How to manage fungus gnats

Fungus gnats are every plant parent’s worst nightmare. They may not necessarily be damaging to your plants but they are somewhat annoying as they run across the soil and fly around your plants (and you!).

Here are some tips to help you manage those pesky gnats and also, at the end of this article some recommended products that I use to help with gnats.

What are fungus gnats?

Fungus gnats are tiny brown/black flies and they are attracted to damp soil. Gnats breed and lay eggs in damp soil and they can multiply at a fast rate if the soil continues to stay damp and if the gnats are not controlled.

Initially, gnats may cause no damage to your plants but if not controlled, they may take over and kill plants by feeding off the roots of your plants, particularly young plants and seedlings.

How do I control fungus gnats?

There are a few trusted methods to controlling fungus gnats, here are just a few of the methods that I know work for my plants:

  • Reduce your watering schedule – Fungus gnats are attracted to damp soil so the first thing that you could do to discourage gnats is to reduce the amount of times you water your plants. Plants are more likely to die if you water too much so they can be somewhat forgiving if you don’t water for an extra few days. Always make sure that the top layer of the soil is completely dry before watering. You could even stick your finger into the soil to make sure it’s dry before watering.
  • Use well-draining soil for indoor plants – When I started my houseplant journey, I made the mistake of using regular outdoor soil for my indoor plants. Because outdoor soil is much heavier and doesn’t include enough of an adequate draining medium such as perlite and bark, the soil remains soggy and heavy after each water which attracts fungus gnats. I would recommend using a houseplant soil, add one part perlite and one part bark to ensure adequate drainage.
  • Bottom water your plants – Next time when you water your plants, instead of pouring water over the top of the soil, fill a bowl with water and place the bottom part of the pot into the water for about 15 minutes so that the roots of the plant can take up as much water as it needs. Just make sure the pot has a drainage hole at the bottom which will allow water to flow through to the plant. This way, the top layer of the soil continues to stay dry which makes it less appealing for fungus gnats to visit.
  • Use yellow sticky traps – The warm, yellow light of the sticky traps attract fungus gnats which means the gnats stick to them and ultimately die. The fungus gnat cycle is broken as the gnats are caught onto the traps as the gnats are unable to continue to lay eggs in the soil. The sticky traps are safe for humans and pets but it is not recommended to touch them as they will leave a sticky residue to your fingers. They are echo-friendly and water proof and each trap should last a few weeks and up to a couple of months, depending on the amount of gnats that you have.

Recommended products to help you mange fungus gnats (there are many other brands around. These are just a few of my tried and tested products that I use with my plants):

Thank you for reading, I hope you found these tips helpful.

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Chantal

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