insects and houseplants

Beverly Erlebacher bae at cs.toronto.edu
Thu Jun 5 11:14:02 EST 2003


In article <8lzDa.35233$ca5.8750 at nwrdny02.gnilink.net>,
gingerobyn <gingerobyn at yahoo.com> wrote:
>i don't seem many current on topic posts, so i dont know if anyone is out
>there to answer questions, but i hope so! 

Questions like these are best posted in rec.gardens.

>i dont know much about plants, but
>love them so my apartment is adorned with some. in the spring and summer
>time they end up having these little black insects flying around them and
>around my apartment. i have ended up getting rid of some plants when i saw
>the tiny little winged bugs crawling around in the soil in numerous amounts
>but i dont want to do that. i tried spraying them with soapy water and i
>also tried spraying them with a store bought spray to eliminate insects.
>neither worked. i was free of them for a few months after i dumped the ones
>where they were most prolific, but now the bugs are back and i dont know
>what to do about them. they don't appear to harm my plants but they are very
>annoying and they end up multiplying. if anyone has any idea what to do
>about them please let me know. thanks!     -ginger

They are fungus gnats.  The larvae live on organic matter in the soil.
You can discourage them by letting the soil dry out between waterings,
especially the top cm or two of soil.  It may help to put a layer of
sand about that thick on top.  The idea here is to make the pots
unattractive to females that want to lay eggs there.

To get rid of adults, you can use the yellow sticky traps sold to
control white flies.  They work even better for fungus gnats, in my
experience.

You can buy several pesticides targeted for fungus gnats, but I've
found the above measures are quite effective.  Although they can cause
damage to plants under some circumstances, I've always found these
gnats to be harmless, but they can be a nuisance - especially for
roommates, spouses and coworkers who are less fond of plants than you
are.

Also - if you get a sudden big outbreak, check your plants for dead
flower bulbs, rotting roots, etc.  Fungus gnats can convert these
things into more fungus gnats at an amazing rate.




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