Gnats in indoor plants are annoying. It’s not very uncommon to see gnats hovering around your favorite indoor plants in groups or even scuttling over the compost.
They not only spoil the beauty quotient but also bring in several problems related to plants’ health. These tiny winged critters that resemble mosquitoes or fruit flies are about ⅛ inches in length, mostly thrive on moist soil or plants’ decaying matter.
So, in this article, we will learn how to get rid of gnats in indoor plants.
Here are 10 practical ways to eliminate gnats around your indoor plants.
- Correct your watering regime and let the soil dry out between watering.
- Use a DIY vinegar fly trap.
- Use sticky fly traps around your plant pot.
- Invest in a good flycatcher.
- Spray some insecticidal solution on your plant.
- Spray soap water to rinse any existing pest.
- Use beneficial nematodes around your plants.
- Grow insectivorous plants.
- Cover the soil with some gravel or rocks.
- Spray neem oil solution on your plants.
As these creatures mainly occur due to damp potting mix, the best possible way to prevent them from taking over your plants is by avoiding overwatering.
But what if the damage has already been done and your plants have been afflicted with pesky gnats? But we are here to help. This article talks about some remedies and preventive measures for gnats. Let’s dive into the article to understand more.
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What are gnats?
The most common type of flies found whizzing around indoor plants is the gnats (Sciaridae). These are tiny, slender winged insects that thrive in moist environments.
Apart from gnats, common fruit flies and house flies also roam around indoor plants, although they are not very harmful.
These winged insects complete their life cycle in 4 stages – egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
How to identify gnats?
One possible way to tell if your plants are in gnats’ grasp is by looking for the eggs. These tiny flies generally lay their eggs in the soil where the eggs hatch and larvae come out.
The young larvae, which are about ¼ inches long with shiny blackheads and transparent elongated bodies, mainly feed on fungus that grows in the damp soil mix. The eggs are tiny, yellowish-white in color.
Besides fungi, gnats are fond of organic matter and eat up plant roots and seedlings, making the plant wilt. Just like snails, gnats larvae leave behind a similar slime trail while locomoting. So if you notice any such trail, it is possibly of gnats infesting your plants.
They prefer light, so you may notice them even near a window, especially if indoor plants are nearby. Gnats are often confused with common fruit flies (Drosophila sp.), but unlike gnats, Drosophila lingers mostly around fruits and are tan in color.
Adult gnats are not real threats to plants and are quite treatable, but being voracious eaters, they are the most harmful flies at their larval stage. So if you notice any signs of gnat infestation, immediately go right with the remedies and work on the preventive measures.
How to get rid of gnats on your indoor plants?
Here we have talked about some best ways to get rid of these tiny nuisances.
- Yellow sticky traps
- Grit mulch
- Systemic insecticide
- Vinegar solution
- Indoor flycatcher
Although gnats can get on your nerves, getting rid of these unwelcomed flies is an easier task than you might think. Here are the best ways to deal with these.
Create a DIY trap using vinegar
Take one tbsp of sugar in a bowl, and then add 2-3 drops of sweet-smelling mild dish soap along with white vinegar into that bowl. Now cover this bowl tightly with cling wrap and make multiple small holes in that wrap.
Place the bowl near your infected houseplant and allow it to catch gnats overnight. Gnats get attracted by the mild sweet smell of the solution and get drowned in it.
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Use sticky fly traps
If the pungent smell of vinegar puts you off, installing sticky traps can be an easy yet impactful way to cope with the gnats.
Sticky traps are easy to get, and you can hang them from any branch of your houseplant or place them on the potting soil to catch those unwanted critters.
Most adult gnats’ population can be controlled by this method, but you can reduce the number of eggs laid by them by cutting down their number.
Before installing the trap, do check that the trap and its sticky material are nontoxic. For maximum effectiveness, use a double-sided sticky trap.
Change the trap every few days whenever it becomes covered with gnats. Keep a safe distance between the plant’s leaves and the sticky trap.
Use indoor flycatcher
If you are experiencing a frequent infestation of these gnats even after applying different strategies, you may need to invest in fly-catching devices.
Indoor flycatchers are devices that are USB powered that use LED lights and fans to attract flies and gnats, which then get sucked into the trap placed inside the catcher.
Apply a synthetic insecticidal solution
When all remedies fail in the attempt, then only go for this step. There are many varieties of chemical spray available in the market for pest control management that target either the larval or the adult stage of the gnats.
Try to target one stage of their lifecycle and maintain a routined spraying method to eradicate them. Reapplying pesticides (insecticides) for a scheduled period is necessary to eliminate these nasty gnats.
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective chemical for this process with an immediate effect on the larval stage. Mix water and hydrogen peroxide in a 4:1 ratio and soak the soil with this solution.
You can use a diluted solution of neem oil. Apply neem oil and water solution to the soil mix to kill the larvae or spraying equipment to kill the adult gnats. You can apply pyrethrin sprays, too, as they have a massive toxic impact on both larvae and adult gnats.
Whatever you use, just keep a check on the amount of these chemicals you are using. Never exceed the mentioned dosage, or else you will end up harming your plant.
Natural ways to get rid of gnats
If you are a plant lover, you are an eco-conscious person too. Hence using too many synthetic products, chemicals may not come to your list. It shouldn’t come to anyone else’s list either.
However, while opting for pest management, natural and biological control should be the first preference, mainly when you have numerous plants to take care of.
We have already talked about some organic solutions like the application of vinegar mixture. Let’s now get some knowledge about the biological control of gnats.
Use beneficial nematodes
Adding such weird named creatures to an already infected soil may seem a bit counterproductive, but trust us, it can prove to be immensely effective.
Nematodes are small worm-like invertebrates that come under the category of flukes and are excellent in targeting the larval stage of the gnats without causing any harm to the plant.
Being parasitic, these nematodes (includes Steinernema feltiae) penetrate the gnats’ larvae and release a bacteria inside their body that costumes the whole larvae from the inside.
Grow insectivorous plants
If you have few indoor plants and want to save them from pest infestation and gnats, go for some insectivorous or carnivorous plants like sundew (Drosera), pitcher plants, etc. Try to grow these species near the houseplants.
Gnats get stuck to the sticky parts of these carnivorous plant species, and they feed on those insects to fulfill their nitrogen needs.
Go for some predatory species.
Along with parasitic nematodes and carnivorous plants, predatory mites or rove beetle larvae too are great options for the biological control of gnats. These are available from online supplies.
However, predatory mites and rove beetle larvae are best suited for greenhouses and sealed conservatories.
How to prevent gnats in indoor plants?
Prevention is always better than cure. While you apply and reapply different strategies to eradicate gnats from your indoor plants, once an infestation occurs, there remains a possible chance of their recurrence every single time.
The best way of dealing with these whizzing creatures is to prevent them from coming near your plants from the start.
Here are the preventive measures for you to follow:
Soggy or damp soil caused by overwatering is the primary zone that houses these gnats. So the most crucial factor here is regulating the watering schedule properly.
Allow the soil to dry out completely before applying water. Eggs and larvae generally die in dry soil.
Choose a pot with sufficient drainage holes
Even though you are watering the soil correctly after checking the soil moisture content, your plant can still end up rooted in damp soil if the pot lacks sufficient drainage holes as water will remain stuck in the soil mix, making it soggy.
Use a pot with enough drainage holes that allow the water to come out from the soil mix. Remember to drain the excess water that gets accumulated in the saucer.
Also read: Do indoor plants need drainage holes?
Use a porous pot
Instead of using glass or plastic planters, try to use porous pots. You can go for terracotta planters as these pots allow free movement of water. Such planters allow airflow into the soil, keeping it dry.
Use a fresh soil mix.
Don’t reuse oil soil mix as it can contain larvae and eggs of gnats. Always fill the planters with fresh, clean soil mix to avoid contamination.
Remove dead leaves or decaying matter from the soil.
Gnats larvae feed on decaying organic matter. Hence it is vital to keep the soil clean to avoid population growth. Remove the withered leaves or other waste matter from the soil every 2-3 days.
Cover the compost
Most of the composts used have been sterilized, so they generally do not contain any fungus or pest.
If you want to keep the compost away from gnats’ reach, you can cover it with glass pebbles or mulch grit or gravel. This will prevent the gnats from laying their eggs on the potting medium.
Don’t use homemade garden compost as being unsterilized; it may carry pests or fungal species.
Keep the surroundings clean.
Gnats have an affinity for wet, unclean environments. Keeping the surroundings clean, allowing proper sunlight into the room, cleaning the dustbins will reduce the chance of gnats infestation in your house and on your plants.
Other ways to prevent gnats
Before bringing plants inside, inspect them thoroughly to ensure they are free of any insects. Before you purchase a new plant, remember to check for any such insect infestation.
Even after bringing it home, keep the new plant away from your other plants for a few days. Once you are assured of the pest’s absence, you can bring it to the desired spot.
These are some of the basic strategies you can act on to keep gnats away. We hope it will solve your issue effectively. For an efficient outcome, follow the tips mentioned above in regular intervals.
People are seen to apply essential oils such as peppermint, mint, lavender, eucalyptus to drive out gnats. Well, it can be an effective strategy as gnats hate the strong aromatic odor of these components. Among all these, peppermint is the most effective one.
Fruit flies and fungus gnats both come from eggs laid on unripe fruits. The larvae of the gnats feed on rotten fruits and become adults. The gnats can also enter your house through open windows, newly bought plants from nurseries, or the garbage bin.
Not all flies are harmful or disease-causing agents, but they impact the overall growth of your indoor plants. By keeping gnats and other pests at bay, you can manage your plants to grow in a healthy environment with a luscious, lustrous appearance, lifting the beauty of itself and your house too.