Fungus gnats are small, dark-colored insects that can be found flying around houseplants, especially in moist soil. They are a common problem for indoor gardeners and can be quite annoying. Fungus gnats are attracted to damp environments and feed on decaying organic matter, including plant roots.
They can quickly multiply and become a widespread infestation if not dealt with promptly. Fungus gnats can be a nuisance in your home, but there are several ways to get rid of them. In this article, we will discuss various methods to get rid of fungus gnats and prevent them from returning.
What are Fungus Gnats?
Before you can tackle a fungus gnat infestation, it’s essential to understand what they are and what attracts them. Fungus gnats are tiny flies that are often mistaken for fruit flies or mosquitoes. They have long legs and wings that allow them to fly, and they are typically found in damp, moist environments.
Fungus gnats lay their eggs in the soil of potted plants, where the larvae will hatch and feed on organic matter and plant roots. Over time, the larvae will develop into adult gnats, and the cycle will repeat.
How To Identify Fungus Gnats?
Fungus gnats are small, dark-colored flies that are commonly found in potted plants and soil. They are typically about 1/8 to 1/10 inch in length and have long, thin legs and wings. Here are some ways to identify fungus gnats:
As mentioned, fungus gnats are small, dark-colored flies with long legs and wings. They may also have a humpbacked appearance due to their hunched thorax.
Fungus gnats are often seen flying around plants or soil. They are weak fliers and tend to hover in the air or crawl slowly along the soil surface. When you use a surrounding pot and inside a container with drainage holes, they often crawl out from the little holes below.
Fungus gnat larvae are thin, white, worm-like creatures that live in the soil. They are often found near the surface and can sometimes be seen wriggling around in the soil or on the bottom of pots.
While fungus gnats themselves do not typically cause significant damage to plants, unless there’s a major infestation. Their larvae can feed on plant roots and cause stunted growth or wilting.
If you suspect that you have a fungus gnat infestation, it’s important to take action to control it before it becomes a bigger problem.
Why To Control Fungus Gnats?
Preventing fungus gnats from infesting your plants is much easier than getting rid of them once they have already taken hold. Not only can an infestation be time-consuming and difficult to control, but it can also cause damage to your plants and potentially spread to other plants in your home.
They are also quite actively annoying, flying into your nose and eyes.
Controlling Fungus Gnats
If you already have a fungus gnat infestation, there are several treatment options available. Here are some pros and cons of each method:
There are several insecticides available that can kill fungus gnats and their larvae. However, these chemicals can be toxic to humans and pets, and may also harm beneficial insects that help keep your plants healthy.
Some natural remedies for fungus gnats include using neem oil, cinnamon powder, or hydrogen peroxide. These treatments are generally safe for humans and pets, but may not be as effective as chemical treatments.
I recently used both neem oil and cinnamon as an effective measure, poured some neem oil on top, which cause blue mold to grow on my Christmas cactus. Mold appeared due to overly watering during winter, when the plant was dormant.
To get rid of the mold, I covered the top surface with cinnamon, which gets rid of the mold and fungus gnats! The whole process took about a week and I have no more fungus gnats in my home.
This involves applying a solution of insecticide or natural remedy to the soil to kill the larvae. It can be effective, but may require several applications to fully eradicate the infestation.
Using hydrogen peroxide can be an effective way to kill fungus gnat larvae in the soil. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with four parts water and water your plants with the solution. This will kill any larvae in the soil and prevent them from hatching. Although, I would recommend neem oil and cinnamon before using hydrogen peroxide.
Fungus gnats thrive in moist soil, so allowing your soil to dry out before watering can help prevent an infestation. Check the soil moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your plant. If it’s still damp, wait a few more days before watering.
This method cannot be applied to plants that need regular watering and moist soil. Your plant will be unhappy way before the fungus gnats disappear, for example jalapenos or cayenne chilli.
Remove Infested Soil
Repot your plant into fresh soil, cleaning the roots of the plant with a little water pressure beforehand. Before doing this, ensure that your plant is easily repotted and do not enjoy being rootbound. I replanted my Tradescantia Nanouk during the fungus gnat infestation.
Prevent Waterlogged Soil
Using well-draining soil and pots with drainage holes is essential to prevent water from pooling at the bottom of your pot, creating a damp environment that fungus gnats love. You can also add perlite or sand to your soil mix to increase drainage.
Yellow Sticky Traps
Use Yellow sticky traps are a way to capture adult fungus gnats. Place the traps near your plants, and the gnats will be attracted to the color and get stuck on the sticky surface. This measure is not very effective since fungus gnats reproduce rapidly, but it can help during major infestations.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for controlling fungus gnats. The vinegar works by attracting the gnats with its sweet smell, and then trapping them in the liquid. Here’s how to use apple cider vinegar to control fungus gnats:
Fill a shallow dish with apple cider vinegar, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Add a drop of dish soap to the vinegar. This will break the surface tension of the liquid and prevent the gnats from landing on top.
Place the dish near your plants or in the area where you have seen fungus gnats. Check the dish daily and dispose of any dead gnats. Refill the dish with fresh vinegar and dish soap as needed.
Using apple cider vinegar is a simple and effective way to control fungus gnats, but it is not a permanent solution. It is important to address the root causes of the infestation, such as overwatering or poor soil drainage, to prevent the gnats from returning.
Fungus gnats can be a frustrating pest to deal with, but with proper prevention and treatment, it is possible to get rid of them for good. Preventative measures such as avoiding overwatering and improving soil drainage can help create an environment that is less favorable to fungus gnats.
Home remedies such as using apple cider vinegar or sticky traps can also be effective in reducing their population. In severe cases, commercial insecticides may be necessary to fully eliminate the infestation. By identifying the signs of a fungus gnat infestation early and taking action, you can protect your plants and keep your home or garden free from these pesky insects.
While fungus gnats are not harmful to humans, they can cause damage to plants. The larvae of fungus gnats feed on the roots of plants, which can stunt their growth and even kill them. Additionally, fungus gnats can spread plant diseases, such as damping off, which can be fatal to young plants.
Yes, commercial insecticides are available that can be effective in eliminating a fungus gnat infestation. However, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and use the product safely.
The time it takes to completely eliminate a fungus gnat infestation can vary depending on the severity of the infestation and the treatment methods used. In some cases, it may take several weeks or even months to fully eradicate the population.