How to get rid of gnats in plants? This question worries almost all gardeners who are faced with such an unpleasant phenomenon. If you spot these little black insects near your plants, don’t panic. These plant flies are much less damaging than many other pests, and better yet, they’re pretty easy to get rid of.
What Are Fungus Gnats?
Before we figure out how to get gnats out of your houseplants, let’s first find out what these midges are. Long legs, translucent wings, and a preference for nutrient-rich, damp soils distinguish fungus gnats. You could observe these small flies flying around plant containers, but unlike other more damaging pests, you won’t see them chewing on the plant’s leaf. They will, however, be seen feeding on plant root hairs and other organic debris in the soil. However, these vulnerabilities may still inflict significant damage if left unchecked.
While adult fungus gnats have a short lifespan of approximately a week, they may have a big influence in that time, depositing up to 300 eggs under the correct conditions. With such a quick turnaround and a short life cycle of about 3-4 weeks, populations can spread quite quickly.
The main harm to the plant is brought not by the midges themselves, but by their larvae, which develop in moist acidic soil and feed on the delicate roots, thereby undermining the main vitality of the plant. A plant with a damaged root system usually gets sick, wilts, does not bloom, and, as a result, may die. The harm caused by adult fungus gnats cannot be called crushing. The problem is that they just spoil the look of the plant. However, if the number of midges increases, they begin to feed on the aerial parts of the plant, while preferring tender young shoots. To understand how to remove gnats from plants, you need to know the channels of their penetration. They can enter, for example, through ventilation, or with a bouquet brought from the forest. Particularly well suited for them are rooms with a warm and humid climate. Another popular habitat for them is food waste, such as rotten fruits or vegetables.
Before we answer the question of how to get rid of houseplant gnats, it is necessary to understand what attracts them. After all, even if you seem to have completely got rid of them, they can appear again. Let’s find out, why do my plants have gnats?
Why Does My Plant Have Gnats?
Fungus gnats deposit their eggs in wet soil and feed on the fungus that grows there. Overwatering is the leading cause of infestations in houseplants. Many individuals believe they are incapable of caring for plants. They’re probably simply overwatering them in actuality! The majority of typical houseplants do not require as much water as people believe.
Signs of Fungus Gnats
It’s rather simple to tell whether your plant is infested. Because these plant flies aren’t very good at flying, they like to stick close to the plant. They’ll probably be zooming about in zigzag patterns. Because of their rapid reproduction rate, it’s usual to witness all phases of this pest at the same time. You’ll probably observe some bugs in their larval stage if you carefully move the soil. They have translucent bodies and black, gleaming heads, and they feed on organic substances in the soil. When our plants prepare for the cold season, populations of these pesky insects are nearing their peak. Dormant plants require less water at this period, so their soil stays wet for longer. Wet soils, which promote root rot and fungus, are gnat breeding grounds. If you bring your fragile plants inside to overwinter, you risk introducing unwelcome pests into your house.
Your plants will begin to show indications of stress if they are left unchecked and neglected. Fungus gnats do not directly harm plant leaves, but they eat root hairs and deplete the soil of important minerals. This can cause quick withering and yellowing of plant leaves, as well as sluggish growth and general vigor loss.
Now that we know what they look like and why they appear, let’s finally measure up, what kills plant gnats?
How to Get Gnats Out of Plants
Create a Watering Schedule That Works for You
Establishing a proper watering schedule will aid in the destruction of any eggs or larva in the soil. In addition, it can keep fungus gnats out in the future. Before watering, ensure the top few inches of soil are completely dry (for more common houseplants).
Use Sticky Fly Traps
If you are seriously thinking about how to kill gnats in plants, then it is not enough just to set up a watering schedule. And one of the best ways to get rid of gnats in plants is to use special fly traps. You can buy cheap yellow flypaper, cut it into strips, and staple it to special sticks. Alternatively, you could simply hang it up. These are excellent for managing adult populations of these pests since the yellow tint of the fly traps attracts the adult gnat populations. They perish after becoming trapped in the very sticky yellow flypaper.
Vinegar Can Also Be Used in Treating Gnats in Houseplants
If you are wondering how to keep gnats away from plants only with the help of improvised means, then this method is for you. Vinegar is an easy and effective approach to managing adult gnat populations. In addition to sticky traps, this is a fantastic choice. Fill a small, shallow basin halfway with vinegar and a few drops of dish soap. As it fills up with dead gnats, refresh it every few days. This is something they like.
Sprinkle the Soil in Sand or Gravel
Getting rid of gnats in houseplants is also possible with a little sand or gravel. Since they deposit their eggs in the topsoil, covering the soil with gravel or sand can help keep them out. You can also do it with ornamental sand or pebbles, but this method is not for everyone. However, some people like this approach. It’s definitely worth a chance.
The Mixture of Hydrogen Peroxide Can Help
In addition to vinegar, hydrogen peroxide is another option for fungus gnat control that you probably already have in your home. To destroy all of them, irrigate dry soil with a mixture of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 5 parts water. Your houseplants would not suffer – just don’t use pure hydrogen peroxide!
Use a Pesticide That Has a Systemic Effect
To destroy unwanted insects in the soil, you can also apply a systemic pesticide. Pesticides may be worked into the top few inches of the soil, and when the plant is watered, the insecticide kills everything. Fungus gnats are simpler to get rid of than other pests, therefore you probably don’t need this large dose of pesticide.
How to Keep Gnats off Plants
We have prepared for you a couple of tips that you can use as a preventive measure.
The soil is disinfected before planting – heated in an oven or microwave, exposed to frost, steamed, or spilled with potassium permanganate. In any container for plants, drainage is required, and in the bottom, there are holes for draining excess liquid. Watering in the cool season is optimized: the soil should be dry from above, but most at a depth of 1-2 inches. It is better to water not from above, but from a pallet. It is necessary to water with water settled during the day, not forgetting to loosen the top layer of soil after. Loosening is a necessary operation when caring for indoor plants. This is the only way to provide the roots with oxygen, eliminating the process of decay. To dry the soil in a pot, pour a little sand on top, after calcining it.
Fungus gnats do not carry illnesses that are harmful to humans, but they can influence the health of your houseplants. As soon as you notice a problem, you should not let everything take its course and hope that everything will be solved by itself. And plants will repay the favor with a lush, healthy appearance that will brighten your house while keeping pests away.
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