If you’re like most people, then you probably enjoy spending time in your garden. However, if you’ve been having issues with pesky fruit flies or gnats flying around, that enjoyment can quickly disappear.
But don’t worry –they’re easy to get rid of! In this post, we’ll share some tips on how to get rid of gnats in plants for good. No more swatting at pesky bugs or using chemical sprays. You’ll be able to enjoy your garden free from gnats in no time.
Are you plagued by gnats every time you water your plants? Your plants may be suffering from fungus gnat infestations. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, you’d benefit from some fantastic tips on how to get rid of gnats in plants.
Summertime means spending time outdoors in the garden, but for many plant-lovers, that also means sharing their space with pesky gnats. While there are many ways to get rid of these little nuisances or prevent fungus gnats infestations, there are methods that do work like a charm!
What are Fungus Gnats?
Fungus gnats are distinguished by their long legs, transparent wings, and fondness for nutrient-rich, wet soils. These little flies may be seen hovering around plant containers.
Unlike some more harmful pests, they will not be seen gnawing on the plant’s foliage. However, you will see them in the soil feeding on plant root hairs and other organic matter. Make no mistake: if left unaddressed, these pesky insects can still do enormous harm.
While adult fungus gnats only live for about a week, they can have a significant impact during that time, laying up to 300 eggs in the right conditions. Populations can quickly explode with such a quick turnaround and a short life cycle of roughly 3-4 weeks.
Fungus gnats have small bodies, grey or translucent wings, black heads, and slender legs, similar to mosquitoes. They can also be identified by their long, segmented antennae. They eat organic matter in the ground.
Where did they come from? They usually come from the soil of a newly bought plant, a bag of potting mix, an open window, or a plant brought in from outside.
Signs of Fungus Gnat Infestation in Plants
If your plant is infested with fungus gnats, you would know rather quickly. Because these plant flies have poor flying abilities, they prefer to stay near the plant. They’ll most likely be flying in zig-zag patterns.
It’s common to see all phases of infestation due to the high reproduction rate of fungus gnats. If you gently stir the soil, you’ll undoubtedly see fungus gnat larvae in the soil.
If you see small black flies hovering around your plants, there’s a good chance you have fungus gnats. Fungus gnats are attracted to moist soil, and can often be found near the base of potted plants.
These tiny pests can cause damage to plant roots, and may also spread plant diseases. Fungus gnats love moisture.
So, you can expect their population to reach its height during the cold seasons. Plants that are dormant require less water during this period, so their soils stay wet for longer.
Wet soils, which promote root rot and fungus, are gnat breeding grounds. If you bring your tender plants inside to overwinter, you risk introducing unwelcome pests into your house.
Before you look for gnats on your plant, there are a few indicators to watch for. Knowing if your plant has gnats might be difficult because they are so tiny. Even though these little bugs don’t necessarily harm the plant (unless it’s a severe case), they can still be an annoyance.
Here’s a list of indications that your plant may be sick, so you’ll know what to do if the situation arises. We’ve compiled a list of sure symptoms for you to refer to in case something goes wrong:
- Your plant has stopped growing. When you see that your plant has seemingly reached its maximum growth and size, it is possible that adult gnats aren’t the ones to be concerned about! The larvae may be feeding on your plant’s roots, reducing the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.
- The leaves turn yellow and begin to fall off. If the damage is significant, the plant may begin to wilt and the leaves might become yellow. If the roots are severely damaged, the plant will not be able to survive.
- You notice a swarm of small flies buzzing about your plant. If you see small flies flying about your plant, it’s often always a sign that you have fungus gnats.
- The rot of the roots. When a plant is overwatered, the roots begin to decay and spread throughout the soil. Fungus gnats are attracted to damp surroundings, so if your plant exhibits root rot signs, there’s a strong possibility you’re dealing with fungus gnats.
What Causes Fungus Gnats in Plants?
These little flies are drawn to the fungus that grows in wet soil and decomposing plant parts. Gnats can also be found in new houseplants, which is why you should keep them quarantined for two weeks to keep pests away from your established plants.
There might be a variety of reasons for your gnat infestation, although organic debris, wet soil, and light sources are the most prevalent.
Organic Materials in Soil Surface
The larvae of fungus gnats enjoy eating organic material in potting soil. These bugs reproduce by laying eggs in the first few inches of soil, and when the eggs hatch, they feed on the organic matter in the soil. They begin to pupate after around two weeks.
Wet or Damp Soil
If you find yourself often watering your potted plant and the soil is continually wet, fungus gnats may be the cause. Keeping your plant soil wet or moist most of the time will create the ideal habitat for these bugs to survive and multiply, which is something you don’t want to happen.
Fungus gnats, like all other gnats, are drawn to organic waste and moisture. They also congregate around light fixtures. This makes your home an ideal location for them to gather!
While these pests are a nuisance when they are in large numbers, it may be comforting to know that at least they don’t bite. They also do little harm to your robust and healthy plants.
Of course, they can do cause yellowing of leaves and stunted growth. And at their worse, they can cause the death of your seedlings and other delicate plants. However, let’s face it – you don’t want a swarm of gnats buzzing about your face.
How to Get Rid of Gnats in Plants
There are several ways to get rid of fungus gnats from your favorite plants.
Make the Soil Inhospitable for Fungus Gnat Larvae
Because fungus gnats and their larvae prefer moist or wet soil, let the soil dry out for a few days before watering your plant. The gnats will likely find it difficult to survive in this environment and will die off in the dry soil.
Your houseplant will be able to withstand the dryness for longer than you think, so skip your next watering to get rid of the gnats. Remove any extra water from the bottom of your plant. This will ensure that there is no moisture for gnats to lay their eggs.
In the winter, most plants slow down their growth, sensing the change in seasons and going dormant. You can prevent fungus gnats from laying eggs in your potting soil by reducing the amount of water you use.
Use a slow-decomposing, well-draining soil; the older the potting media, the more appealing it is to pests. Because open potting soil bags can attract gnats, try storing unused potting soil in a sealed container.
Bugs can’t live without oxygen. Also, when repotting a plant, never reuse the soil; it’s always better to use fresh soil.
Use Gnat Traps
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There are numerous traps you can use to get rid of these pesky pests if you want a speedier solution. You can make these yourself with a few home objects or buy specialized gnat traps, depending on your needs.
If you choose to buy sticky gnat traps, be sure to choose the effective ones. The gnats are captured with yellow sticky traps in the form of little sheets of paper. This is a simple, non-toxic method that may not be aesthetically appealing but is incredibly effective.
Sticky traps are an easy way to solve a variety of pest issues. Gnats on the move will be caught if you place them immediately on the soil’s surface.
To stop them from laying eggs, remove them from the trap or dispose of them and replace them frequently (every 2-3 days). These insects are particularly attracted to yellow traps.
Repot and Sanitize
Remove the plant from its container and scrape out the dirt if you want to take matters into your own hands. Take care not to harm the roots while extracting only what you need. Fill a garbage bag with the contaminated soil and sanitize your planter with warm water and soap. After this is finished, repot your plant in new soil.
Make Use of a Spray Bottle
Spray fungus gnats with homemade solutions. Fill a spray bottle halfway with water and the rest with dish soap. Spray the solution on the top layer of the soil, and repeat the technique until the gnats are gone.
You can also spray your soil with a mixture of four parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide. If you’re seeking an efficient method to get rid of baby and adult gnats, try this simple and natural method.
Add Beneficial Bugs or Nematodes
Adding more bugs to the mix may seem counterproductive, but it’s a simple way to keep pest numbers under control. Nematodes are worm-like creatures that are so little that they can’t be seen with the human eye.
They enter the larval stage of fungus gnats and other insects, releasing bacteria that consume the pest from the inside out. When you think about it, it’s bleak and disgusting, but it’s not as bad as letting adult gnats eat your prized houseplants!
Lay Sand or Gravel on the Top Inch of the Soil
Fungus gnats lay their eggs on the top inch of the soil. Replace the top inch with sand or gravel, which produces a dry environment and deprives them of nutrient-rich fungus to consume. They won’t want to lay their eggs if they don’t have access to the food they require.
It’s still possible that the eggs will hatch. Allow them to hatch outside rather than inside your home. You don’t want to just relocate your plants – and the gnats – from one room to the next.
How to Control Gnats and Keep Them Away from Indoor Plants
There are a few things you can do to make sure these small bugs don’t take over your plants. Your fast-growing plant will be healthy and thriving without any unwelcome visitors.
Avoid overwatering your plants.
Overwatering is one of the most common causes of fungus gnats infestations in plants, so make sure to let your soil dry out between waterings as much as possible.
Inspect the soil with your finger every so often, and if it feels dry, leave it alone for about a week to keep the gnats away. These critters thrive in damp environments, so pay attention to how often you water your plants!
Use a pot with good drainage holes.
One of the most important things to look for when purchasing a pot is drainage. If the pot doesn’t have good drainage holes, your plant will sit in water and eventually die.
Most pots have small holes in the bottom that allow excess water to drain out; otherwise, the gnats will lay eggs and spread throughout the plant. Root rot, a horrible disease that develops in plants that are overwatered, can also be avoided by having proper drainage.
Check your plant for fungus gnats before bringing them inside.
If you are bringing plants in from the cold, check them for fungus gnats. These pests can easily hitch a ride into your home on potted plants.
Fungus gnats are tiny black flies that can be a nuisance in the home. They lay eggs in moist soil, and the larvae can damage plant roots.
To check for fungus gnats, look for small black flies around the potting soil and on the plants themselves. If you see any fly activity, there are likely eggs or larvae present.
If you find fungus gnats in your plants, take steps to get rid of them before bringing them inside.
One way to do this is to drench the soil with a pesticide that is specifically labeled for fungus gnats. Be sure to follow the directions on the label, and take care not to get the pesticide on the plant itself.
Another way to get rid of fungus gnats is to discard the infested soil and repot the plants in fresh soil. This can be a bit more work, but it will get rid of any existing eggs or larvae.
Use insecticidal treatments and sprays.
These sprays are always available to control infestations if everything else fails. There are several products available that target the larval or adult stages, but either is fine.
You should be able to exterminate these pesky plant flies in just a few weeks if you efficiently attack one stage of their life cycle and reapply frequently.
Hydrogen peroxide kills larvae on touch, making it a rapid and effective approach to getting rid of these pests. Soak your soil in a solution made up of four parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide.
Add neem oil to the soil.
To destroy larvae, neem oil can be diluted with water and applied to the soil. Adult flies can also be killed by spraying neem oil on them. Finally, pyrethrin sprays contain compounds that are harmful to a variety of pests, including fungus gnat larvae and flies, and can kill them on contact.
Fungus gnats do not carry diseases that are harmful to humans, but they can have an impact on the health of your houseplants. With these tips, you will be able to get rid of gnats in your plants for good.