Control pesky fungus gnats on your plants with these easy remedies.
Like people, most house plants enjoy their time outside in the summer to bask in warm sunshine before you haul them back inside in the fall. Though the trip outside is good for your house plants’ health, it leaves your plants, or more accurately the dirt your plants grow in, open to some uninvited house guests.
Fungus gnats are tiny pests about 1/8 inch long that hang around the plants and window frames once the adults emerge from moist plant soil in your warm indoor air, usually in late fall. They get there after the adult female gnats lay eggs in the top few inches of soil. The larvae develop and turn into full-grown adults in only a few weeks. They don’t do tons of damage to the plants, but the larvae can chew roots. And the adult flies are annoying!
Getting Rid of Gnats
One way to cut down on gnats is to change how you water when you bring your plants inside. Your house plants typically need less water once summer is over and they make the trip back indoors, so let the top few inches of soil dry out between watering.
If you’ve had a problem with gnats in previous years and know they’re probably coming, you can lay yellow sticky tape horizontally across the rims of your house plants. That will catch some of the adults as they try to fly the coop.
Gee, have we mentioned before just a few uses for vinegar? Here’s another one. It might not keep the gnats off your plants, but it can help control them in your home. Pour about one-fourth inch of apple cider vinegar into a clear jar or plastic cup. Then add a few drops of dish soap. It’s an effective trap to use until they stop flying from the plant.
You can buy commercial insecticides for gnat control that can kill the larvae or the adult flies, but usually you only need to go this far if you’ve got lots of plants and a big gnat problem or have a greenhouse.
A New Clever Gnat Prevention Method
Some clever folks at a company called Growstone Inc have come up with a way to prevent gnats from hitchhiking on your house plants. They invented a product called Gnat Nix! that’s made from 100 percent recycled glass, but ends up as a light top dressing for your container soil. You can place a layer about one-half inch thick on the surface of your house plant’s soil and it disrupts the gnat’s life cycle.
It’s a great way to keep the pests from getting into your home, possibly harming young plants, and it’s all natural and recyclable. Just be sure to put the mix on before taking your plant outside, or as soon as possible after moving it, and water carefully to keep from disturbing the top layer.