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March 1, 2016
I read in your column about the problem of tiny flies in the dirt of flower pots.
I have misplaced the article and we are over run with the pests. Would you please
tell me what the solution was for getting rid of them?
Fungus gnats are what you are referring to. If you have gnats I would say you are
probably overwatering. Fungus gnats are more of a nuisance rather than a detriment
to your plants. The small larvae are in the soil and are feeding on the fungi growing
in the potting soil, along with some small roots. Fungus gnats are more abundant in
old, moist potting soil. As they mature, they turn into small gnats that hang around
on the surface of the soil or fly around the plants, especially when the plants are
disturbed. Since fungus gnats multiply more rapidly in moist soils, keep your plants
on the dry side. Especially during the cooler, winter months when houseplants aren’t
growing very rapidly water no more than once every two weeks for most plants. Frequency
of watering will vary by plant type, container size and how hot you keep your house.
Top-dressing the soil with sand, using a yellow sticky traps to trap the adults and
prevent them from laying eggs, and if they continue, you can drench the soil with
an insecticidal soap or BT product.
I always repot my plants in the fall to bring around 4 in my house. I repot because
my brother brought 11 baby copperheads in the house one fall. Anyway, I always get
gnats, several hundreds of them come out of my plants so therefore I have to move
them to the garage and cannot enjoy my plants in winter. Do you know what I can do
to avoid the gnats? I always buy good soil.
Wow! And I thought the snake story was an urban legend! If you have gnats every year,
I would say you are overwatering. Fungus gnats multiply more rapidly in moist soils.
Especially during the cooler, winter months, houseplants would benefit from being
on the dry side—usually no more than once every two weeks for most plants. Timing
of course will vary by plant, plant and container size and how hot you keep your house.
Top-dressing the soil with sand, using a mild insecticidal soap drench when you move
them inside can also help.
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