There is an extensive list of tiny creatures that we come across in our daily life. House flies, honey bees, bugs, mosquitoes are present everywhere. From this list, we can find the insects that harm human life. There are some who merely cause any serious harm to people’s health but have adverse implications for other creatures like plants. In this list, a plant harming an animal is fungus gnats.
In appearance, they look more like house flies. According to their small size, they resemble the mosquitoes. They are very tiny and usually have colors ranging from gray to black. The fungus gnats have a size measuring 2 ½ millimeters. The body has small and thin legs attached to them. Two antennas much larger than the head are attached on the either sides of the head. A pair of wings is affixed on each side of the body. They are gray in appearance and do not fly much. Instead of flying they either rest or run across the planted areas filled with excessive water. These creatures remain close to the areas where water has gathered. They house near the potted plants.
If your plants are becoming a victim of the fungus gnats, then the article below can help you find more about the pest in your surroundings.
Table of Contents
- Lifecycle & Biology
- How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats
- 1. Blow Air over Soil
- 2. Treat Top Layer of Soil with Neem Oil
- 3. Apply Diatomaceous Earth
- 4. Put out Yellow Sticky Traps
- 5. Check Daily
- 6. If you Have a Really Bad Infestation, Use Insecticides
- 7. Inspect Your Plants Before Purchase
- 8. Treat the Soil With Nematodes
- 9. Avoid Damp Soils
- 10. Make Cider Vinegar Traps
One of the tiny creatures that are abundantly found around us are the fungus gnats. They are dark in color and have a little life as compared to other small animals. They can be classified into six different families namely Sciaridae, Diadocidiidae, Ditomyiidae, Keroplatidae, Bolitophilidae, and Mycetophilidae. All these families further fall under the superfamily called Sciaroidea. Once in the larvae stage, they prefer eating fungus and decayed plants.
They play an essential role in decomposing the organic matter. Some of these species are predators by nature. They are a great help in the pollination especially in the pollination of the mushroom spores. The length of an adult fungus gnat is 2–8 millimeters. These species carry the germs of a particular disease called pythium. They are not very good at flying and prefer having a quick walk on the plants and soil. While flying in the air, they can bother the human life by hovering around them. They are present both in the indoors and outdoors. You will find them mostly close to the standard drain flies.
Lifecycle & Biology
A female fungus gnat lays 20 to 30 clusters of 300 white eggs. The eggs are either found on the surface or in the crevices of the damp regions. The flower pots make a perfect place for their eggs. Once the eggs are laid it takes them six days to hatch. Within 12 to 14 days they convert into a pupa. The pupa has a silky chamber around it. After five to six days the pupa grows into an adult fungus gnat that survives for only ten days. The complete life cycle takes almost four weeks. The duration can vary according to the climatic conditions. With increasing temperature the lifecycle shrinks and vice versa.
Fungus gnats are known for their extraordinary hardiness. They are adamant and resilient to unfavorable conditions. Their body is made out of a different antifreeze protein that helps them in fighting the freezing temperature. Due to these proteins, the fungus gnats can either prevent from freezing or can fight against the chilly winters. Excechia nugatory is an unusual species that has both the tendencies. In this species, the proteins keep the head and thorax safe from freezing. The abdomen on the other stays unprotected. As the abdomen is unprotected hence this species of the fungus gnat reaches the semi-frozen state in winters. A frozen abdomen prevents excessive evaporation of water content in winters.
Fungus gnats are the small creatures that hardly cause any harm to human life except for annoying them. They are more problematic and cursing for the plantations. They secrete an important pathogen that is further transmitted to the plants. It ultimately results in the weakened plants. Their primary targets are the fungal roots lie those of Fusarium and Pythium. It also carries certain foliage pathogens. The significant proportion of the fungus gnat food is the roots of several plants.
As they are little living creatures, therefore, their impact stays as long as they are alive. The other side of the picture has a different story. They can cause maximum harm in this little period. In this one week, the female lays eggs that are enough to give rise to hundreds of gnats. By the time you try to overcome one lot, the new ones are ready to hatch from the egg. The cycle continues multiplying the impact of the fungus gnats.
How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats
Once the fungus gnats are traced around your plantations or in the flower pots, it is time to get rid of them as soon as possible. The remedies can be both chemical and non-chemical. A full range of powder and spray are abundantly found in the pest stores to deal with the gnats. For those who look forward to a proper removal, non-chemical remedies are also there. These are the DIY methods of getting rid of the fungus gnats. The most important treatment is to reduce the watering sessions. Give the amount of water that is required. Don’t exceed the limit that is easily absorbed instead of staying on the surface. Some easy to follow steps to get rid of the fungus gnats are as follows:
1. Blow Air over Soil
If some additional water is accumulated on the surface use air to blow it away. The air will dry away the water that is the reason behind the development of the fungus gnats. Getting rid of excess water means getting rid of fungus gnats and securing your plantations.
2. Treat Top Layer of Soil with Neem Oil
Neem oil is an excellent remedy against various pests. Like many other parasites, it works well against the fungus gnats too. If you wish to attain the desired results from the neem oil; it must be sprayed evenly on the surface of the soil that is affected by the fungus gnats. The neem oil is filled into a spray bottle and then sprayed on the surface. It is an instant and natural way to get rid of the fungus gnats. The neem oil works in a multidimensional manner. It not just kills the fungus gnats but also hits hard against all the other pests also.
3. Apply Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a kind of soft sedimentary rock that is powdered. It has the tendency to absorb the moisture and the water content that is not required. It is readily available in the shape of powdered dust in the stores. If you have a patch of soil that is affected by the fungus gnats, then spread the layer of diatomaceous earth evenly on the land with the help of the powder duster. The diatomaceous earth is safe for internal use also. It is highly effective against all stages of the gnats. It is safe for domestic interiors as it has no negative implications for the health of the humans.
4. Put out Yellow Sticky Traps
A simple way to get rid of the fungus gnats is to take help of the yellow traps available in the market. These traps are smeared with a layer of a sticky solution. As the pest or the insect crosses the sticky tape trap, it gets attached to it. This trap is also human It has nothing to harm the human life.
5. Check Daily
“Prevention is better than cure.” Before the things get out of hand, it is better to check their development on a regular basis. If you feel that there are some signs of the presence of the fungus gnats, then start looking for their signs regularly. In some cases, you might have to treat the inflicted area with the desired treatment regularly as well.
6. If you Have a Really Bad Infestation, Use Insecticides
If the easy to follow DIY methods are not sufficient enough, then it is better to switch to an insecticide. There is a wide range of insecticides available in the market. For a better remedial solution, you can seek the help of a pest expert also. Visiting the pet store can also be a great assist in fighting against the fungus Bacteria BT and the Hydrogen Peroxide are excellent insecticides against the fungus gnats.
7. Inspect Your Plants Before Purchase
You may want to know how to get rid of gnats in plants, but let’s start with purchasing your plants. When purchasing plants, you should be inspecting the plants for any pests that may have already infested the plant.
I have went into plenty of garden centers that already have fungus gnats in their plants.
When you bring the plants home, you will have gnats already invading your space. One way to check the plant is to turn up the soil near the base of the plant. You’ll want to do this very carefully to ensure that you do not damage the plant in the process.
You’ll want to inspect the soil to see if you spot any glossy, clear larvae which may be present.
If you see any flying gnats leaving the plant when you dig into the soil, choose another plant or go to another store.
Bringing plants into your home that have already been infested with gnats will increase your risk of spreading gnats to other plants in your collection.
8. Treat the Soil With Nematodes
Nematodes are a great option and can be very beneficial for all of the plants that you own. What you’ll want to do is to top dress any of the houseplants that you have with these beneficial nematodes.
The nematodes will work to kill the gnats, and many other pests, during the larvae stage.
Nematodes are very small, roundworms that are microscopic in size. When placed into the soil, these worms will work to penetrate the larvae. You don’t have to worry about these worms harming beneficial worms, like earthworms, either.
When the larvae have been penetrated, the worm will release a bacterium which will consume the larvae from the inside out. What’s great about Nematodes is that they’re long-lasting and safe to use around pets and children.
These beneficial worms will also kill the larvae of:
- Smaller soil-based pests
Even if you do not have a fungus gnat infestation, nematodes can help clear your garden and plants of pests.
9. Avoid Damp Soils
Gnats thrive in damp soil, and if you make the plant’s environment less attractive to gnats, they will be less likely to invade your plants. The inexperienced plant owner will often overwater their plants trying to make sure that the soil is always moist.
This is not optimal when dealing with gnats.
Plants may or may not need to be watered often. You’ll want to do research on the plants that you’re growing to determine what soil is best for your desired plant. Winter months, when the sun is less abundant, will also require less watering.
When potting your plant, you can also make the environment less friendly by leaving any material out of the pot that will hold on to water. Peat moss, for example, will hold on to water and even encourages gnats to lay eggs.
Do not use these materials if you already have a problem with gnat fungus.
If you already have an issue with gnats, you’ll want to allow the soil to dry between waterings. The soil should be allowed to dry up to two inches in depth for optimal results. The drying will do a few beneficial things:
- Kills larvae
- Inhibits egg development
- Creates a less attractive soil
You’ll also find commercial top dressings that can be used to further reduce the pest population.
10. Make Cider Vinegar Traps
Cider-vinegar traps are a great, effective way to be able to kill gnats. You’ll need a few items to get started:
- Small container, ideally a tuna can
- A bottle of apple cider vinegar
- A small amount of water
- Liquid dish soap
Making your trap is easy, and all that you’ll need to do is add equal parts of water and apple cider vinegar into a container or can. Adding these ingredients into a can and mixing it up well is all that you need to do.
Feel free to use a spoon to mix up the mixture.
You’ll want to have a depth of at least ¼-inch liquid. Finally, add a few drops of liquid dish soap into the mixture and stir gently. The can should be placed as close to the base of the plant as possible. The ideal location will be to put the container on the top soil at the root of the plant.
The fungus gnats will fly into the mixture and day.
This method does require you to check the mixture daily and replace as necessary. You’ll need to replace the mixture once every few days.
Keep in mind that your apple cider vinegar traps will only be able to kill the adult fungus gnats that you’re dealing with. You will need to kill the larvae that are inside of your soil. Using nematodes is the ideal option.
Diatomaceous earth will also work very well and can be confidently added to the top soil. You’ll want to make sure to spread thoroughly and in key areas, such as at the base of the plant and on the inside edges of the pot.
Sometimes the tiny creatures cannot be underestimated. If their impact is not checked at the earlier stages, it can be devastating. These small gray seldom flies stay close to the plantation areas that are having water more than what is required. They attack the roots of the plants making them weak. The fungus gnats do not cause serious harm to the human health in a way similar to the plants.
There are numerous possible ways to fight the dangers and damages caused by the fungus gnats. They can be dealt with the domestically found DIY solutions and also with the help of pesticides and insecticides available in the markets. If the situation becomes gruesome, you can consult the pest control experts as well as a better result. The complete eradication of the fungus gnats is possible if the regular check is carried out.