Fungus Gnats, if only they were fruit flies!
Who knew I’d be wishing for fruit flies? Crazy thought, I know.
But fruit flies can be easily lured and trapped using a few drops of wine or a piece of banana peel at the bottom of a glass, a paper funnel placed inside with the tiny hole near the bottom of the inside of the glass, (making sure the top of the funnel is as wide as the mouth of the glass to avoid escapees) and voila! They are trapped until you carry the glass outside to lift up the paper funnel and release them into the wild. You have a cruelty free way of dispensing of countless fruit flies in your kitchen!
Not so with those pesky fungus gnats! Those slightly smaller fruit fly look alikes, you know, the ones flying out of the soil of your houseplants and straight into your face while you were relaxing in the morning enjoying a lovely cup of coffee? Those. Yes, those little guys know exactly how to interrupt a moment of tranquility.
So how can we manage these houseplant pests?
Here are my Top 5 Ways to manage Fungus Gnats:
1. Sticky fly paper It’s not cruelty free. It’s actually terrible because the gnats get stuck and die slowly. I resisted this method at first, it is sad….but it is honestly the quickest way to get ahead of the gnats before they fly and spread and reproduce like crazy inside the soil of your other plants.
I have a 5 pack of sticky paper in my shop now, these should last you at least a year unless your collection is larger than mine! I recommend cutting the paper into small strips and placing them inside the pot, with the bottom edge touching the soil, just under the inside lip of each pot. This way, the aesthetic of your houseplant is intact while the fly paper inconspicuously traps the adult gnats as they fly around the soil.
2. Remove the top inch of soil from each houseplant. This method is a messy but important step in removing the fungus gnat larvae that grow inside the soil before they become those annoying flying adults. This is crucial to decreasing the amount of adults you need to trap and therefore, less cruel in my mind. But maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better! Either way, I suggest you remove that top layer and throw it away outside if possible.
3. Stop watering for a few weeks. Since fungus gnats are attracted to moist soil, and the larvae thrive in dampness, dry them out! If you have a plant that you simply must water, (I’m thinking calathea or fern here) then be sure to use the soil removal method first. Then add the sticking paper right away.
4. Top Dress your Plants. Using rocks, sand, and dry moss are three beautiful ways you can add a decorative top layer to the soil of your houseplants. This discourages the flying adults who are roaming around looking for a new home to lay their eggs.
5. Take your houseplants outside for a few weeks. If your weather is mild, grab all the contaminated plants and place them outside in a sheltered area for a few weeks to allow the gnats to fly away. Again, not watering these if possible to encourage the adults to find a new home, preferably away from yours!
*** I haven’t tried another popular method, using beneficial nematodes. I will give it a go soon to share my results.
Place paper just inside the lip of the pot to hide the bright yellow, not cute unless you happen to have a bright yellow pot!