What happens when you cross a mosquito and a fruit fly?
Very unscientifically speaking, I think that if a mosquito and a fruit fly had a baby, it would be an adorable Fungus Gnat. Remember, all babies are adorable, even if it is a Fungus Gnat larva baby! Fungus Gnat is not a really beautiful name but it does fit. The Fungus Gnat is a very small fly, about the size of a fruit fly, with long legs like a mosquito. It got its first name, Fungus, because it loves to feed on decaying organic matter and fungus. The more decayed and damp, the better. It got its last name, Gnat, because it is a small fly that can be quite obnoxious when found inside our homes.
Fungus Gnats make themselves right at home in our indoor potted plants. To keep Fungus Gnat babies happy, all you need to give them is damp soil and a warm home. How did they get here? Did the stork drop them off? No, silly! Fungus Gnat adults are so small they can sneak into any little opening in your home. They can also enter the home in a bag of infested potting soil or from a plant that spent the summer outside. Most people confuse them with Fruit Flies. Unfortunately, Fruit Fly traps will not work for this nuisance.
Fungus Gnats do not have a long life, approximately 4 weeks, but they reproduce very quickly and can inhabit all of your potted plants before you can say, “Fungus Gnat!” The adults lay anywhere from 100 to 300 eggs at a time in the soil. You need to use yellow Sticky Traps by Safer in your plants to cut down on the adult, egg-laying population. Once they lay their tiny eggs, they develop into larvae in the soil. The larvae feed on the roots of plants and decaying fungus matter. The key is to control the larvae in order to get rid of Fungus Gnats in your plants. I have a few suggestions for control:
- *Allow plants to dry out as much as possible before injuring the plant. This will hopefully dry out the Fungus Gnat larvae in the soil.
- *Be sure not to overwater your plants or let them sit in water. Fungus Gnats enjoy feeding on decaying, wet roots and fungus.
- *Bonide’s Houseplant Systemic is a great product. Sprinkle it on the soil of each houseplant, water it in and it will begin to control Fungus Gnat larvae. Apply approximately every 3 weeks.
- *Mosquito Bits by Summit are a wonderful organic choice that is also sprinkled on the soil to control the feeding larvae. Do a few applications approximately 5 days apart.
I think I need to retract my earlier statement about all babies being cute. Honestly, Fungus Gnat babies are just not that cute and neither is the damage they do to our plants and seedlings. Unfortunately for the adults, what they lack in good looks, they do not really make up for in personality. I have got to give Fungus Gnats at least one, big, green thumb up…they are good pollinators!
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!