How To Kill Flying Bugs In Houseplants

If you keep an infestation under control, fungus gnats normally won’t harm your plants, but they are very bothersome. They often fly directly into your face as they flutter around it. Additionally, they appear to follow you everywhere. It’s best to address their presence even when they don’t actually harm your plants because they are frequently indications of issues with your maintenance routine. Create a proper watering schedule.

Establish an appropriate watering routine

To eliminate any eggs or larva in the soil, establish a suitable watering schedule. Additionally, it will keep fungus gnats from settling there in the future. Before watering, always make sure the top few inches of soil are dry (for more common houseplants). A moisture meter is available, but I don’t bother with one.

You can print off my free printable plant watering trackers if you’re having trouble remembering when you last watered your plants. Every time you water your plants, update it on your fridge and laminate it!

Use sticky fly traps

In the gift guide I created the previous year for houseplant lovers, I featured my favorite yellow sticky stake fly traps. Since then, I’ve been purchasing inexpensive yellow fly paper, cutting it into strips, and affixing it to the stakes. or simply hang it up. These are quite effective at managing adult populations.

The yellow color of the fly traps attracts swarms of adult gnats. They perish after becoming entangled in the deadly yellow fly paper. Gnats, I’m sorry. And once adult numbers are under control, there is nothing on which to lay eggs.

Invest in a Katchy machine

Okay, I’ll confess it: after seeing one of my planty pals on Tiktok post about her Katchy, I went out and purchased one myself. I was struggling to handle a severe fungus gnat infestation at the time. I gave in and purchased it, and it’s actually pretty wonderful!

The advantage of the Katchy is that it actually has a very attractive appearance—much nicer than a bunch of garishly colored fly paper hanging all over your home. Additionally, you can rapidly replace the sticky fly traps to give it a fresh look.

You turn on the UV light that is mounted on top of it at night to attract flies to it. The flies are then drawn down onto the fly paper by the machine’s fan.

Get rid of gnats in houseplants with vinegar

A quick and easy method for reducing adult gnat populations is vinegar. In addition to sticky traps, this is a fantastic alternative. Simply add a few drops of dish soap to a small shallow bowl of vinegar. Refresh as it fills up with dead gnats every few days. They adore this material.

Use sand or gravel to dress the soil

Fungus gnats lay their eggs in the top few inches of soil, so covering the top with sand or gravel can assist to keep them out. I’ve done this with decorative pebbles or sand, but that’s not my preferred approach. However, I am aware that some people adore this approach. So it’s worthwhile to try.

Hydrogen peroxide mix

You most likely already have hydrogen peroxide in your home, which is another substance that can help control fungus gnats in addition to vinegar. When watering dry soil, use 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 5 parts water to help kill off any organisms. Almost all common houseplants won’t be harmed by this, just avoid using straight hydrogen peroxide!

Try a soap and water mixture

This was briefly discussed in my essay on how to debug plants before storing them for the winter. To get rid of everything in the soil, I usually put an insecticide on it and mix it with some soapy water.

I don’t give this much thought. I simply fill a watering can with warm water, a few drops of mild dish soap (one without a degreaser), and the soap. It will start to bubble. The plant is then given water. Simply sprinkle the top layer of soil if your plant is already damp to stop further overwatering.

Neem oil spray

You may also get rid of fungus gnats by using neem oil. Either get a diluted neem oil spray or a neem oil concentrate and make your own dilution. A concentration I purchase, I find, goes further. My own has been around for a while, and I simply reuse an old spray bottle.

Sprinkling cinnamon

Okay… I’ve tried it before, but I don’t think it had any effect. But a lot of folks suggest cinnamon. Cinnamon, a natural fungicide, can be sprinkled on top of the soil. This should be done while the earth is dry, worked into the top inch or two of soil, and then the plant should be watered.

Use a systemic pesticide

A systemic pesticide can also be used to eradicate everything in the soil. When you water the plant, the pesticide kills everything. You can apply insecticides to the top few inches of the soil. In all honesty, since fungus gnats are less difficult to eradicate than other pests, you probably don’t need this strength of insecticide on them.

I killed several thrips that I had in my giant monstera deliciosa and other indoor plants with insecticide granules. It succeeded! Praise be, it also wiped off all of the fungus gnats. Consequently, it was a plus!

How do I get rid of the tiniest flying insects on my plants?

Fortunately, there are several of organic and chemical-free ways to get rid of fungus gnats from your prized plants. You can use a traditional trap or common household goods like potatoes and dish soap!

Let the Soil Dry

It’s important to remember to let the soil dry out for a few days and refrain from watering your plant because fungus gnats and their larvae prefer to nest in moist soil. The gnats will be forced to live in an uninhabitable habitat as a result, and they will disappear in dry soil. Do not be afraid to skip your next watering in order to get rid of the gnats; your houseplant will be able to endure the dryness for a longer period of time than you might imagine.

The best advice is to take your plant out of the planter and drain any extra water from the bottom. Thus, there won’t be any dampness where gnats might deposit their eggs.

Use Traps

There are numerous traps you may employ to get rid of these bothersome bugs if you’re seeking for a speedier fix. You can choose to DIY these with a few common things or run to the store and buy specialist traps, depending on what best suits your needs.

  • Pour a cup of white vinegar and a few drops of liquid dish soap onto a shallow saucer. The gnats will be drawn to the solution and fall into the trap if you place the bowl near your plant. Repeat the procedure until no more gnats are present.
  • Sticky fly traps are an alternative if the smell of vinegar deters you from making your own homemade gnat trap. These little yellow paper sheets attract gnats and trap them with glue because of their brilliant hue. Although it might not be visually appealing, this procedure is simple and safe.
  • Consider purchasing an indoor fly-catching gadget if you’re sick and tired of gnats in your plants and need an urgent fix. These are typically USB-powered and can be purchased locally or online. The blowers and LED lights draw the gnats, and eventually they are drawn into the trap.
  • Are there any extra potatoes in the kitchen? Set a trap for them! Place the potatoes flesh-down on the ground after cutting them into little pieces. The fungus gnats will be drawn to the potatoes by their dampness. Just be careful that the parts don’t dry out otherwise it won’t operate.

Sanitize and Repot

Consider removing the plant from its planter and scraping out the soil if you want to take matters into your own hands. When doing this, take care not to disrupt the roots and take only what you can get rid of. Put the contaminated soil in a plastic bag and wash the planter with soap and warm water to sterilize it. Repot your plant into new soil after this is finished, then put it back into its planter.

Use a Spray Bottle

Take a spray bottle and combine water and dish soap in it. Repeat the technique until all of the gnats are gone by spraying the solution on the top layer of soil. If you’re seeking for a quick and natural solution to get rid of fungus gnats, try this.

Why do flying insects inhabit my houseplant?

Numerous little flying insects that resemble gnats have been seen all over a few of my houseplants. How can I get rid of them and what are they?

Most likely, they are fungus gnats. These naughty little creatures are a very frequent pest throughout the winter, and they are more drawn to the damp soil in houseplant containers than to the actual plants.

Most of the time, fungus gnats are an annoyance. The adults can occasionally hover around your face or at the very least give the impression that you live in a greenhouse overrun with insects.

Although the adults resemble little mosquitoes, they don’t bite, sting, or harm plants despite their appearance.

Actually, the larval stage of this bug—the two to three weeks of its life that you cannot see—poses a greater risk to plants.

What are the little flies that I see on my houseplants?

Have you noticed that whenever you water your houseplants, tiny insects flutter up from the pots? They are small flies, or “fungus gnats,” approximately 1/8 of an inch long, attracted to damp potting soil and decomposing leaves on the soil’s surface around your plants. They resemble little mosquitoes, but they don’t bite, as you’ll see if you see one up close. Additionally, fungus gnats don’t do much damage to plants, but they can be a pain to have around. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your indoor plants less inviting to pests in the first place. And there are ways to get rid of fungus gnats if they have already gotten in.

In moist potting soil, fungus gnats love to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, which eat soil-based fungus (hence their name). The larvae are about 1/4 inch long, with a shining black head and an extended, translucent body that seems to be white. They enjoy organic stuff in addition to fungus, and they occasionally consume plant roots or seedlings. Another clear symptom of fungus gnats in your houseplants is a slime path over the surface of the soil that resembles the footprints of slugs or snails. Since these insects enjoy light, you might see them on your windows, especially if there are any indoor plants nearby.

As soon as you notice gnats in your houseplants, take action. Although it may be tempting to spray the adult fungus gnats, this is typically only a temporary solution because new adults will eventually emerge from the soil-borne larvae. Targeting the larval stage of their life cycle is a more effective strategy. Reducing excessive moisture is essential for getting rid of gnats since they lay their eggs in the moist soil surrounding houseplants. Make sure your houseplants have sufficient drainage and avoid overwatering them. Between routine waterings, let the soil dry out just enough so that it isn’t constantly moist but not so much that your plant starts to wilt. In dry soil, the eggs and larvae typically perish. Do not forget to empty saucers of any extra water that may have accumulated.

It could be time to try a product like the sticky yellow BioCare Gnat Stix Traps ($10, Amazon) if drying out the soil doesn’t work. To catch the adults and decrease the quantity of eggs the fungus gnats lay, place one sticky paper close to your plants. Avoid touching the plant’s leaves with the trap. When they become covered in gnats, inspect them every few days and replace them with new traps. You’ll eventually get rid of every gnat.

In the fall, fungus gnats are typically easier to see. When you bring indoor plants inside for the winter, some might hitchhike on them. Verify that the plants are bug-free before bringing them indoors. Make sure there are no pest infestations when you are going to purchase new plants. When planting or repotting, always use brand-new potting soil.

Does vinegar eliminate gnats from indoor plants?

She asked me to write about a true issue she was having with her indoor plants. Of course! I bet many of you are struggling with the same issue.

Have you ever purchased houseplants for your home or office with the intention of bringing some nature indoors but noticed after a week or so that obtrusive small black flies are darting in and out of your line of sight with your computer screen? Ugh! You have a problem with fungus gnats!

Although fungus gnats resemble tiny mosquitoes or fruit flies, they are unrelated and do not bite. They can be spread by cut flowers, especially those with stale vase water, or even by plants with unsterilized soil (poinsettias can be the worst).

In moist plant soil, residential drains, and sewage areas, fungus gnats can be found. In wet soil, fungus gnats lay their eggs. Prior to developing into adult gnats and flying out of the plant soil onto your face, their larvae, which are only one-hundredth of an inch long, are almost impossible to notice. They eat plant roots, soil-borne leaves, and decomposing plant matter. It takes them around 10 days to grow. Indoors, they can reproduce all year long.

This issue is being exacerbated by the gentle care you provide your indoor plants, including watering them. The fungus gnats will like staying in your home if the soil of your houseplants is continually moist. The growing medium used for houseplants is another factor. Numerous potting mixture types contain components that hold onto moisture, and everything that promotes moisture also promotes fungus gnats. To avoid potential pests, Good Earth Plant Company only purchases from nurseries that pre-treat the soil.

So what can you do to combat these annoying little gnats? You must approach the issue from many angles.

Start by starting to wait longer between waterings for your indoor plants. One to two inches of the surface ought to be entirely dry. Sub-irrigation functions well for this reason, among others.

2. Make careful to get rid of any fallen or decomposing plant materials (leaves and roots) as these serve as fungus gnat larvae’s feeding sources. Place a few slices of uncooked potatoes on the surface of the soil to see if you have them. Take a look at the bottom after a few days. Are they chewed-looking? Your plants contain fungus gnat larvae.

3. You can cover the soil with a quarter- to-half-inch layer of diatomaceous earth or horticultural sand (NOT playground sand) to control the larvae. If you water it, the plant will dry out more quickly and fool the fungus gnats into thinking it is not a good site to lay eggs. Additionally, they are actually cut to death if they crawl across the DE.

4. Add one tablespoon of liquid dish soap and one teaspoon of white vinegar to the water every other time you water. The fungus gnat larvae will eventually perish as a result.

5. You can remove the plant from the pot, remove as much soil as you can without harming the plant, and then repot it to expedite the process. Place all of the used soil in a sealed bag and discard it. It cannot be applied elsewhere because doing so will just exacerbate the issue.

6. You can create organic traps on your own to get rid of the adult fungus gnats. You can pour a few drops of liquid dish soap to the bottom of a deep bowl after adding apple cider vinegar or red wine. Put it next to the infected indoor plants. The gnats adore it and will suffocate in it if they fall in. Every couple of days, replace it.

7. You can either buy or manufacture some sticky insect traps. Use cardboard pieces that are a vibrant yellow color, and cover them with Vaseline. For optimal effects, place them horizontally over your plants. Use a card holder from your florist, or one that comes with a plant. Put the card holder with the sticky trap inside, then affix it to your plant.

8. Some backyard gardeners fervently advocate adding three percent hydrogen peroxide directly to the soil of your plants. I wouldn’t advise this as your first option if you have a plant that is very priceless or sensitive.

It could be extremely difficult to entirely eradicate fungus gnats on your own if they frequently infest your plants, especially those in your office. In one instance, the gnats were entering through the ventilation system from another office, as I’ve seen!

We only utilize plants from reputable growers, and our experts take great care to prevent conditions from becoming such that fungus gnats can easily reproduce. We quickly remove any infected plants from our care (which doesn’t happen very often) to prevent fungus gnats from spreading to the rest of your plants.