‘Best way’ to ‘kill’ fungus gnats on houseplants using kitchen staple – they ‘will die’

Monstera: Houseplant expert details how to remove pests

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Homeowners might sometimes see tiny bugs fluttering in and around their houseplant pots, and these are likely to be fungus gnats. Typically, three to 4mm long with greyish brown bodies, these little pests are magnetised to damp soil and decaying leaves, which explains why houseplants are a particular hotspot for the gnats. Although they’re not harmful, their presence is often a nuisance, and their excessive breeding habits mean it’s best to combat fungus gnats sooner rather than later.

Fungus gnats don’t discriminate, so even if Britons opt for the best houseplants, they may still find themselves with a gnat infestation. 

However, there are simple ways to treat both houseplants to put a halt to the sudden appearance of fungus gnats and to avoid them infesting homes in the first place.

Fungus gnats, as the name suggests, make their home in fungus, but where is this fungus that’s causing gnats to invade your home?

Doctor Nancy Troyano, a board-certified entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control explained: “Fungus gnats enter residential properties when fungi sprout on access moisture in or around a residence, while over-watered lawns and landscaping are commonly a cause of fungus gnat issues on the exteriors of homes.”

Unless your home is experiencing issues with damp, mould and fungus, the most likely source of fungus gnats is your houseplants. 

Naomi Robinson of Houseplant Authority said: “Gnats tend to appear on your houseplants when your plant’s soil is too wet.

“When this happens, your plant will start to rot and grow fungus, and it’s this fungus which gnats are drawn to.”

Fungus gnats lay their eggs in this soil, so you could soon find yourself with a serious infestation. 

Swatting a few gnats away isn’t enough to beat a full-blown infestation. 

Naomi said: “It’s important to keep in mind that getting rid of gnats involves not only removing the ones you can see flying around, which are the adults, but also any larvae that are likely in the soil.

Here’s how to tackle both the gnats flying around your home and the source of your gnat troubles. 

Gnats lay their larvae in the wet soil, and especially love a houseplant which has mould. 

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That means, your first step to getting rid of gnats is the same as getting rid of mould on houseplant soil.

The houseplant expert said: “No matter the exact reason behind why your plants suddenly have gnats, the best way to get rid of them is to replace the soil and repot the affected plants. 

“Make sure you also clean your plant’s pot thoroughly to make sure any larvae are well and truly gone.”

Adult gnats can be tackled with all kinds of fly removal sprays and devices, but fly traps that have pheromones that attract gnats work particularly well, especially when using apple cider vinegar.

Naomi explained: “My best way is to simply mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water, then add a couple of drops of dish soap.

“Put this mixture in a small dish near the plant that the gnats seem to like and they’ll soon find their way to the liquid.”

The houseplant pro isn’t alone at suggesting this as experts at Good Earth Plants explained how effective this hack is.

They said: “You can make your own organic traps to kill the adult fungus gnats. 

“You can fill the bottom of a deep bowl with apple cider vinegar and put it near your infested house plants. The gnats love it, and will fall into it and die.”

Once the soil is changed, it’s worth letting it dry out before considering watering it again.

Brody Hall of The Indoor Nursery advised: “Make sure the potting mix is dry to the touch before watering your plant.

“Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for gnats in houseplants, so letting the soil dry out between waterings will help keep them away.”

For another natural way to get rid of plant pests, look to supplementing your space with even more houseplants, particularly the carnivorous type.

Ayelet Faerman, founder of plant delivery firm Verdant Lyfe explained: “We also like using carnivorous plants along our existing plants to help with the adult fungus gnats and trap them.” 

Plants such as Venus flytraps and pitcher plants are a good place to start. 

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