How To Treat Gnats In Houseplant Soil

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.

I have potted plants, how can I get rid of the gnats?

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.

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.

Why are there gnats on my houseplants?

Houseplants with gnats are a pain. They are tiny flies, or “fungus gnats,” approximately 1/8 of an inch long, that are lured to the moist potting soil and decomposing plant matter at the bases of indoor plants. They don’t bite, despite having a mosquito-like appearance.

The simplest strategy to stop gnats from taking over your home is to avoid over-watering in the first place, as gnats in houseplants often come from the potting mix containing too much moisture. But what if the harm has already been done and your plants are being surrounded by a swarm of bothersome flies? Here, we’ll go over the most effective methods for getting rid of gnats in indoor plants.

How to identify gnats in indoor plants

You can check for gnat eggs to see whether you’re about to encounter an issue. In the soil, fungus gnats lay their eggs, which develop into larvae that eat fungi in plant soil. The larvae of the fungus gnat are about 1/4 inch long, with a shiny black head and an elongated, translucent to whitish body.

They enjoy organic stuff in addition to fungi and may occasionally consume plant roots or seedlings, which will make the plant appear wilted. Inspect the area for a slime trail similar to the ones that slugs and snails leave. Your indoor plants most certainly have gnats if you can see a trail.

Gnats also enjoy light, so you might see them on your windows, especially if there are any indoor plants close by.

Even though the ordinary fruit fly and gnats are completely distinct insects, they are frequently confused. Fruit flies, unlike fungus gnats, are tan in color and resemble oval, baby house flies. They tend to hang around near fruit.