available that either target the adult stage or the larval stage, but either is OK. You should be able to get rid of these unpleasant plant flies in a few of weeks as long as you successfully target one phase of their life cycle and reapply often.

Larvae are easily eliminated with hydrogen peroxide since it kills them immediately upon contact. Infuse your soil with a solution made of four parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide.

To destroy larvae, neem oil can also be put to the soil after being diluted with water. Neem oil can also be sprayed on surfaces to instantly kill adult flies. Last but not least, pyrethrin sprays contain extracts that are harmful to a variety of pests and can instantly kill flies and fungus gnat larvae.

Fungus gnats can affect the health of your houseplants even though they don’t transmit any diseases that are dangerous to humans. Your plants will thank you by giving off a lush, healthy appearance to enliven your home if you keep pests at away.

How can gnats in indoor potted plants be removed?

We plant lovers don’t want to witness plants being harmed by pests. The problem enters our homes, which is gross, therefore we especially don’t want to see pests in our houseplants! The little winged creatures known as fungus gnats are about the size of fruit flies and resemble tiny mosquitoes (don’t worry, they don’t sting!). The good news is that these pests are considerably less dangerous than many others, and even better, they are rather simple to get rid of.

What are Fungus Gnats?

It’s probably a fungus gnat if you encounter a little winged bug that resembles a fruit fly fluttering about the soil of your houseplant. They are attracted to damp, nutrient-rich soils and have long legs for a fly their size. Your plants’ leaves have very little appeal to fungus gnats; instead, they prefer the damp earth beneath the plant canopy. They devour the hair roots of your plants and lay their eggs in the top layer of damp soil. Nothing is more impolite than an unwelcome guest laying eggs in your favorite plant and consuming its roots, even though their damage may be modest. These bugs eventually cause wilting, poor growth, and discolored leaves if left untreated.

Signs of Fungus Gnats

If you have a gnat infestation, you already know how noticeable they are. Due to their poor flight abilities, these flies usually stay rather near to the plant. They’ll be moving in zigzag patterns as you watch. Their tiny, transparent larvae could be visible if the dirt is carefully stirred. Yellow sticky cards are an excellent control method as well as a terrific way to keep track of their activity. See more below on that.

The Number One Way to Get Rid of Gnats

Infestations of fungus gnats typically occur when the soil is very damp. Problems might arise when plant parents provide the same care to their plants throughout the year. Consider this: Compared to the winter, our homes are typically brighter and more humid in the summer. In the winter, most plants become more dormant as a result of the changing seasons. You can keep fungus gnats from setting up camp in your plant pots by reducing the amount of water you use.

Gnats deposit their eggs in the top layer of the soil, and the soil must remain moist for the eggs to survive. It can harm the eggs and disrupt the gnats’ life cycle if you let it dry out. Your indoor plants should be soaked from below if your pot allows it. While the soil near the root ball absorbs water, the soil surface remains dry. Place the pot in a dish of water and let the water to seep up through the drainage holes to do this.

What If That Doesn’t Work?

You can intensify your treatment plan if you’ve modified your watering schedule and the gnats are still present or if you want to get rid of them quickly. Here are a few simple methods for getting rid of gnats in your indoor plants:

Apply sticky cards. In our greenhouse, you may have noticed the yellow cards on sticks and wondered what they were for. The cards are positioned directly above the soil’s surface since gnats prefer the color yellow. Checking what you’ve captured allows you to keep track of what you have while also getting rid of all the gnats that land on your credit card. Replace your sticky card every 4-6 weeks (or sooner if it’s bugged), just to be safe.

Larvae are quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently killed upon contact with hydrogen peroxide solution. Spray your soil with a solution made of four parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide.

Although unpleasant, fungus gnats can’t stand a chance against a plant parent with a game plan. To avoid these disgusting bugs, reduce your watering frequency throughout the winter and develop the habit of bottom-watering. You won’t regret it!

Why are there gnats on my houseplants?

1. Modify your drinking habits

Pests like fruit flies and gnats thrive in moist soil; their eggs and larvae cannot survive without a steady supply of moisture. Your plant probably needs less water than you are giving it, so try checking the soil with your finger and only watering when the top 2 inches of soil are completely dry. If you struggle to accurately measure moisture on your own, you can get a moisture sensor gauge that you can simply insert inside your planter. Keep in mind that the main reason why houseplants die is overwatering!


If your planter has a tray underneath, make sure to drain it right away after watering to prevent moisture buildup. The perforated holes at the front of the Wally Eco Wall Planter’s basket allow the soil breathe and remove extra moisture, but be careful not to overwater. If the air in the bathroom is excessively humid, move your plant outside or turn the humidifier down a notch.

How can I quickly eradicate gnats from my plants?

The good news is that you don’t need to bug bomb your house to get rid of soil gnats (yay). Disrupting their life cycle and making your home uninhabitable for these pests are the two main goals. Here are some tips for treating indoor plants naturally and getting rid of gnats in the soil.

Make the Natural Habitat Inhospitable

To survive, fungus gnat larvae require wet soil. It will eliminate the gnats in the soil and deter new adults from laying fungus gnat eggs, ultimately eliminating the larval stage, if you allow it to completely dry up before your subsequent watering.

Use a Soap-and-Water Mixture

Add a few drops of liquid Castille soap or liquid dish soap to a cup of water. To kill the larvae, sprinkle this on the soil’s surface using a spray bottle. To be sure that all of the larvae have been killed, repeat this procedure again in a couple of days.

Although some folks advise using vinegar traps, I’ve discovered that soap and water work better. Making a fruit fly trap is best accomplished using vinegar, and in particular, a bowl of apple cider vinegar.

Dispose of the Top Layer of Soil Outdoors

Still, the eggs might hatch. Instead of inside your home, let them hatch outside. Pests shouldn’t just be moved from one area of the house to another.

All of these actions can help you manage and stop fungus gnat infestations naturally.

How can gnats in soil be eliminated?

So your African violets have been invaded by fungus gnats? Let’s now discuss methods for managing both adult flies and fly larvae. Here, we advise using an integrated pest management strategy to cover all your bases and permanently safeguard the inhabitants of your greenhouse and houseplants.

Organic Fungus Gnat Control

Surprisingly, one of my top suggestions for getting rid of these pests is a common household item. You can saturate soil in hydrogen peroxide (the standard topical variety, 3 percent).

Pour a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to four parts water through the soil in the root zone of the pot until it starts to emerge from the bottom. On contact, fungus gnat larvae are killed by the peroxide.

Neem oil works well as a soil soak to get rid of fungus gnat larvae. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to dilute the oil with water, then immerse the plant’s roots in the solution. To deter adult gnats, you can additionally spray the plant’s uppermost part.

Neem oil contains concentrated azadirachtin in its natural state. It is safe to use indoors, in greenhouses, gardens, and hydroponically. Use it as directed by the manufacturer, much like you would neem oil.

Sprays containing pyrethrin are also effective at killing fungus gnat larvae. Use pyrethrins by misting the soil’s surface and all plant surfaces with a light mist. A light mist will do; you don’t want the plants to get drenched. Spray the soil exactly where adults usually rest to completely hydrate the top if there are fungus gnat larvae present, then prevent overwatering. Let the soil dry to a depth of at least two. When the issue has passed and the insects are no longer a concern, reapply these after three to four weeks.

Adults and larvae are the targets of a predatory Hypoaspis miles mite. Additionally, it preys on other insects like thrips and springtails, which can be a pest in a greenhouse or garden. Since solitary specimens are more difficult to treat, these are best used outside or in greenhouses.

As you can see, there are numerous biological control treatments available for the removal of fungus gnats. Apply pesticides along with wise cultural habits and effective preventative measures, and you’re good to go!

Cultural Control of Fungus Gnats

Avoid flooding your growing media. These insects thrive in the moist growing medium found in houseplants. Do not leave standing water in saucers next to growing medium or below houseplants for an extended period of time. Keep your growth medium away from your potted greenhouse residents and fix any irrigation system leaks that develop. To get rid of any larvae that may be feasting on the organic elements in your compost, pasteurize the growing medium. If you don’t like the notion of doing it yourself, use heated commercial growing medium mixtures. While you take care of the issue, keep any sick plant material and growth medium away from other people.

Biological Removal of Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnat larvae can be killed by a specific strain of bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis. Most commercial BT sprays do not contain these bacteria, although they are also present as active components in some commercial products. You should see a reduction in your fungus gnat issues if you use them to fertilize your growth media.

By scattering Mosquito Bits or Mosquito Dunks over the soil’s surface and soaking them in, you can also introduce this bacterium. These are suitable for usage both inside and outside. They aren’t just used to kill mosquitoes! As they decompose, Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis is released into your soil, where it can begin to kill larvae. Mosquito dunks are more substantial and take longer to work.

The eradication of the fungus gnat larvae might also be greatly aided by the species of beneficial nematodes. The fungus gnat larvae and many other soil-dwelling pests will be eliminated by these microscopic soil dwellers, which you cannot see. Use a pot popper to incorporate these nematodes into the soil when treating an indoor plant. Commercial formulations can cover a larger garden or the entire yard since they uniformly distribute the nematodes with water.

Be warned that using a hydrogen peroxide soil drench and helpful nematodes at the same time will kill the nematodes! Nematodes should not be added back into the soil for at least a few weeks following the infestation. Nematodes should be used in cooler weather if you’re working outside because heat will kill them before they can perform their job. Keep in mind that you must apply more than once, twice a year.