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How To Get Rid of Fungus Gnats (2020 Edition)

Looking to get rid of fungus gnats?!

Pest Strategies has your answers!

In this guide you'll learn:

  • What fungus gnats are
  • How to tell the difference between a fungus gnat and fruit fly
  • Where fungus gnats like to live
  • If fungus gnats spread diseases
  • Some of our top ways to get rid of them
how to get rid of fungus gnats

If you like to garden, at some point you will probably find fungus gnats in your home. Fungus gnats don't feed on people, but can be a nuisance because they fly around and can cause problems.

Thankfully, there are many ways to get rid of them. Let's have a look!

What are fungus gnats?

Fungus gnats are a small species of fly which tend to be black or dark gray. The adults range between 1/16-1/18 of an inch long and feature white or light gray wings.

They look similar to mosquitoes and are actually quite delicate and easy to kill. The eggs and larvae are difficult to see without a microscope and have shiny black heads.

They love to feed on wet and rotting wood (think wood chips). 

Fungus gnats vs fruit flies

The term, "gnat" tends to be a catch-all phrase that describes any tiny black bug to hard to identify by a non-expert. 

Fruit flies are specifically bugs that feed on and lay eggs in fruit. Fungus gnats like to hang out around plants.

If you're still not sure what exactly you're looking at, we recommend checking out more of our other resources.

Other Resources

Where do fungus gnats live?

Fungus gnats like sources which undergo organic decomposition. This means that they live in soil, potting mix, and other organic material used to help grow plants.

People who keep multiple plants indoor might end up finding fungus gnats in their homes more frequently than those who don't.

They like the light, so you might find them near your windows and especially in plants in that region. Since they are weak fliers, fungus gnats don't move around much and will also stay near soil, compost, or other decomposing materials.

Here's an image of fungus gnat larva pulled from the bottom of a potted plant.

fungus gnat larva

Do fungus gnats spread diseases?

You're probably not going to catch anything from fungus gnats, especially since they don't bite people. They're usually just considered a nuisance because they reproduce and fly around plants.

If you're a responsible gardener, you do need to worry about the health of your plants. Fungus gnat larvae can cause root damage and dehydration in plants because they borrow in the soil and feed on the roots.

So no disease to humans, but potentially catastrophic root damage...

fungus gnat root damage

What are some ways to get rid of fungus gnats?

You have several options to protect the health of your plants. The first step is to just regularly monitor the status of your plants and see whether or not adult fungus gnats fly around the area.

If they do, the best way to kill fungus gnats is to target the larvae to stop harmful root damage. Below are some of the most effective ways to eliminate fungus gnats before they eliminate your plants.

Using Traps

Adults who are causing problems can be caught using sticky traps. Sticky traps consist of a paper coated in glue which catches fungus gnats, so they leave you and your family alone. Larvae, which are a bigger problem, can actually be trapped using potato chunks. Cut a fresh potato and insert it into the soil a safe distance away from plant roots. Leave the potato in the soil for a few days and then remove infested chunks. You can repeat this process as often as necessary and don't have to use any chemicals in the process!

Biological Control

Biological control refers to the process of using naturally derived products or predators to eliminate a pest. You can purchase specific nematodes, mites, or an insecticide that can be applied to the soil to kill larvae.

The nematodes and mites can provide long-term protection against fungus gnats but require special treatment to keep alive for the first few generations. They also need to be mail-ordered while most gnat insecticides can be purchased from local nurseries or garden centers.

This means you will need to apply a chemical mixture, but it doesn't harm the plant and can prevent future generations of gnats from living in the soil.

Check out this nematode guide for more information on using them for pest control!

Maintaining Your Soil

Regular soil management can help you prevent and get rid of fungus gnats. First, make sure you don't add excess moisture to the potting soil. Second, be careful about how much biological material you include.

Don't overuse fertilizers or compost, and make sure to purchase pasteurized materials. Pasteurized soil uses heat and steam to kill off any gnat larvae and the biological material they like to eat, so buying the soil can help prevent infestations that come from the potting mix.

Final thoughts on fungus gnat elimination

Fungus gnats are a nuisance that's easy for you to remove. Gnats will not harm humans and animals, and the adults won't hurt your plants either. To kill the larvae, you have many different options.

Using some of the above techniques, you can preserve the health of your plants and use all natural materials to keep your home free of pesky infestations. 

Other Gnat Guides

Curious about other gnat related articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

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