Plant Tips: Fungas Gnats

It is time to reduce your watering schedule. With the shorter days that winter brings, you can expect houseplant growth to slow and as a result, they require less water. One consequence of overwatering is the development of fungus gnats and shoreflies. They will not live or reproduce anywhere in your home but in soil. There is no real need to worry. However, if you’ve ever had these small pests in your home you know just how much of a nuisance these little guys can be. 

These small insects  feed off of the protein in decomposing organic matter and thrive in wet environments. Besides the damage that soggy soil can do to the roots of plants, it also makes for the perfect home for these little guys. While fungus gnats and shoreflies are more likely to test your patience than they are to harm you or your houseplants, we still recommend taking preventative measures. The most important of which is to allow the topsoil of your plants to dry between irrigations. Without consistently wet soil conditions, root rot won’t occur and your creepy-crawlies won’t have a food source or suitable habitat.
If your bugs have already made a nice home for themselves in your potted plants, don’t worry. There are some easy steps you can take to be rid of them.

Top dress a half-inch of play sand to the surface of your plant’s soil. Do not mix it in the soil, simply lay it on top. The fungus gnats and shoreflies will not be able to drill through the sand to lay eggs; eventually they expire and there won’t be offspring to replace them.

It can take about a week for the adults to die off so in the meantime if you can’t stand these little pests flying about, try out some sticky traps. These insects  are attracted to the bright yellow colour and when they land on the paper they become stuck in place. The traps are often attached to a small stake that goes into your pot’s soil, collecting any adults that are trying to penetrate the sand layer. 

Carnivorous plants are another means of getting rid of the adults that are flying around. They attract insects with sweet-smelling nectar and, similar to the sticky traps, prevent the fungus gnats from escaping. These plants feed off of the protein that comes from insects. 

Following these simple steps should help you get rid of those pesky bugs in no time.

Happy planting!

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