How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats… Yep, the dreaded little bug that every plant owner tries to avoid! 
Fungus gnats are small flies that infest soil, potting mix, and other sources of organic decomposition. Fungus gnats are extremely common in the plant world, and can be a pain to get under control. They primarily feed on fungi and organic matter found in soil, but also chew roots hairs and can be a problem to your plants. Adult fungus gnats may emerge from houseplants indoors and can become a nuisance. So, how do we get rid of them?

Signs Of Fungus Gnats:

If your plant has a fungus gnat problem it is fairly easy to identify. These flies aren't actually the best at flying, so they tend to stay pretty close to the plant. You will probably notice them flying around in zig-zag movements. Because they have such a quick reproduction rate, it is extremely common to see all of the life stages of this pest at once. If you gently move around the soil you will likely see some gnats still in their larval stage. They will have transparent bodies, black shiny heads and live in the soil where they munch away on organic matter. 

If left unnoticed and untreated, your plant will begin to show signs of stress. While the fungus gnats don't damage the plant leaves directly, they munch on root hairs and diminish the soil of essential nutrients. This can lead to sudden wilting and yellowing of leaves, weak growth, and overall loss of vibrancy. 

Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Gnats:

There are actually many ways to naturally and effectively get rid of fungus gnats. 

The very first thing you should do is get rid of the old soil and repot. Make sure to cut off any damaged or rotting roots, and gently rinse them with water until all the old soil is gone. Thoroughly clean the pot of any old soil before you use it again. Repot with the fresh soil and cleaned up roots. 

If you cant replace your soil with a new batch, the next best thing would be to bake it in the oven on a large pan to kill off any eggs and larvae that are living in it. Remove the plant and clean off roots, then set aside. Dump all the soil onto a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. While the soil is baking clean and sterilize the pot. After the baked soil is completley cooled and back to room temperature, you can repot your plant as normal. 

Adding diatomaceous earth is another way to help keep gnats at bay. This very fine powder kills insects from the sharp silica. Mixing this in when repotting your plant can help tremendousley to avoid having fungus gnats in the future. Just make sure it is food grade diatomaceous earth so it doesnt harm your plant. 

While you are waiting for diatomaceous earth to show up or as soon as you notice you have fungus gnats, you can sprinkle cinnamon on top of the soil. Cinnomon is a natural fingicide and and irritant, preventing fungas gnats from laying eggs. However not all cinnamon is equal when it comes to getting rid of gnats. Idealy you will want to use ceylon cinnamon, not the regular kind most already have at home. 

Some other ways are:

  • Mosquitinto dunks: This is very easy and stops gnats in their tracks. You simply just add a piece to your watering can and water as usual. 
  • Hydrogen peroxide drench: Mix one part 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with 4 parts water and pour over the soil of your plant. Remember to do this when your plant actually needws water, not when your plant is already wet. 
  • Apple cider vinegar trap: Mix 1part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water in a a shallow dish. Add a teaspoon of sugar and a few small drops of dish soap and place next to your problem plant. This will attract aduly fungus knats and trap them in the liquid. 
  • Yellow sticky traps: Yellow is an attractant to fungus gnats. So if you don't have apple cider vinegar and can find yellow sticky traps, they will work just as well. 

How To Avoid Getting Fungus Gnats In The First Place:

We've gotten over how to get rid of these pesky bugs, now let's look at how to avoid them. 

Our number one tip is to avoid over watering your plants to prevent fungus from developing in the first place due to consistently moist soil. 

Inspecting and quarantining each plant. As exciting as it may be to bring a new plant home and add it to your collection, taking the proper steps to make sure it's not carrying any pests or diseases that can spread to your other plants can save you devastation and a whole lot of trouble. Quarantining for two weeks to make sure your plant is happy and healthy is ideal. 

If All Else Fails…

Say you have tried all of the natural methods and nothing is working, this might be your last option. A bonide systemic  treatment is usually your best defense, as it treats problems from the inside out. 

Goodluck getting rid of these pesky bugs, and we wish no gnat in your future!

Save this blog for reference if ( and likely when ) these bugs show up. 

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