Stop Swatting and Try These # Tips on How to Get Rid of Gnats in Houseplants

Close-up photo of a gnat

​You’re sitting in your sunroom, and you notice annoying little flying insects buzzing about your houseplants. They are likely fungus gnats. While fungus gnats don’t pose any threat to you (aside from being super annoying), their larvae could harm your plants because they feed on the roots. 

So how do you evict them from your plants and home? We have put together a guide showing you how to get rid of gnats in houseplants and then keep them away, once and for all.

How Water Helps Plants

Photo of a moist leaf

Image ​from Pixabay 

Noticing a bunch of tiny flies around your houseplants? Here are some tried and true methods on how to get rid of those pesky gnats in houseplants once and for all. 

You’re sitting in your sunroom, and you notice annoying little flying insects buzzing about your houseplants. They are likely fungus gnats. While fungus gnats don’t pose any threat to you (aside from being super annoying), their larvae could harm your plants because they feed on the roots. 

So how do you evict them from your plants and home? We have put together a guide showing you how to get rid of gnats in houseplants and then keep them away, once and for all.

What’s a Fungus Gnat?

Fungus gnats belong to the insect family Sciaridae. At only one-quarter of an inch in length, fungus gnats are often mistaken for fruit flies and drain flies.

But unlike fruit flies, fungus gnats eat decaying plant matter and mushrooms. So, it’s no wonder that you find them in jungles and forests where this food source is in abundance. 

Unlike other insects, fungus gnats do not hibernate in the winter. As a result, they move indoors where the temperature and moisture levels are higher and can become a problem year-round. 

In your house, they seek out overwatered plants, light, mold, and mildew. So, a sunroom full of plants with damp soil is practically inviting an invasion of this type of gnat.

How to Tell If You Have Fungus Gnats

Because fungus gnats are similar to fruit flies and are as small as drain flies, you’ll need to do some sleuthing to see if what you have are fungus gnats.

An easy way to tell is by inspecting your plants. If you notice a large number of tiny flying insects hanging around and on your plants, they are most likely fungus gnats. Fruit flies hang around your kitchen where there is fruit, and drain flies will congregate around your drains.

But to make sure, you should inspect the soil around your plant. Do you see any white specks? Those are probably fungus gnat larvae that will eventually turn into adult gnats that will lay more eggs in your plant’s soil.

Does your plant look like it’s wilting? Or are the leaves turning yellow? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, there are probably fungus gnat larvae eating the plant’s roots. Your poor plant isn’t able to get all the nutrients it needs when its root system is being eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

If you’re still not sure if it's a fungus gnat invasion, you can try cutting up a raw potato and pushing the pieces into the soil of your house plant. Leave them there for a few days. If your plant is under attack from fungus gnats, you’ll see them feeding on the underside of the potato slices.

Ways to Combat Fungus Gnats

Now that you’ve determined that you have a fungus gnat problem, it’s time to learn how to get rid of gnats in houseplants. There are a few methods to choose from, so don’t worry if you try one, and it doesn’t work. Just move on to the next tactic, or try several at once.

Let Your Plants Dry Out

Use a Hydrogen Peroxide and Water Mixture

Try Commercial Insecticides

Try an Organic Insecticide

Get Some Microscopic Roundworms

Use Fly Tape or Yellow Flytrap Cards

Transfer the Plant to New Soil

How to Keep Fungus Gnats Away

Photo of dead flies

Image ​from Pixabay 

Now that you’ve learned how to get rid of gnats in houseplants, it’s time to learn how to keep them away.

Minimize Plant Debris

Like moist soil, plant debris is like a for sale sign for fungus gnats. The debris ends up decaying, and fungus gnats feast on decaying plant matter.

So when you see leaves, flower petals, and stems in your plant’s soil, remove them as soon as you see them. And if you use potting soil that contains bark, try switching to a brand that doesn’t contain it. Bark retains moisture, which as you now know attracts fungus gnats.

Resist the Urge to Overwater Your Plants

It’s okay to let the soil in your houseplants dry out. There’s no need to keep it moist at all times. Of course, don’t let your plants dry out too much, but at least let the surface dry out before watering your plants. When in doubt, try sticking your finger into the soil to see how damp it is.

You can also try adding perlite to the soil to help with drainage. And don’t let your plants sit in a drainage dish full of water. If there’s water in the dish, empty it about 30 minutes after you water it.

Conclusion

In this guide, we showed you how to get rid of gnats in houseplants as well as how to keep them from coming back. We want your house to be a gnat-free zone!

We covered several tactics such as using insecticides, repotting your plants, and using fly traps. If one method doesn’t work, try another, or even try several tactics at the same time for the best results.

And once they’re gone, you can keep them from coming back with proper plant maintenance and watering.

​Featured photo via ​Flickr.​

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