Fungus gnats are pests that prima rily damage indoor plants. However, do you think they can bite humans, especially when they have already entered a home for houseplants? Since we are also curious about it, we have conducted thorough research on this to find out.
Given that they cannot bite humans and cannot transmit diseases, fungus gnats are perfectly safe to be around. However, as their number increases and their larvae start feeding on the vulnerable plant roots , they can become an issue for houseplants. Fungus gnats can also disseminate Pythium which causes "damping off" in seedlings.
There are so many things about fungus gnats that we want to share with you. From their identification, the damage they can bring, their removal, and much more. Please keep reading to learn about these pests.
How To Identify A Fungus Gnat
Fungus gnats are extremely small as adults. Their length can be anywhere from 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch, making them roughly the same size as fruit flies. The length of a fungus gnat larva can reach 1/8 of an inch.
Fungus gnats have either gray or transparent wings and a grayish-black color. Despite being much, much smaller in size, they appear like mosquitoes due to their long legs and antennas.
Furthermore, fungus gnats are more diminutive than fruit flies and have larger legs and antennae.
The bodies of larvae are either white or transparent, with a small, black head.
Fungus gnats typically spend the majority of their span on the soil exterior of your flowerpot. However, you can occasionally spot them flying close to the drainage holes or around the exterior of the pot.
They tend to wander along the ground and only occasionally fly because they are not powerful flyers. They fly more like mosquitoes than fruit flies because of their irregular flight and sluggish speed.
Although they are perfectly harmless and you can deal with them with a few well-placed swats, there is an irritating habit of fungus gnats. They like to fly into our faces and drink inconveniently.
What Damage Do Fungus Gnats Cause?
Fungus gnats are primarily an irritation when present in tiny quantities. Adult fungus gnats don't actually vigorously injure animals or vegetation. However, if their abundance outgrows control, the larvae may start consuming the roots of your plants and cause significant damage. Young plants with small, sensitive roots, like seedlings, are especially vulnerable.
In addition, as we already noted, fungus gnats are the vectors of the plant disease that results in seedling damping-off and eventual mortality.
Fungus gnat damage will mirror any other root-related issue, like the rotting of your plant's roots. In this case, the leaves below the plant may fall off and turn yellowish. Moreover, expect that the plant's development may slacken or cease entirely.
Lastly, in really terrible situations, the whole plant may begin to wilt. And if the fungus gnats severely harm the roots of the plant, it could then die.
How To Eliminate Fungus Gnats
The key to controlling fungus gnats is to be consistent. The adults are pretty simple to catch in gnat traps, but since the adult population arrives in cycles, you must ensure that you frequently check your traps and refill them if necessary.
Use a mix of the traps indicated below and the additional preventative measures listed in the next section for the best results.
1. Sticky Cards Trap
These traps feature a yellow note card with a sticky substance covering it entirely. They work best when you fasten them to skewers just above the soil or chop them into little squares and position them directly on top of the ground.
On the card, adult gnats will get stuck in the glue when they fly or crawl onto it. Additionally, it would be best to utilize yellow sticky cards instead of blue ones since fungus gnats want that color better. And you can purchase them online as well as at the majority of hardware or garden stores.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Traps
Cider-vinegar traps are easy to make and quite efficient. All you need is a shallow container, some water, and liquid dish soap.
Using a tuna can as the container would be best. Fill the can with equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water to create a cider-vinegar trap solution. Then add some drops of the dish soap to the solution and give it a gentle swirl. Note that the trap solution should be at least 1/4 inch in-depth.
Put the trap close to the damaged plant's base, or better yet, within the gardening pot on top of the dirt. Examine it regularly and replace the vinegar and water as needed.
You can also use flypapers to repel flies, like those placed in horse stables, to repel fungus gnats. These traps, however, may prove excessive for gnats. There is a huge possibility that you may stick the flypapers into hair, furniture, plants, or nearby decor. So, it would be best to carefully place it in the intended area.
How To Prevent Fungus Gnats
For best results, combine these preventative measures with the traps mentioned above.
Maintain Dry Soil
Fungus gnats prefer damp soil, so letting your precious houseplants air out a bit between waterings will aid in delaying or halting a fungus gnat infestation.
Before watering again, wait until the top inch or two of the soil has dried up. Also, attempt to let as much time pass without watering. If the dirt is dry on the surface, gnats may not lay their eggs.
With the help of mosquito dunks (beneficial bacteria), you can keep mosquito larvae out of any small bodies of water. This bacteria can instantly eradicate larvae of flying insects. This includes fungus gnats, mosquitoes, and fruit flies.
Use mosquito dunks by adding one to a gallon jug of clean water. But before dropping the dunk into the water, it would be best to break it up a bit. Alternatively, you can wait for it to soften before doing so.
Moreover, it would be best to submerge the mosquito dunk in the water at least overnight, then remove it after. It is a good thing that you can reuse the dunk. Utilize this water for plants with fungus gnats infestations.
Any nymphs that encounter the beneficial bacteria in the soil will die because the infection has already gotten into the water. Do this procedure for at least a few months, preferably each time you drench your precious plants.
Cover Drainage Holes
Although fungus gnats usually stay close to the upper part of pots, they might move to the drainage holes and begin laying eggs there.
If this occurs, it would be best to conceal the holes by utilizing a portion of artificial fabric to control gnats from penetrating or escaping the drainage hole while allowing water to flow freely. Use rubber bands or tape to affix.
Cover Exposed Soil With Sand
According to some people, fungus gnats can't reach exposed soil to deposit their eggs if you cover it with a layer of sand that is at least 3/4 inches deep. And if you combine it with the other preventative techniques mentioned above, notably plugging drainage holes, this can be a powerful deterrent.
Wrap It All Up
Fungus gnats may not be harmful to humans, but they are still pests, and it would be best to get rid of them before they significantly damage your houseplants. Follow either of the methods we recommend above to achieve great results.
We hope you find this post helpful. If you have additional questions, please feel free to comment below. And before you go, you might want to check these posts out!