How to Get Rid of Gnats in Houseplants

How to Get Rid of Gnats in Houseplants

September 30, 2020

Are Your Plants Host to Uninvited Guests?


If you love houseplants, chances are you've had to deal with the annoyance of fungus gnats, also known as soil gnats. These small, dark-colored flying insects look similar to fruit flies, But they aren't so interested in ripening fruit. Instead, they live in the soil of your indoor plants, with their larvae feeding on plant roots and fungi. The adult gnats make their irksome presence known when you water your plants or disturb the soil somehow. Why are they in your home, and what can you do to make them feel less welcome? MosquitoNix® has helpful tips for how to get rid of gnats on plants.

How Do Fungus Gnats Enter Your Home?

While fungus gnats are a nuisance, they are not dangerous. They don't care much about your family or pets. Fungus gnats are attracted to the moist potting soil and decaying plant matter at the base of indoor plants. Their larvae may have been present when you got the plant at a store or nursery, so they weren't visible until after you brought your plants home.

Your unsuspected gnat nursery comes to life when the eggs hatch and larvae feast on fungus and decaying matter in the soil. They turn into adults, lay eggs, and the whole lifecycle continues. Infestation can also occur if you put your houseplants outside for a while. Fungus gnats don't bite and usually don't cause harm to mature healthy plants. However, young seedlings and fragile plants can set off yellowing, stunted growth or even death.


How Can You Make Fungus Gnats Leave?

Wondering how to get rid of gnats in the house, which buzz exasperatingly around you and your plants? Even though your first instinct might be to grab the bug spray, this is a limited solution because more gnats will simply hatch from the eggs in the soil.

More effective measures to rid your home and plants of fungus gnats involve targeting the larvae. Consider these simple ways to say goodbye to pesky gnats for good:

  • Don't overwater your plants. Fungus gnats lay their eggs in the top inch of moist soil around the plant. Reducing excess moisture can hinder the eggs from developing into larvae. Allow the soil to dry out between watering - not to the point of the plant wilting, but leave enough time so that the soil is not continuously moist. The eggs and larvae usually die in dry soil, plus adult gnats are discouraged from laying new eggs. Furthermore, make sure your potted plants have adequate drainage. To prevent future gnat infestations, water your plants from the bottom so that the top layer of soil stays relatively dry.
  • Give soap and water a try. Add a few drops of liquid dish castile soap, available at many major retailers, to a cup of water. Spray the top of the soil with this mixture to kill the gnat larvae. Repeat this step in a few days to ensure you've destroyed all of them. That tiny amount won't harm your plants, but it's toxic to gnats.
  • Layer with sand or gravel. Since fungus gnats' eggs are in the top inch of soil, cover it with sand or gravel to create a dry environment. With the lack of moisture and fungus in the topsoil, on which to feed, adult gnats won't lay their eggs there.
  • Replace your soil. You might consider scooping the top inch of soil off your potted plant and disposing of it outdoors. Replace with fresh potting soil that has been in a sealed bag. Also, make it a habit to store unused potting soil in an airtight container to discourage gnats from possibly laying eggs.

Who Can You Turn to for More Help?

If you have trouble getting fungus gnats under control, call the friendly professionals at MosquitoNix. We offer superior pest control services to keep your home and yard free from unwanted insects. Contact us for a free estimate today.

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