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Argh! Bugs!!!

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
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by gardeningmomma on April 02, 2006 08:14 AM
Please help! I just watered my plants and my big 4 foot plant in the living room had little black bugs coming out of it. Any suggestions as to what I can do?
by Will Creed on April 02, 2006 09:17 AM
Hi Gail,

Can you describe the bugs? Size, wings, location, etc.
by gardeningmomma on April 03, 2006 07:42 AM
They are small- they remind me of fleas. They flew out of the plant when I watered it. They have what look like see through wings. I don't seem to see any of the bugs on the plant itself, just in the soil.
Thanks, Will.
by Will Creed on April 03, 2006 10:11 AM

Sounds like you have fungus gnats. Adult fungus gnats fly around and are an annoyance, but they are not harmful to people. Each gnat lives for about 5 days. The trick is to get rid of the next generation - the gnat larvae that live in the top layer of the soil. The larvae feed on decaying organic matter. Decaying pine bark in potting mixes and decaying plants roots feed the larvae. Try to keep the soil as dry as possible. Remove all loose soil from the surface and put a light layer of coarse coir (coconut husk) or sand or diatomaceous earth on the soil surface. These substances have sharp edges that carve up the larvae. (Recent studies indicate that fine-textured peat moss also deters gnat larvae.)

Another safe technique is to place ½ inch slices of raw potato on the surface of the soil. After a day or so, discard the slices along with the larvae inside. Repeat this until there are no more larvae in the potato.

Detection trick: Add a little water to the soil and then look very closely for tiny fungus gnat larvae swimming in the water as it pools on the surface. You need good light and good eyes to see them. If you don't, then your plant is probably gnat free.

Prevention is often the best remedy. Use sterile potting mixes that are free of bark chips. The potting mix should have ample drainage material, such as perlite so that it drains well and allows the soil to dry out frequently. Fungus gnats can nearly always be traced back to overwatering and/or poor soil quality.
by gardeningmomma on April 04, 2006 07:34 AM
Thank you! I will post back in a few days and let you know how we did.
by gardeningmomma on April 11, 2006 08:10 AM
I think they are gone! Will, I used the potatoes and then did water and I don't see anymore eggs. So hopefully they are gone. I've also isolated that plant from my others, so hopefully nothing else is infected. I did an inspection of them all and they appear to be bug free.
Thaks for your wonderful advice,
by Bill on April 11, 2006 08:25 AM
Will (the punk) is gone too! [Frown]

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