Foolproof Fungus Gnat Killer That Actually Works

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Fungus gnats can be a major nuisance for plant parents, and it’s not uncommon to feel like giving up on your plants altogether when faced with an infestation. However, there is hope. By understanding the life cycle of fungus gnats, you can take steps to prevent and control them.

The cycle of a fungus gnat is simple – from egg to larva to pupa to adult. While the adult gnats are a nuisance, it’s the larva that can damage roots and stunt plant growth. Preventative measures such as inspecting plants before purchasing, quarantining new plants, and avoiding over-watering can help reduce the chances of an infestation. Additionally, using products like mosquito bits can help control the population of fungus gnats. In the following section, we will explore these preventative and control measures in more detail.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the life cycle of fungus gnats is important in preventing and controlling infestations.
  • Preventative measures such as inspecting plants before purchasing and avoiding over-watering can help reduce the chances of an infestation.
  • Products like mosquito bits can be used to control the population of fungus gnats.
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Understanding Fungus Gnats

Life Cycle of a Fungus Gnat

Fungus gnats go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adult gnats are the ones that fly around, but they don’t cause damage to plants or bite people. The real problem lies with the larvae, which can damage roots and stunt plant growth, especially in young plants and seedlings.

When an adult female fungus gnat lays eggs in moist soil at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, they take about three days to hatch. The larvae stage lasts for about 10 days, during which they feed on everything in the soil, from dead roots to organic matter and the plant’s feeder roots. Afterward, they develop into a pupa, and about four days later, an adult emerges and lives for about a week. During this time, each female can lay up to 200 eggs, making it challenging to control the cycle without a proper plan.

Adult Gnats vs. Larvae

Although adult gnats are a nuisance, they don’t cause damage to plants or bite people. The real problem lies with the larvae, which can damage roots and stunt plant growth, especially in young plants and seedlings. One way to determine if what you’re seeing flying around are indeed fungus gnats is by setting up a few yellow sticky traps in your plants. These traps can help get rid of a few gnats, but they won’t be your main line of defense.

To reduce the population of fungus gnats, inspect your plants before purchasing them and quarantine new plants for a month. Check the roots and leaves for pests, especially the underside of the leaves where pests like to hide. Try not to overwater your plants, as fungus gnats like moist soil. Determine the watering requirements for the plants you’re caring for and stick to them. A moisture meter or wooden dial can help you determine when to water your plants.

To control fungus gnats, use mosquito bits containing the active ingredient Bti, a bacterium that kills fungus gnat larvae on contact. To use mosquito bits, add four tablespoons to a gallon of water and pour the solution into your watering can. Water your plants slowly and until water flows out the drainage holes. Top watering will allow you to apply the solution directly to the top of the soil, where the eggs are and the highest concentration of larvae. Use this treatment twice, with at least two weeks in between each treatment. If you still see fungus gnats after the fourth week, give your plants one more treatment.

To prevent fungus gnats from coming back, keep the top layer of soil dry, where the adults lay their eggs. By managing your water better, you can remove their perfect environment and prevent them from coming back.

Identifying Fungus Gnats

Using Yellow Sticky Traps

To determine if the flying insects around your plants are fungus gnats, you can use yellow sticky traps. These traps can be found at your local garden center or online. The yellow color of the traps attracts the fungus gnats, and when they land on the card, they get stuck to it. This makes it easier for you to identify them.

However, yellow sticky traps won’t be your main line of defense to try and reduce the population. They can help get rid of a few, but you need a plan in place to control them effectively.

Preventing Fungus Gnats

Inspecting Plants Before Purchase

To prevent fungus gnats from infesting your plants, it is important to inspect them before purchasing. Check for any signs of pests, including fungus gnats, by shaking the plant gently and observing if anything flies around. Look closely at the roots and leaves, especially the underside of the leaves, where pests tend to hide.

Quarantine New Plants

Quarantine new plants for a month to prevent the spread of pests to other plants. Find an area within your home that is as far as possible from your other plants to place your new plant. During this time, monitor your plant and check the roots and leaves for pests.

Watering Practices

Fungus gnats thrive in moist soil, so it is important to not overwater your plants. Research the specific watering requirements for your plants and avoid watering before it is time. Use a moisture meter or wooden dial to check the moisture level of your plant’s soil before watering. Keep the top layer of soil dry to remove the perfect environment for fungus gnats to lay their eggs.

By following these preventative measures, you can reduce the population of fungus gnats and prevent them from infesting your plants. In case you already have an infestation, use mosquito bits, which contain the active ingredient Bti that kills the fungus gnat larvae on contact. Water your plants thoroughly with the solution twice, with at least two weeks in between each treatment. After the fourth week, if fungus gnats are gone, the treatment is complete. Keep the top layer of soil dry to prevent the return of fungus gnats.

Controlling Fungus Gnats

Mosquito Bits Treatment

To control fungus gnats, one can use mosquito bits treatment. Mosquito bits contain a bacterium called Bti, which kills the fungus gnat larva on contact. By eradicating the larva, one can break the life cycle of the fungus gnat. To use mosquito bits, one can add four tablespoons of it to a gallon of water. After waiting for 30 minutes for the active ingredient to disperse throughout the water, one can pour the solution into a watering can and water all the plants in the room where fungus gnats are observed. It is important to thoroughly saturate the soil by watering slowly until water flows out the drainage holes. Top watering will allow one to apply the solution directly to the top of the soil, where the eggs are and where there is the highest probability of having the highest concentration of larva. One can use this treatment twice, with at least two weeks in between each treatment. If after the fourth week, there are no more fungus gnats, the treatment is complete. If not, one can give the plants one more treatment. The life cycle of a fungus gnat is about 28 days, depending on the temperature, so three treatments should be enough to cover it.

Water Management

Another way to prevent and break the fungus gnat life cycle is to manage water properly. Fungus gnats like the soil to be moist, so keeping the top layer of soil dry can remove their perfect environment. After applying the mosquito bits treatment or anytime one is watering and not using the tea solution, bottom watering can be used. Bottom watering allows the water to be absorbed from the bottom of the pot, which keeps the top layer of soil dry. By doing a better job of managing water, one can prevent fungus gnats from coming back. It is important to do research and find out specifically what the watering requirements are for the plants one is caring for. Overwatering can cause root rot and provide a better environment for fungus gnats to lay their eggs and live off the decaying matter and plant roots. Using a moisture meter or a wooden dial to check the moisture level of the plant prior to watering can help determine when to water.

Conclusion

Fungus gnats can be a nuisance for houseplant owners, but there is hope. Understanding the life cycle of fungus gnats is key to preventing and eliminating them. Sticky traps can help identify fungus gnats, but they should not be relied upon as the main line of defense. Inspecting plants prior to purchasing them, quarantining new plants, and not over-watering are preventative measures that can be taken.

To control fungus gnats, MonstroFarm recommends using mosquito bits containing the active ingredient Bti, which kills the larva on contact. The mosquito bits should be added to water and applied directly to the top of the soil where the eggs are. Thoroughly saturating the soil is important and the treatment should be repeated twice with at least two weeks in between. Managing water by keeping the top layer of soil dry can also help prevent fungus gnats from coming back.

By following these tips, houseplant owners can prevent and eliminate fungus gnats, keeping their plants healthy and thriving.