The first frost will be upon Long Island soon, so it’s time to start over-wintering your plants. One issue that arises during the process of moving your beautiful plants inside, is fungus gnats. These little buggers fly everywhere once inside, and always seem to be right by your face. Born in damp soil, the larvae are 1/4-inch with a shiny black head and a long white, transparent body. They feed on root hairs, fungi and other organic materials which can damage tender plant roots. Larvae need two weeks of feeding in the soil before reaching the pupal stage and finally full adulthood. Symptoms that indicate fungus gnats (besides the adult gnats flying around) include sudden wilting, loss of vigor and yellowing. Some plants that are especially prone to gnats are Geraniums, African Violets, Carnations and Poinsettias. Here is a list of tips that you can use, to combat these minuscule pests for good.
- First figure out which plant is hosting the gnats. You can do this by sticking yellow sticky traps in each plant. After a couple of days it will be crystal clear where the epicenter of your problem is.
- Since fungus gnats do well in damp soil, it is best not to overwater. Especially in the winter when plants use much less water. Allow the soil to dry to a depth of one to two inches between waterings to help eliminate larvae and eggs. Not only will this kill any preexisting gnats, it makes the soil un-appealing to egg bearing females.
- Another way to use that magical yellow sticky tape is to place strips horizontally at the soil surface to capture any egg laying adults. Gnats are attracted to the bright yellow color.
- If letting your plants dry out isn’t doing the trick, you can try using a sprinkle of either Gnat Nix or Mosquito Bits along the top of the soil. This will disrupt the gnats life cycle at any point in their life-cycle.
- An all natural and home-made remedy gnat insecticide also can work. To make this, mix together peppermint, cinnamon and sesame oil. This also works for other types of insects that gather around windows.
- If you are not about putting any dressings into your plants, another option is to put Beneficial Nematodes in the soil. Nematodes are microscopic round worms that penetrate fungus gnatlarvae (as well as harmful lawn and garden grubs, fleas, and other soil-borne pests) and then release a bacterium that consumes the pe
st from the inside out. The long-lasting Nematodes are safe for use around pets, plants and of course- your family.
- You can even buy the natural predator of fungus gnats. It’s name is Hypoaspis Aculeifer and is a tiny and effective killer of the gnats. Upon release, they create a slow and steady decline in
pest numbers. This insect attacks the larvae and feeds on their contents. Release 10,000 predators per 200-1,000 square feet depending on pest levels.
A helpful tip when buying potted plants from the store, carefully turn up the soil near the base of the plant and look for glossy, clear larvae. Reject any plant that sends up flying gnats.
Thank you to Plant Natural for the original information. You can read more here.