How to get rid of fungus gnats – 4 foolproof ways

This Morning: Alice Beer shares tips for removing pests

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Fungus gnats are tiny flies that can quickly infest organic materials like soil and potting mix. This can then prove detrimental to any garden, with larvae chewing roots, stunting plant growth and generally being a nuisance.

Fungus gnats are not harmful to humans, however can be a definite annoyance for any gardener who discovers an infestation.

When it comes to identifying the pests, adult fungus gnats have slender legs and segmented antennae which grow to longer than their head.

Species can vary from half an inch long, to around 1⁄16 to 1⁄8 inch long.

They have light grey or clear wings, and if you have the common Bradysia species in your greenhouse you will be able to spot a Y-shaped wing vein.

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Female fungus gnats lay their eggs in moist organic debris or potting soil.

When hatched into larvae, they have a shiny black head and and long, white-to-clear, legless body.

Fungus gnat young feast on organic mulch, leaf mould, grass clippings, compost, root hairs, and fungi.

Sometimes you may be able to see a slime trail on the surface of your soil from the larvae, which appears if the environment is moist.

How to get rid of fungus gnats

1. Dry out your soil

Fungus gnats and their young thrive in moist, rich conditions as they feed on fungus.

You can often find fungus gnat infestations when a plant has been overwatered.

To combat this, using a fork or other tool turn up around two centimetres of soil.

You may see the larvae and eggs as you do this.

Leave the soil to dry out to around one and a half inches in depth and then you can water again.

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2. Apple Cider Vinegar trap

Fungus gnats are naturally attracted to apple cider vinegar, and so you can trap them if you know how.

Plantadvice.co.uk advises filling a jar or bowl with “apple cider vinegar, cider or beer”.

Cover with clingfilm and then piece a few times with a sharp fork.

You will find the gnats will climb through the holes you’ve made but get stuck and drown in the vinegar.

Be warned this method only works on adult gnats, and does not kill the larvae.

3. Chamomile Tea & Cinnamon

This tip is one touted by many gardening aficionados, with cinnamon and chamomile being natural fungicides.

Plantadvice.co.uk advises first brewing a litre of strong Chamomile tea with boiling water.

Then leave to cool and mix tea with four parts water.

Water your plants with the tea mix.

Then, sprinkle cinnamon over the surface of the soil.

You can repeat this method until the gnats are gone.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

If you need something a bit stronger to tackle your infestation, you can use hydrogen peroxide.

This will kill all larvae and eggs – and with adult gnats only living for around seven days you will eradicate the infestation.

Plantadvice.co.uk’s method is

  • Mix one part nine percent hydrogen peroxide with six parts water
  • Allow top layer of soil to completely dry out before drenching the soil in the peroxide solution
  • After fizzing for about 30 seconds, hydrogen peroxide will break down into oxygen and water, both of which are harmless to your plants

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