Flies and gnats buzzing around are not only annoying, but they could also mean a sign of decomposing matter. A common, but little known pest might be living and breeding in areas you least expect it. No, I’m not talking about the fruit fly, but the fungus gnat. In this article, I will show you how to first confirm you have fungus gnats and then a guaranteed method to get rid of them from plants.
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The fungus gnat is a tiny fly with long, thin legs and wings, resembling a mosquito. As their name would suggest, they’re commonly feeding off decaying organic material, such as fungi. Fungus gnats thrive indoors because of good moisture levels and can grow their population to large numbers rapidly.
While they typically don’t cause any harm to us, they can be a nuisance and can damage vegetation around the home.
4 Step process to get rid of gnats from plants
So, we’ll get started with the first step of our process:
1. Identification of gnats before getting rid of them from plants.
Identification is one of the most important steps in pest control. You want to make sure that what you are actually treating for is fungus gnats. Fungus gnats can often be mistaken for mosquitoes just because of their similar appearance.
The problem is, eliminating these pests require completely different control methods, so you need to be sure. The adult fungus gnat is very small, typically around an eighth of an inch in length. They will usually be dark brown to black in color.
Their long legs, wings, and antennae are features that will help you distinguish them from other common flying pests, like fruit drain and phorid flies. They resemble mosquitoes, but a key difference is fungus gnats do not bite.
So if you see them land on you and go in for a meal, it’s definitely not a fungus gnat. You can also distinguish the two easily by noting where you found them, which we will get into in our next step.
It’s also important to recognize the fungus gnat larvae. Fungus gnat larvae have worm-like bodies. They can be up to a fourth of an inch long and have dark, shiny heads. Our next step in the process is inspection.
2. Inspection of plants to get rid of gnats
Inspection is also a crucial step to control because it helps you confirm fungus gnat activity and also tells you where they are coming from. If you don’t treat in the right spots, you won’t get effective control.
Fungus gnats need a moist environment with decaying matter like fungi to feed on. An often overlooked and extremely common place is potted plants, specifically the potted soil. This is how you can help identify a fungus gnat over a mosquito.
Adult fungus gnats are usually seen buzzing around or moving about in potted plants and soil. This is also why you need to know what the larvae look like.
What happens is, the fungus gnat larvae will actually feed on the fungi in the soil and the roots of the plant. If there is enough larvae and fungi to go around, then they could eventually damage your plants.
Adult fungus gnats will not harm people or plants and are just generally considered a nuisance. The larvae is the problem.
If you have moisture and fungus growing elsewhere like under the sink or near leaky pipes, they might be found there as well.
The third step of the process is control.
3. Control of fungus gnats from plants
To get control of fungus gnats, the first thing you need to do is remove the moisture around your home. Be sure to fix any leaky pipes or any moisture areas that you might have.
If you’re finding them around plants, this is a good sign that you are overwatering and that the soil needs to be dried. Do your best to minimize how much and how often you water.
It’s a good idea to let the top one to three inches of soil to dry before watering again. You might also consider using a spray bottle to simply mist the plant. You can even place a raw potato on the soil to soak up some of the moisture.
Just don’t forget about it, or it will rot and invite more pests in. For plants and soil outside, improve any spots with poor drainage. And when that’s complete, it’s time for chemical control. The items you will need are a Musca-Stik fly trap, Reclaim IT insecticide, a pump sprayer, and Pyrid aerosol.
These products will give you total control of more than just fungus gnats. Pesticides like Reclaim IT and Pyrid can control and many other pests such as roaches, mosquitoes, ants, bed bugs, or spiders.
First, use the Musca-Stik fly trap. The Musca-Stik flytrap is a sticky glue trap that is free of pesticides. It uses a combination of orange paper, glue, and a pheromone attractant to lure and trap the gnats.
First, sprinkle the supplied attractant into the catch basin on the bottom of the stick. Hang this in areas where you have seen fungus gnat activity.
Trapping is a great method of eliminating adult fungus gnats after you’ve reduced all the moisture around your home. Next, use Reclaim IT to spray your plants.
Reclaim IT is a powerful liquid concentrate that provides a quick knockdown, 90 days residual, and will treat a large variety of pests.
What’s great about Reclaim is that it is not a single-use pesticide like you get at big box stores. Depending on what you are treating, you’re only going to use an ounce or two of the liquid, so it will potentially last you years. Mix this with water, following label instructions, in a pump sprayer.
Spray the Reclaim IT over plants and in the soil beds. This will kill and destroy any living larvae or eggs. For indoor plants, remove them from the house and treat outside. Allow them to completely dry before bringing them back into the house.
Finally, if you are still seeing fungus gnats flying around inside your home, use a contact spray like Pyrid for a quick kill. Pyrid is a powerful insecticide that is great for contact spraying and works as a flushing agent for pests harboring deep in cracks and crevices.
Spray around the plants or areas where you see activity. Pyrid does not have a residual, so make sure the insect comes into contact with the spray for the best results.
You can use a fogger, but we generally recommend using Pyrid because of its ease of use and the freedom to treat wherever you want.
The final step of the process is prevention.
4. Prevention tips
Without preventing and eliminating conducive conditions, you might be right back to deal with fungus gnats after the chemicals wear off.
Be sure to monitor any moisture levels around your home. Make sure that you address and fix any leaky pipes, damp soil, or areas with poor drainage. And make sure you spray Reclaim IT every 3 months outside to prevent a reinfestation.
That is the Solutions four step process to get rid of fungus gnats from plants. Hope you like this article. Please share and spread love for gardening.