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Fungus Gnats; Find the Point of Origin of Annoying Little Tiny Flying Bugs.

Updated on April 17, 2016
Fungus Gnats
Fungus Gnats | Source

Fungus Gnats

Fruit Fly

What are these tiny relentless flies, called Fungus Gnats?

Fungus Gnats are tiny flying insects often mistaken for a fruit fly. A Fungus Gnat is much smaller than a fruit fly, with a tiny black body (fruit flies are commonly tan, and have a very visible body). Most people notice that they have Fungus Gnats because the tiny flies will often try to fly in a person's nose, mouth and eyes, as the insects are attracted to the moisture. This trait causes them to be commonly reported as " little annoying flying insects". They can be especially irritating to someone who sits at a desk near the origination point of the Fungus Gnat infestation. Fungus Gnats feed on moist decaying organic material, and are found in house plants, they do not live on the plant itself, but in the soil, or some media that is on or under the plant.

The flying winged gnats are the adults. The adults lay eggs in soil where conditions are moist and there is decaying matter to feed upon. The eggs of the gnats hatch in the soil, and the larva live and feed on fungul material found within the soil. When the larva grow into adults they fly up out of the soil in search of new locations to procreate and feed.

Optimum clean soil surface free of organic decaying material.
Optimum clean soil surface free of organic decaying material. | Source
Dead Leaves; Fungus Gnat feeding ground.
Dead Leaves; Fungus Gnat feeding ground. | Source

How to get rid of Fungus Gnats.

In order to get rid of Fungus Gnats you must first identify where they are coming from, this is usually fairly simple. In the area where Fungus gnats have been seen, go to each plant and tap on the pot, if there are gnats they will begin to fly up out of the plant, and bingo, there is your point of origin.

You can also purchase "Gnat Traps". These yellow sticky tabs, like unto flypaper, are for posting in a plant, and there they will catch the adult Gnats that fly up out of the pot. When you find a Sticky trap covered in Gnat carcases it will be clear that you have found the infested plant.

Once you have Identified the offending plant its time to figure out what the gnats are eating. Look for the following food sources:

  • Overly Moist Soil, standing water in containers or pot liners are a primary cause of root rot and fungus growth.
  • Dead leaves, new leaf husks, food, garbage, any other debris on soil surface or down inside pots and liners.
  • Soil that contains organic material like wood chips.
  • Old dirty liners with fungal residue.

After the food source has been discovered on the offending plant, it simply must be removed. If the Fungus Gnats have no food source they can no longer live an reproduce.

  • For an over-watered plant you must begin drying out the soil. Over-watered plants get root rot, and rotten roots are a perfect food source for Fungus Gnats, not to mention over watering will eventually kill most houseplants.
  • If there are dead leaves, any kind of debris, etc in the soil, or inside liners or containers they must be removed.
  • Organic material in the soil is the most difficult to correct and save the plant in question. The easiest solution is to discard the plant. If you are fairly knowledgeable you may try re-potting the plant in proper indoor potting soil, but for this to be successful most of the old soil must be shaken away from the root system of the plant.
  • When a liner is found with build up residue and fungus wash it thoroughly or get a new one.

If you have exhausted all of the above measures and are still experiencing a Gnat problem there are soil additives on the market that kill the Fungus Gnat larva down in the soil, but this is only recommended if all other attempts of ridding yourself of the pests have failed.

How to prevent Fungus Gnat infestation.

The following are some simple tips to ensure that you do not develop a Fungus Gnat problem:

  • Water your houseplants with water only.
  • Give plants the proper amount of water, allow them to dry out between watering's.
  • Keep your plants clean. Remove dead leaves, garbage, debris, etc.
  • Always use indoor potting soil for indoor plants, do not add compost or wood chips to soil. Avoid purchasing any plants that have been potted up with soil that has organic material mixed in.

Goodbye Gnats

Following these simple tips of keeping your plant soil clear of organic material, and keeping your plants properly watered will work wonders for keeping your home or workspace free of obnoxious little fungus gnats, there is no need to throw away all your houseplants, all you need is a little know how.

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