What can you do to keep fungus gnats out of your houseplants? To prevent these little insects from taking over your plants, you can take a number of steps. Your quickly expanding plant will be strong and thriving without any pesky insects with only a few easy steps!
Overwatering is the main reason why fungus gnats appear on plants, so try to allow the soil completely dry out between waterings as often as you can. To keep gnats away, check the soil with your finger every few days, and once you notice it beginning to dry out, leave it that way for approximately a week. Keep in mind that these guys prefer damp environments, so pay attention to how often you water your plants!
Use a Pot with Good Drainage
In order to prevent the gnats from laying eggs and spreading, make sure the pot your plant is in has sufficient drainage. Additionally, having proper drainage will stop root rot, a horrible disease that grows in overwatered plants.
Check Plants Before Bringing Inside
When individuals initially bring plants into their homes, they frequently assume that they are bug-free. Even while that’s not always the case, it’s still crucial to examine your plants for gnats or any other bothersome small bugs before bringing them inside.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have unanswered queries about how to get rid of fungus gnats? To help you become the best gardening and houseplant expert you can be, we’ve included some frequently asked questions below.
Will fungus gnats go away on their own?
The fungus gnats won’t go away by themselves. You’ll need to take matters into your own hands and try several various approaches to get rid of them if you want to make sure that these bugs don’t remain for an extended period of time. The issue might be resolved by just draining the extra water, or if there are too many, traps may be necessary.
Can I spray fungus gnats?
Yes, spraying them is a good alternative if you want to be sure the gnats are gone from the plant. You have two options for treating insects: you can use water and soap to treat them naturally, or you can choose an aggressive insecticide spray from the market. Use caution while using these sprays because they can kill beneficial insects.
Do gnats fly around the house?
Although fungus gnats have wings, they only use them to fly around the soil or close to the plant. You might see some of them floating close to your mouth or nose because they are drawn to carbon dioxide as well.
Even though fungus gnats can be rather bothersome, neither you nor the plant in your pot will be harmed by them. However, it’s still critical to find them quickly to prevent an infestation. You’ll be equipped to deal with everything that comes your way if you follow our advise!
How can I eradicate gnats from my indoor plants?
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.
Where can I find gnat-free potting soil?
If you have a lot of indoor plants, it might be challenging to get rid of fungus gnats. The adults can effortlessly fly or leap from one plant to another, depositing their eggs in any location with moist soil.
The adult fungus gnats have a short lifespan, similar to fruit flies. Therefore, your fungus gnat problem will be solved once all the larvae have died.
Fungus gnats can be readily controlled without the use of dangerous synthetic pesticides by adopting natural pest control solutions and techniques. The greatest ways to get rid of those pesky flying gnats from your indoor plants are listed below.
Control soil moisture
Therefore, avoiding overwatering your plants is the simplest and most efficient way to control plant gnats and ultimately get rid of fungus gnats.
On most indoor plants, though, you don’t want to let the soil entirely dry up. To keep the ideal moisture level for your houseplants and get rid of gnats in plant soil, use a soil moisture sensor.
Indoor plant watering tools also make it simpler to water houseplants and aid in preventing overwatering, which will help you get rid of plant gnats.
Water plants from the bottom
When you water plants from the top, the top inch of the soil, where fungus gnat larvae typically dwell, tends to stay rather damp.
Without endangering the plant’s general health, bottom watering plants will make it simpler to maintain drier top soil.
Simply pour water into the plant’s drip tray or storage pot to water it from the bottom, and the plant will absorb the liquid through the drainage holes.
Never let your plant sit in water for an extended period of time. After soaking for around 30 minutes, drain out any extra water.
Use yellow houseplant sticky stakes
A very safe technique of pest control is to place a yellow sticky trap next to the plant. This will draw and catch the adult fungus gnats.
This will only work to control the adult population; it won’t address the root cause of the issue (the larvae).
However, yellow sticky traps unquestionably assist in preventing adult fungus gnats from flying to other plants.
Apply organic pest control products
To get rid of gnats in potted plants, pour or spritz an organic insecticidal soap or a neem oil mixture into the top of the soil.
I mix 1 tsp of mild liquid soap with 1 liter of water to produce my own insecticidal soap.
Neem oil has a lasting effect that aids in prevention and is excellent at killing pests that attack indoor plants. Neem oil can be purchased here.
After a few applications, these organic gnat pesticides ought to work; just be careful not to overwater your plants.
Why do my potting soil have tiny insects in it?
In comparison to a fungus gnat, the shore fly (right) has a more substantial body and shorter antennae (left).
Small flies called fungus gnats are pests that attack soil, potting soil, other container materials, and other sources of organic decay. Their larvae devour roots and can be a concern in greenhouses, nurseries, potted plants, and interior plantscapes. Their larvae mostly consume fungi and organic debris in soil. Indoor houseplants may produce adult fungus gnats, which can be a nuisance.
The Orfelia and Bradysia species of fungus gnats, often known as darkwinged fungus gnats (Sciaridae), are small, delicate-looking insects that resemble mosquitoes in appearance. Fungus gnats have segmented antennae that are longer than their heads and thin legs. They can be distinguished by their lengthy antennae from shore flies with shorter, bristle-like antennae that are more hardy, also seen in greenhouses, and linked with algae and decaying organic debris. Fungus gnat adults typically measure between 116 to 18 inches in length, while some species can grow up to 12 inches in length. The common Bradysia species have Y-shaped wing veins and light gray to transparent wings.
Adult fungus gnats are drawn to light, so you may initially see them flying close to windows indoors. However, fungus gnats are rather poor flyers and typically don’t move around much indoors in contrast to more active species like the common housefly (Musca domestica). Fungus gnats frequently hang around potted plants and fly across growing medium, foliage, compost, and wet mulch piles (or rest there).
In potting soil or damp organic waste, females lay their small eggs. Larvae have an elongated, whitish-to-clear body and a shiny, black head. They consume compost, root hairs, fungi, leaf mold, grass clippings, and organic mulch. If the environment is particularly damp and there are lots of fungus gnats, larvae may produce slime trails on the surface of the medium that resemble those of little snails or slugs.
Adult fungus gnats don’t bite people or harm plants; instead, their presence is primarily seen as an annoyance. However, a huge population of larvae can harm the roots of a plant and impede its growth, especially in seedlings and young plants. In interior plantscapes and with houseplants, significant root damage and even plant mortality have been noted when high populations were linked to damp, organically rich soil. Therefore, a wilting houseplant may not be a sign of a water shortage but rather root damage from fungus gnat larvae or (more frequently) from other causes of unhealthy roots. The more typical causes of wilting plants, however, include excessive or insufficient water, root decay fungus, and unfavorable soil conditions (such as inadequate drainage or waterlogging).
Greenhouses, nurseries, and sod farms are more frequently affected by severe fungus gnat damage. Although larvae also consume plant roots outside, they typically don’t cause much harm.
Egg, larva (with four larval stages or instars), pupa, and adult are the four phases through which fungus gnats develop. In moist organic medium, where females lay eggs and larvae feed, the small eggs and oblong pupae are found. Eggs hatch around 75oF in about 3 days, larvae take about 10 days to transform into pupae, and adults appear in about 4 days. Depending on the temperature, a generation of fungus gnats (from female to female) can be produced in around 17 days. They will grow more quickly and produce more generations per year as the temperature rises.
Each year, there are numerous overlapping generations of fungus gnats. In California’s interior, they are most prevalent outside in the winter and spring months when water is more readily available and the weather is colder. In damp coastal areas and indoors, they can occur at any time of the year.