5 Ways to Instantly Get Rid of Fungus Gnats in Your Home
Having issues with fungus gnats in your home? These 5 simple methods will get rid of them in no time.
We’ve all heard of gnats in general, but the term “fungus gnats” is far less common. That’s in spite of it being likely that you’ve encountered them if you’ve ever taken an interest in plants and gardening.
In the following guide, we’ll be discussing what this particular species of gnats is. We’ll also be giving you the warning signs to look out for, the six different types, and the five surefire ways to get rid of them. Without further ado, let’s go on the attack!
What Fungus Gnats Are
The individual fungus gnat has an incredibly short life span, often lasting no longer than a week. With such brevity, you might wonder why eradicating them is worth the worry. Why not just let them die of “old age”?
That’s well and good, but fungus gnats survive because of their ability to colonize. Their only drive in life is to reproduce, and they can reproduce in large numbers.
Their life cycle starts at egg and goes to larvae, pupae, and adults. To ever rid yourself of the problem, you’ll need to address the colony. To attract them, it’s important to learn what conditions they are drawn to and how to fight back.
As we move further into this article, we’ll be touching on more specifics. Before we get there, however, let’s examine what fungus gnats are not.
What They Are Not-Fungus Gnat vs Fruit Fly
More often than not, a fungus gnat will just get grouped in with fruit flies as one species. Or, some wise guy will tell you the gnat is just a baby version of the fruit fly. (Actual old wives’ tale.)
Wrong again! Fruit flies are attracted to, well, fruit! They also look like a miniature house fly, wherein the fungus gnat more closely resembles a mosquito.
It’s very important to know the difference. Doing so will influence your success at spotting the warning signs and fighting back in a timely manner.
The 6 Types of Gnats
As if the concept of telling fungus gnats from their fruit fly counterparts wasn’t enough, you can break down this specific type of gnat into six subcategories. These, in turn, break down further into sometimes as many as 950 different sub-types within the type per the University of California.
Thankfully, there are many commonalities. Each one makes these creatures easier to spot and eradicate as needed.
Sciaridae(Dark-winged Fungus Gnat)
Anywhere from one to seven millimeters in length, this particular type of fungus gnat larvae hatch into some of the most destructive breeds to plants and mushrooms. The Sciaridae are typically what gardeners will encounter when they notice their plants and vegetation rotting at the root.
Sciaridae have dark wings and live for about a week, usually around five days. Their main purpose is to reproduce. They feed on liquids.
Mycetophilidae clock in at around the same size as their other gnat counterparts. Unlike the Sciaridae, they possess more translucent wings and more closely resemble a mosquito.
Their primary foods are mushrooms, spores, liverworts, hyphae, and some forms of moss. They also generate their own light and have been known to use that in attracting potential prey outside of their fungal diet.
Not a lot different in terms of dietary needs with the Ditomyiidae form of the fungus gnat. They are less common than Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae.
Their bodies appear to be somewhat flatter. Coloring is lighter as well. The most common areas of the world to find them include Australia and parts of Asia.
This fungus gnat is somewhat bigger in length than some of his other counterparts. He runs, on average, from six to nine millimeters in length as opposed to the one-to-seven of the Sciaridae.
If you’re wondering what they eat, you won’t be for long. They get their name from having a sweet tooth for fungi, so you’re likely to find this little guy camped out in areas rich with it. Bolitophilidae are found all over the world.
Most closely associated with the Mycetophilidae, this is another globally-found form of the fungus gnat. The only two exceptions, geographically-speaking, are Africa and Antarctica.
Perhaps the hottest place and the coldest, that fact should come as no surprise. Fungus gnats don’t do very well in extreme conditions and instead hang out around more temperate climates.
If you find yourself in the forested areas of New Zealand or Australia, you’re likely to encounter the Keroplatidae, which flocks to sources of fungi in those areas. They are more popularly referred to as “glow worms.”
How You Know There Is a Problem
You now know the face of the enemy. Your next objective is to know their signs and how to act before they’ve had the chance to do too much (or any) damage.
In this section, we’ll be going over just that. First off, where are fungus gnats most likely to strike? Regardless of the type we’re talking about, it tends to be the same moist conditions.
Fungus gnats are drawn towards saturated soil, standing water, and vulnerable plant life. You also can find them in structural cracks when moisture levels are high.
It’s important to keep such areas dry and to not give water a chance to stagnate. Remember that an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.
Look for the presence of full-grown fungus gnats in the areas mentioned above. Also, watch for small white eggs along with the moisture points in the soil.
Now that we’ve covered the warning signs, here are five steps you can take to quickly get rid of the problem. Let’s continue!
1. Sticky Traps
One of the most popular additions to the fight against fungus gnats is the sticky trap. The sticky trap comes in the form of a yellow peel-and-release sheet of paper that comes affixed to a stick that you can place into the areas where fungus gnats are likely to congregate.
Sticky traps are designed to nab the circulating adults. This will eliminate the rate by which gnats can procreate. Without adults to maintain the community, the populations will thin out and disappear in a few days.
To administer, just insert them into the soil where the problems are most noticeable. Dealing with inside houseplants? Make sure you’ve stocked each room with one.
Each application is good for up to two months. You can generally tell how successful those applications are at a glance.
Potatoes themselves will not end a fungus gnat, but they can certainly point you in the right direction for where you may have an infestation. If you’re having trouble spotting, just slice up a potato into several chunks.
Next, drop those chunks into the soil itself and wait for the fungus gnats to come to it. This technique not only helps you find adult gnats with the naked eye but also serves as a beacon for larvae egg deposits.
Lift up the potato chunks once you’ve noticed the activity and apply a healthy dose of biological aggression to the area. We’ll get into exactly what that is in the next section.
3. Introducing a Biological Predator
Fungus gnats attack the root of a plant with reckless abandon. However, they attract an equally aggressive biological enemy in the nematode.
The nematode is a roundworm, microscopic in size, that feeds on fungus gnats. Introducing this creature to houseplants or outdoor affected areas will send the gnats packing in short order while eliminating colonies before they have a chance to gain a foothold.
These, along with sticky traps, are usually available for purchase at feed stores, online, and at specialty retailers. They’re harmless to humans, plants, pets, and even other worms.
Uncomfortable working with microorganisms or other gnat-killers? Consider hiring a professional to get the job done hands-free.
4. Taking Care of the Soil at Your Home
One major no-no that can attract fungus gnats starts with the best of intentions. You want to make sure your plant or garden gets plenty of water, so you go a little crazy ensuring it does.
This tendency to oversaturate creates the very conditions that welcome fungus gnats in large numbers. Your best bet is to not over-water and to allow such areas the chance to dry out before proceeding with a healthier watering pattern.
Scale back your watering for a day or two. In conjunction with this, consider adding an option like No. 1 or No. 3. A combination of efforts may accelerate the removal of fungus gnats.
If Mother Nature isn’t giving you any relief with wet-weather conditions? Stay off the soil and learn about proper plant selection to help relieve the problem.
5. Checking the Quality of a Plant Before Adding It to Your Home
Last but not least, do your homework before you go home with a plant. Home-and-garden centers and specialty retailers work hard to sell a quality product, but they are not perfect.
It’s possible the infestation occurs at their store. Before you know it, you’ve bought a problem plant and brought it into your home or garden.
Do your homework by checking moist areas of the soil before purchasing. If you notice yellowish or white eggs or can visibly see gnats present, leave the problem to the store trying to sell the plant and find another nursery.
Fungus Gnat Prevention Ensures Healthier Plants
Fungus gnats are definitely a nuisance, so it pays to prevent them from ever becoming a problem. Still, it’s a relief to know that if you do encounter these creatures, you have options to turn the tables.
Use the suggestions here and reclaim control over your plants and garden, and contact us today if you need to schedule an appointment for help dealing with the issue. Best of luck!