Don't fret: You can banish these annoying pests in not time.
Photo/Illustration: Steven Cominsky
Gnats are annoying: They quietly fly around, often just a few inches from your face, daring you to catch them. As a plant lover, however, the fungus gnat may be the most irritating pest of all. Though harmless to humans, fungus gnats can multiply rapidly in indoor plants, laying their larvae in the top layer of potting mix.
These pesky gnats can be brought indoors from outside plants during overwintering. More often than not, however, they are transported into your home by infected plants picked up at the nursery or garden center. They love to hide in overly moist soil full of decaying plant matter. Once they are introduced into one plant, they easily make their home in other nearby plants, their larvae happily awaiting birth in the first inch or so of soil. Larvae primarily survive off fungi found in the soil but may also feed on root hairs. As the adults lay their eggs and multiply, the infestation continues to grow.
Rest assured, however, that you can get rid of fungus gnats without having to trash all of your plants. If the infestation is new, let the soil of infected plants dry out completely, which kills the larvae. If the infestation is beginning to grow, however, you’ll need to take more serious action. You could catch the adult fungus gnats using sticky paper, but that will not eliminate the larvae waiting to hatch. I’ve found a common, safe two-step home remedy (sidebar, right) that cures the entire problem. You’ll need sand; several small saucers; and a nice, fruity drink—for the bugs, not you.