There’s been a sudden wave of people searching for information on how to get rid of gnats in plants, with fungus gnats popping up in households at increasing rates. What’s causing this spike in fungus gnat problems, and how can we get rid of them naturally? We put together this quick guide to help you eliminate these unwanted house guests and prevent them from returning!
How to Kill Plant Gnats Naturally
Fungus gnats are tiny little flies that swarm around your indoor plants, increasing in number quite quickly. While the mature flies are more of a nuisance than an outright threat to your houseplants, their larvae are the ones that can do some significant damage! Fungus gnat larvae feed off plant roots, and that’s the most delicate and vulnerable part of a plant. Getting rid of the larvae and stopping the mature flies from reproducing are your two main goals when you have a fungus gnat problem.
What Causes Gnats in Indoor Plants?
Fungus gnats get their name because they love fungus! So, if your plant soil is full of fungus, the gnats will soon come. But, what causes fungus in houseplants? The answer, usually, is overwatering your plants! There’s been a big increase in fungus gnat problems in the last year because everyone was spending more time at home, and the temptation to overwater is too real!
While there are a few houseplants that thrive off consistently moist soil, many houseplants prefer to have the top few inches of potting soil dry out in between watering, especially in winter. To prevent water from collecting in the bottom of the pot and growing bacteria, use pots with drainage holes on the bottom and allow the excess water to run out.
How to Get Rid of Gnats in Soil Naturally
So, you’ve noticed fungus gnats flying around your houseplants. Now what? Well, you need to tackle both the larvae and the mature flies, so it’s generally a good idea to combine a few tactics if you want to do a thorough job. Here are a few solutions you can try to stop fungus gnats at all stages of development:
- Neem Oil: This essential oil is an excellent pesticide that’s safe for home use. Spraying a naturally formulated neem oil solution all over your plant’s leaves will help kill mature fungus gnats, but drenching the soil with neem oil in water will help kill all the larvae lurking in the soil.
- Pyrethrin Spray: Like neem oil, this product can be sprayed all over plants to kill mature flies naturally and can be diluted with water to pour through the soil to kill larvae. It’s entirely safe for use indoors and is derived from the chrysanthemum flower! Just be careful about using it for plants you intend to bring outdoors because pyrethrin is harmful to bees and butterflies.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Use one part peroxide and four parts water, and pour this solution through the soil. Not only will this kill the larvae, but it will also kill the fungus naturally!
- Sticky Traps: If you need a quick-fix solution to get rid of fungus gnats like if you’ve got company coming over and you want those swarming bugs out pronto, use sticky traps! These little sticky cards can be discreetly tucked in your potted plant containers, and the fungus gnats will get stuck. Once they’re covered, you can throw them straight in the trash.
- Allow the Soil to Completely Dry Out: Since you’ve probably been overwatering your plants if you’re dealing with fungus gnats, allowing the soil to dry completely will help stop the growth of fungus. Fungus needs moisture to survive, and if it’s not there, it will go away. Don’t worry, your plant will bounce back from a period of underwatering much easier than if you overwatered it.
- Replace the Soil: If the problem is pretty severe, you can always repot your plant into some new, fresh soil. Be very careful when repotting your plant, and take precautions to avoid the root ball getting shocked. A plant that larvae have already munched on may be extra sensitive when repotting.
Remember, the best solution for getting rid of fungus gnats naturally is really a combination of several solutions! Try a few, wait a few weeks to see if any new mature flies emerge, and then repeat the process if needed. They aren’t very tough insects, but they reproduce quickly, so diligence is necessary to get rid of gnats for good!
Once you’ve honed your skills at kicking fungus gnats to the curb, add some more houseplants to your growing collection. Can’t find a good place to find houseplants for sale near you? Order online from our fully stocked webstore, with an incredible selection of houseplants we deliver right to your door.