Have you ever pondered, “What are those tiny flies flying in my plants?” well! The answer to your question is simple; you may have a fungus gnat infestation.

What are Fungus gnats?

Get rid of gnats
Get rid of gnats | Image Credit – Flickr

Starting, let us understand what gnats are; gnats can be understood as flies with a four-stage lifecycle. They usually begin as eggs and develop into larvae, pupa, and adults. They typically reside on the top layer of damp soil and reproduce 150 – 200 eggs at a time. The process starts with the eggs hatching and then into larvae which feed on the fungus on the top layer of the damp soil, ergo the name fungus gnat.

They’ve reached adulthood when they start buzzing around, and the cycle then repeats itself.

Depending upon the condition duration of the plant, such as moisture, humidity, and temperature, it takes 2.5 weeks to complete its lifecycle. 

Adult gnats will buzz around the pot; they don’t fly very far and seem to be aiming for your face.

These flies are often compared to fruit flies, but they’re not the same; it’s pretty easy to differentiate them, as Fungus gnats are slender and have long legs with transparent wings and a blackhead, whereas Fruit flies are more organe with stubbier legs.

Are you lost or don’t know where to start? Here’s a simple guide to inform you if you have gnats or not in your plants!

Does my plant have a gnat problem?

Here are a few indications to examine before diagnosing your plant with gnats, as these flies may not be visual to the naked eyes or identify if it is infested in plans. Even while these minor bugs don’t hurt the plant (unless it’s a severe case), they can be a pain to deal with. Here’s a list of symptoms you can use to diagnose gnats:

1. The plant stops growing

Check if your plant has gnats
Check if your plant has gnats | Image Credit – Pixabay

It’s not always the flies that we look out for; it can be the larvae eating your plant’s roots that ultimately absorb the plant’s nutrients.

2. The leaves begin to turn yellow and fall to the ground

The leaves begin to turn yellow and fall to the ground
The leaves begin to turn yellow and fall to the ground | Image Credit – Pxfuel

The leaves turning yellow and beginning to whilt may signify that the plant is dying and infected with the bugs. The plant may not survive if the roots are severely harmed.

3. You being to see a swarm of tiny flies around your plants

Tiny flies around your plants
Tiny flies around your plants | Image Credit – Pixabay

If you notice small flies surrounding your plants, it’s a definite sign that your plants are infested with gnats. Although you water your plants daily, these files may come, but here’s the good news! 

What are the factors that cause gnats in Plants?

The process is pretty simple to get rid of them but first, let’s dive into the actual causes of these tiny beings are? There is a variety of reasons why gnats infestation occurs; here are some common causes of them listed below:

1. Wet Soil

Excessive watering causes Gnats problems
Excessive watering causes Gnats problems | Image Credit – Flickr

If you water your plants frequently, the soil remains wet; it’s a clear sign that gnats are easily present there. Keeping the ground moist provides the flies the opportunity to survive and reproduce, which is often not a good thing.

2. Organic Termites

The larvae of fungus gnats adore feeding on organic detritus in potting soil. These bugs multiply by laying eggs in the first few inches of soil, and when the eggs hatch, they feed on the organic debris in the area. They start to pupate after around two weeks.

3. Light Source

When attracting gnats, the light source is significant. 

Six Ways to get rid of gnats!

If you observe fungus gnats hovering about your lamp or window, you can get rid of them using one of the methods listed below.

1. Let the soil dry out

One of the explanations why gnats are present is due to damp soil. It’s best to avoid watering your plants for a couple of days and let them dry. The gnats will be unable to survive in this environment and die off in the arid soil. Your houseplant will be competent to resist the dryness for longer than you assume, so skip your successive watering to get freed of the gnats.

2. Gnat Traps

Gnat trap
Gnat trap | Image Credit – Flickr

You may use numerous traps to get rid of these pesky pests if you want a speedier solution. Depending on your needs, you can make these yourself with a few home objects or go to the store and buy specialized traps. Add 2-3 driblets of liquid dish soap to a small saucer half-filled with white vinegar. 

Gnats will be drawn to the solution and fall into the trap if you position the bowl near your plant. Rep the process till there are no more gnats. If the smell of vinegar puts you off making your gnat trap, you can instead buy sticky gnat traps. 

The brilliant yellow hue of these little sheets of paper attracts gnats and traps them with glue. 

This procedure is harmless and straightforward; however, it isn’t beautiful to look at. Gnats — make sure the pieces don’t get too dry, or it won’t work.

Flycatcher: Get an indoor fly-catching device if you’re sick of gnats in your plants and need a quick fix. These are usually USB-powered and can be obtained online or in your local store. The gnats are drawn to the LED lights and fans, eventually drawing them into the trap.

Potatoes: Do you have any leftover potatoes in the kitchen? Make a trap out of them! 

Cut the potatoes into small pieces and lay them flesh side down in the dirt. Moisture will attract the fungus in the potatoes.

3. Bottom Watering Plants

Fungus gnats can be avoided by watering your plants from the bottom. Some plants need damp soil, so it isn’t good to let them dry out too much between waterings. Bottom watering refers to submerging a planter with a drainage hole in the water and allowing the plant to absorb the water via the drainage hole.

4. Use a Spray Bottle

Use spray bottle for watering plants
Use spray bottle for watering plants | Image Credit – Pxfuel

Fill a spray bottle halfway with water and the rest with dish soap. Repeat the technique until the gnats are gone, spraying the solution on the top layer of soil each time. Try this simple and natural method if you’re seeking an efficient approach to get rid of fungus gnats.

5. Installing a drainage hole barrier

Gnats can also enter plants through the bottom drainage holes and deposit eggs there. When repotting your plants, usually place a piece of coffee filter in the bottom to keep the dirt from flowing out, so that could be useful.

6. Make a watering schedule that works for you

Make a schedule
Make a schedule | Image Credit – Freepik

Establishing a proper watering schedule will aid in the destruction of any eggs or larva in the soil. In addition, it will keep fungus gnats out in the future. Before watering, make sure the top few inches of soil are completely dry (for more common houseplants). A moisture meter is available, but don’t fuss for one.

Frequently Asked Questions about gnats!

Do you have any unanswered queries about how to get rid of fungus gnats? We’ve developed a list of frequently asked questions to assist you in being the best gardening and houseplant expert you can be!

Fungus gnats, will they go away on their own?

Fungus gnats will not leave you alone. You’ll have to take circumstances into your own hands and attempt various approaches to get rid of these pests if you want them to stay away for a long time. Simple solutions such as draining excess water may be sufficient, but traps may be required if there are too many.

Is it okay if I spray fungus gnats?

Spraying the gnats off the plant is a realistic alternative if you want to make sure they’re gone. 

Another way is that you can take the natural route and use water and soap or use store-bought insecticide sprays for a more aggressive option. It’s important to remember that some sprays can kill beneficial insects, so use them with caution!

Do you have gnats in your house?

Although fungus gnats have wings, they only use them to fly around the soil or near the plant. Because they are drawn to carbon dioxide, you may observe some hovering near your mouth or nose.

Wrapping Up

Though fungus gnats can be a pain to deal with, they are not harmful to your potted plant or yourself. However, it is still critical to detect them early to avoid an infestation. You’ll be ready to tackle everything that comes your way if you follow our advice!

(Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Thinley Doma Ghale holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Kathmandu University. She enjoys writing articles on climate change animals and loves to travel and experience new ideas, places, meeting people, and learning from them. As a social science student, research has always been her area of interest.