Knowing when to water your houseplants can be a tricky business, but fungus gnats are one reason to err on the side of letting them dry out a bit before re-watering. The preferred habitat of these pesky creatures is soils and potting mix, and they thrive when those mediums are damp.
Fungus gnats may remind you of mosquitoes, but unlike the blood-sucking nuisances they don’t bite people. However, in their larval stage, they can eat the roots of plants and they’re especially damaging to seedlings.
- Are very small, less than ⅛ inch long
- Have antennae and long legs
- Are light brown to black in color
- Feed on fungus, algae and decaying organic matter
- Are sometimes confused with fruit flies
You may discover that you have a fungus gnat problem when you see small insects flying around your houseplants. You may also see them at windows or other light sources, since they’re attracted to light. They aren’t very strong flyers, however, and so stay close to their breeding areas (the soil).
Female fungus gnats lay their eggs (up to 200 during their lifetime) in the top few inches of the potting medium or soil. When they hatch, the larvae resemble small, translucent worms with blackheads. It takes the insects about two weeks to go from the larval to the adult stage.
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- Avoid overwatering plants
- Allow the first inch or two of the soil in your potted plants to dry out before you water it again (the larvae can’t survive in the dry soil)
- Improve the drainage in your potted plants so that water doesn’t pool at the top
- Buy pasteurized potting mix, which has been treated to remove the larvae
- Use a specially-designated insecticide to kill the larvae
- Trap adults using sticky traps placed in the soil or close by the plants
Be especially careful if you take your indoor plants outdoors during the summer and bring them in again in the fall. Your plants may become infested with fungus gnats when they’re enjoying their time outside.
Even tiny pests can be a big nuisance in your home. Contact Brody Brothers today to schedule pest control today.