Houseplants are a ‘prime target’ for fungus gnats – here’s how to get rid of them for good

Houseplants that are 'impossible to kill'

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All types of gnats are attracted to moisture though fungus gnats are the most common species found lurking around houseplants. These small bugs are hard to get rid of due to their ability to jump and fly around quickly, but there are a few ways to keep them off of your plants. Here’s how to get rid of fungus gnats lurking in your home, and the best methods to stop them from laying eggs in the soil.

Fungus gnats are particularly attracted to damp composts containing high levels of organic matter and will quickly head for indoor plants during hot weather.

Though adult fungus gnats are not known to damage plants, the larvae feed on dead roots and other decaying plant material and can be a problem for young plants.

According to home and garden retailer, Andermatt, killing fungus gnats off for good is difficult since each female lays around 150 eggs in their short lifetime, though there are ways to reduce the number of them lurking in your home.

How to get rid of fungus gnats

Balanced soil conditions are crucial to keeping houseplants healthy, and it’s also the key to preventing common pests like fungus gnats.

To keep these nuisance bugs away from your plants, the first step should always be to correct any existing damage to your plant.

Remove dead growth

Fungus gnats don’t just enjoy moist and humid soil, in fact, the adults are very attracted to dead growth too.

Nick Drewe at WeThrift said: “It’s important to remove any dead leaves or stems from your plant pots, as they become a prime target for fungus gnats to lay their eggs.”

Once the eggs have been laid, you will quickly see an infestation of these bugs in your plant, so always act fast on wilted or diseased foliage.

Target visible gnats

Treating dead and damaged growth is one way to reduce the number of gnats hovering around houseplants, but it won’t always get rid of them.

To remove visible gnats hovering on healthy leaves, a lint roller is very effective and provides instant results.

Just gently roll the tape onto the plant leaves to remove the bugs and eggs from the plant and squash them on the sticky tape.

Nick said: “If you’ve had an infestation of fungus gnats, then it’s important to rip a new sheet on the sticky roller after cleaning each plant.

“This will prevent any plants that have not yet been infected from coming contaminated with bug eggs.”

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Treat the soil

Reducing the amount of moisture in the soil is key to keeping gnats away for good, and there are plenty of basic ingredients which can do this in just a matter of minutes.

Layering sand on top of the soil is just one way to absorb moisture from the earthy mixture, though it is important to avoid watering the plant for some time after.

Killing the fungal growth within the soil can be done using ground cinnamon, which helps to banish spores that gnats feed on.

Simply sprinkle the fragrant powder over the soil and leave it to sit.

The cinnamon works like a natural fungicide, which effectively kills the fungus spores and makes the soil uninhabitable for hungry adult gnats and their larvae.

Distract fungus gnats

Removing any new gnats which appear after treating your plants can be done with a simple distraction technique.

This trick requires minimal effort to attract and capture flying fungus gnats using a saucer of wine.

According to the experts at The Joy of Plants, placing a saucer of red wine near to, but not next to houseplants is much more attractive than damp soil.

Always use an uncovered container and replace it regularly to dispose of captured gnats and attract any new bugs.

Repot your plants

For plants that are badly infested, repotting is often the best option and is especially effective against larvae.

Just clean the pot thoroughly and place the plant in new, clean potting soil.

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