What kills gnats in plants is a question that you may ask if you wish to get rid of them as soon as possible. However, some of the ways that you can tackle it are different from others, because of the infestation’s intensity, and the timing or recency that the plant has been exposed to them. Let’s explore why you have fungus gnats in your plants, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them from coming back, so continue reading to learn more.
- What Measures Kill Gnats in Plants in Different Ways?
What Measures Kill Gnats in Plants in Different Ways?
The ways to kill gnats in plants in different ways are to allow the soil to dry out, use sticky traps, or spray neem oil solution on them. In addition, you can also use a hydrogen peroxide mixture on them, apply insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, and keep the garden clean.
After knowing the possible reasons, you’ve already won half the battle. To completely obliterate them, consider using one or more of the following methods to get rid of gnats.
You must aim to remove them; although these pests do not pose significant harm to your plants, their larvae can cause damage to your garden. On the other hand, the gnat larvae feed on organic matter in the soil, including plant roots, which can lead to stunted growth and weakened plants.
– Allow Soil to Dry Out
Gnat control for your plants is all about letting the soil dry out. Fungus gnats thrive in moist environments, so adjusting their watering routine can disrupt their breeding cycle and reduce their numbers.
Overwatering is a common culprit behind any gnat infestation in plants, and if the matter is in the beginning phase of the first or second time that you excessively watered the plant, then letting it dry is the best option. When you give your plants too much water, the soil becomes overly moist, creating a perfect breeding ground for gnats to lay their eggs.
The excess moisture also leads to the buildup of organic matter like dead plants or fallen leaves, which becomes a food source for fungus gnat larvae to thrive; in short, keep the medium dry for a couple of days. As you see, the soil is no longer mushy and wet, but in this, the moisture creates an ideal environment for fungal growth, like root rot, which attracts gnats and worsens the fungus gnat problem.
Each plant has its own watering preferences, so it is important to know what your specific plants need. Some plants prefer consistently moist soil, while others benefit from allowing the soil to dry out a bit each time that you water them.
Look up the watering recommendations for your plants to provide them with the right conditions, and this can be an easy way to avoid gnats on your plants.
– Use Sticky Traps
Sticky fly traps are wonderful for dealing with gnats in plants. You can grab sticky yellow traps from gardening stores or online. They’re usually made of yellow cardboard or plastic coated with sticky stuff. Just take them out of the package, unfold them, and hang the sticky trap near your plants or where you spot the most gnats, close to the soil surface.
Check the traps regularly to see if any fungus gnats are caught. The yellow color attracts them, and they get stuck once they land on the sticky trap, and you replace the traps when they’re full or lose their stickiness. Keep using the traps until the fungus gnat population gets under control. It might take a while to see significant results, depending on how bad it is.
– Spray with Apple Cider Vinegar Mixture
Grab a small container or bowl and fill it halfway with vinegar from apple cider, which is irresistible for fungus gnats. Add a few drops of dish soap to the vinegar, which will help break the surface tension, making the gnats sink and drown when they touch the mixture.
This vinegar trick reduces the fungus gnat population, but remember it might not solve the root cause, like overly moist soil or overwatering. To prevent future infestations, tackle those underlying issues too.
This type of vinegar trap effectively reduces gnats, but don’t expect it to wipe them out completely. It works best with other preventive measures like properly watering and improving soil drainage.
You can also make sure to use it in such a way that you can spray on them, and not hurt your plants so; that you can mix a bit of sugar with two tablespoons of vinegar, a few drops of dish soap, and almost a cup of warm water, and this way you will spray and get rid of them.
– Apply Neem Oil Solutions
The oil derived from the neem tree works as an insecticide and can be found in garden centers or online. Get a good-quality, cold-pressed oil suitable for plants. To use this oil, dilute it as directed on the product label. Usually, mix a few drops of the oil with water in a spray bottle, and now you should shake well to combine.
Spray the diluted oil solution on affected plant areas, including leaves, stems, and soil, and now you should pay attention to fungus gnat hotspots. Apply in the cooler morning or evening hours to prevent leaf damage from sunlight. Repeat the application every few days or as instructed until the gnats are gone.
– Use Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture
This homemade item kills fungus gnat larvae by suffocating them through the release of oxygen when it contacts the soil. It also breaks down organic matter, reducing the larvae’s food source. To make this, get a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution from a drugstore and dilute it with water, so that it won’t harm your plant in the long run.
Use a ratio of one part of the solution to four parts of water. Transfer the solution to a watering can or spray bottle, depending on your plant size and the extent of the infestation. Use a watering can for larger plants and a spray bottle for smaller plants or specific areas.
Gently water the plants with the solution, ensuring thorough moisture penetration into the soil where the fungus gnat larvae reside. Repeat the application every few days until the fungus gnat problem is resolved. Adjust the frequency if needed, as some plants may be sensitive to the solution.
– Apply Insecticidal Soap
To kill fungus gnats and their larvae in the soil, use insecticidal soap. Get a plant-friendly insecticidal soap and mix it with water according to the instructions on the label. Pour the solution onto the soil around your plants, focusing on the top layer where the larvae are.
Avoid spraying it on leaves or flowers, and for this, try to repeat the process every few days if needed, especially if you’re looking to prevent gnats. Remember to wear gloves, keep kids and pets away until it dries, and follow safety precautions.
– Use Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder made from ancient sea creatures called diatoms. It’s commonly used as a natural pest control. Just make sure to get food-grade diatomaceous earth, which is safe for plants and pets.
When you use some diatomaceous earth it is the agent that dehydrates and damages insects’ exoskeletons, including fungus gnats. It literally cuts through their bodies, causing their demise. However, be cautious as it can harm beneficial insects too, so you should use it specifically in affected areas.
When you use DE, it is a great way to tackle these pests, and you can aim to use it when you have commercially purchased potting soil that can contain fungus gnat eggs or larvae. These eggs may have been present in the soil during packaging or could have been introduced to the soil during storage. When you use such soil for your plants, the gnats can emerge from the soil and infest your plants.
Fungus gnats can also be introduced to your plants through infested plants that you bring indoors or add to your garden. These plants may already have gnats or gnat eggs on them, which can lead to an infestation spreading to other plants. As you try to use DE, you will see a greater change.
– Implement Good Gardening Practices
It’s important to keep your garden clean by following good gardening practices. Clear away fallen leaves and plant debris from the soil surface to reduce the organic matter that attracts gnats. Trim off any dead or decaying plant parts, including roots, to eliminate potential food sources for gnats.
Keep the top layer of soil clean and lightly cultivate it to prevent the accumulation of organic material. Check for damage or pests and avoid compromised packaging when purchasing potting soil.
If you suspect contaminated soil, isolate it temporarily to allow any potential gnats to emerge. Sterilize potting soil by baking it at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes to kill any fungus gnat eggs or larvae.
Before introducing new plants, inspect them thoroughly for signs of gnats, larvae, or eggs. Keep new plants separate and closely monitor them for pests before integrating them with other vegetation. You would also see that this is important because the plant may have improper drainage, which is a major factor behind fungus gnat populations in plants.
When water gets trapped in the pot or container, it creates a wet environment that fungus gnats love. Gnats, especially fungus gnats, are drawn to moist areas. When water doesn’t drain properly, the soil stays wet, providing an ideal breeding spot for gnats.
– Keeping the Surrounding Clean
Leaving fallen leaves or plant debris on the soil around your plants can create an ideal breeding ground for fungus gnats. These pesky insects are attracted to decomposing organic matter, which serves as a food source for their larvae. Be mindful of any spilled organic matter, like food scraps or compost, to avoid drawing gnats into your indoor garden or potted plants.
Unhealthy or dying plants are particularly attractive to gnats, as they offer an easier food source and a moist environment that supports their reproduction. It’s essential to clean and sanitize your gardening tools and containers to prevent the accidental transfer of gnats or their eggs to new plants.
In addition, be mindful how gnats are drawn to organic matter as it provides a feast for their larvae. Decaying leaves, dead roots, and decomposing debris in the soil are like gourmet meal for gnats. They lay their eggs near this nutrient-rich material, and once hatched, the larvae happily indulge in it. This can harm plant roots and become a nuisance when adult gnats emerge.
When it comes to overripe fruits and vegetables, gnats, particularly fruit flies, can’t resist the sweet smell of fermenting sugars. They feed on the sugary goodness and lay their eggs on the surface of the produce. After hatching, the larvae happily devour the decaying matter.
If you have overripe fruits or veggies near your plants, be cautious as gnats and fruit flies can swiftly move from the spoiled food to nearby plants. These agile creatures can explore and colonize new areas, especially if things are in proximity or if you bring the infested produce indoors.
Gnats are no longer an issue now that you know why they’re there, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them. Let’s do a quick overview of what we’ve covered so far:
- Allowing soil to dry out, sticky gnat trap pads, and diatomaceous earth are good physical options.
- Vinegar from apple cider, oil from neem, hydrogen peroxide, and insecticidal soap are great organic solutions.
- Finally, always implement good gardening practices and keep the surroundings neat and tidy.
Simply follow these guidelines, and you’ll have a clean and insect-free garden full of thriving healthy plants.
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