NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 22, 2014

Tim's Tips: Be on the lookout for fungus gnats

Often, a customer will come into the store and tell me about the problem that he or she is having with fruit flies in the home. He or she is puzzled because there wasn’t any overly ripe fruit in the house. The flies do tend to hang around the houseplants.

As it turns out, these flies are not fruit flies, they are fungus gnats.

Adult fungus gnats lay eggs in the soil of houseplants. The eggs hatch out, and the larvae damage the roots of the plants. Eventually, the larvae turn into adults and lay more eggs, and the whole cycle begins again.

The larvae can cause significant damage to the roots of your plants. Ultimately, enough damage can kill the plants.

Fungus gnats can be a major problem for a greenhouse that is growing plants and can be difficult to control. If you have plants that you put out each summer and then bring in again in the fall, you may be bringing the fungus gnats back into your home. Fungus gnats prefer a moist soil. If you have plants that you bring into the house and you keep the soil too wet, you will encourage the population of fungus gnats to grow.

Fungus gnats have become immune to many insecticides, but recent research has shown that there is an organic control that homeowners can use that is effective at getting fungus gnats under control.

Many of you have heard of a product called Mosquito Dunks. This product is used to control mosquito larvae in areas of standing water around the outside of your home. The dunks release bacteria that kill the mosquito larvae without harming birds and other wildlife. Scientists discovered that the bacterium that kills the mosquito larvae is also effective at controlling the fungus gnat larvae.

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