Fungus Gnat Facts
The term gnat is commonly used to describe the smallest and peskiest of flies that might be found in your home. Often times this term is incorrectly used to describe fruit flies, which look quite similar to fungus gnats. While some other variations of what are thought of as gnats do feed on blood, the fungus gnat does not.
The main reason fungus gnats appear in homes is the presence of well-watered houseplants. Any sort of watered plant may have the potential to become a home for fungus gnats, so be sure to watch around your prized flowers for signs of these pests.
While they are commonly found outside in areas of moist vegetation, the tendency for houseplants may drive them inside (especially as the weather gets cooler). This means that while you may enjoy those flowers on your windowsill, you need to monitor them for the potential to draw fungus gnats inside.
Fungus Gnat Bites
Fungus gnats do not have the proper mouthparts to bite people. Your plants, on the other hand, are more threatened. Fungus gnat larvae transmit plant diseases to plants in your home or in greenhouses as they feed off of plant roots. Adults eat fungi and decaying plant matter, so greenhouses are a popular spot to find them.
Fungus Gnat Infestation
Fungus gnat larvae are typically buried in the top 2 inches of soil near some sort of vegetation. While common outside in their natural habitat they care just as common inside homes in a well-watered potted plant. After developing entirely they tend not to venture away from their plants, and will often be seen flying in circles near the base and waters soil.
Because natural rainfall can sometimes be sufficient for outdoor plants and vegetables homeowners may be more likely not to overwater them with a hose. That may be good for deterring the accumulation of fungus gnats outdoors, but it may also drive them inside to your well-watered potted plant.
While immersed in the soil surrounding plants (or other organic matter) larvae will feed on fungus the root hairs of plants. As development continues they may eventually feed upon the roots of the plant, as well as organic material in the surrounding soil. This taste for natural and organic food means they won’t be sucking your blood, but they may be sucking nutrients away from your plants.
There’s good news and bad news regarding the prevention or treatment of this pest. The good news is that exterminators are not necessarily needed. Furthermore given the most effective means of termination there is little need to buy traps, or even insecticide/ bug spray.
The bad news is that the easiest way to get rid of fungus gnats in your house in the long term may in fact kill your plants. The most common treatment method is to intentionally fail to water your plants, drying out the soil around the roots. As this is the natural nesting place of the fungus gnat larvae (and their source of food) it will eventually halt the development of the larvae, and solve the problem. Whether or not you want to sacrifice your plants to rid this pest is up to you however.
It can be frustrating as a gardener or homeowner trying to prevent an fungus gnat infestation of these bugs. By virtue of being a successful gardener, most individuals will water their plants well to see their continued growth. The downside is that this very act of trying to keep your plants alive and well may in fact attract flies that could hurt its growth. There are traps that can be purchased as an alternative, and there are some methods of homemade traps. One popular version of these homemade traps is to fill a bowl with vinegar and some sort of dish soap, and place it near the problem area. This in theory should attract the flies, but further trap them when they land on the mixture. When it works this is an excellent solution to the flies currently in the air. Unfortunately it may just be a “band aid” treatment, as there will likely be a new generation of larvae developing in the soil of your favorite plants already.
If the breeding is occurring outdoors in a garden or greenhouse be sure to screen all screening doors and windows to make sure their breeding will not find its way into the house.
Fungus Types of Gnats
Fungus Gnat Identification
Commonly described as: Dark winged, tiny black flies in my house
Usually black in color, these sometimes 3-millimeter long flies are not easy to spot. Only when they appear in large numbers are they particularly noticeable. Their small stature alone is their key-identifying feature, especially considering it can be difficult to make out any color at all unless you are quite close to them. Their habitat is another important identifier, as they are the only variation of gnat” that breeds in and develops around the soil near plants. When you see a swarm of small gnats around rotting fruits and vegetables think fruit fly. When you see them around your petunias, think fungus gnats.
Fungus Gnats In The Home & The Yard
The cases of home invasion by these gnats typically occur when one or more plant is close to the house itself. This means the females don’t have to venture too far away to find another potential breeding ground.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fungus Gnats
Why do I have these tiny black flies?
Perhaps you have a houseplant that you kept outside for the summer months. Fungus gnats are known to colonize these plants in the summer and when brought inside, the plant brings the flies with it. Any plants inside your home that might have fungus or decaying plant matter in the pot will attract fungus gnats too.
Why do I have gnats?
Most likely you have fungus gnats because of your houseplants. As your plants go through their own life cycles, fungus gnats will inhabit your plants to feed off the decaying plant matter. Their larvae feed off the roots of your plant and are found in the soil. If you bring your plants in from outside during the fall months, the fly larvae in the soil will then hatch in your home.
Benefits of Professional Gnat Pest Control
A pest management professional has the education, equipment and skills necessary to effectively address a fungus gnat problem. Finding and treating the fungus gnats can be challenging, especially if they are hidden in the building. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the fungus gnats infestation.