Information, Identification, and Extermination
Get rid of fungus gnat problems at home.
Fungus gnats are pests of greenhouses, nurseries and interior plant scapes. Although they do not bite or transmit pathogenic organisms to human and their animals, they can be considered a nuisance by their presence in and around structures, especially when they appear in a large number.
Adult flies are short-lived insects and may be noticed away from their breeding sources flying around light fixtures or windows; therefore, a successful management plan of fungus gnats can only be accomplished by an understanding of their biology and habits in the infested area.
Fungus Gnat Appearance
Adults are mosquito-like, small (1/8 inch long), fragile grayish to black flies with long, slender legs and thread-like antennae. They have one pair of clear or smokey-colored wings with no pattern and few distinct veins (the common Bradysia species have a Y-shaped wing vein). Larvae are clear to creamy-white and can grow to about 1/4 inch long. They have shiny black head capsules.
Eggs hatch in 4 to 6 days. The larvae feed for 12 to 14 days on fungi and decaying organic matter, root hairs and small feeder roots. The pupal stage is completed in about 5 to 6 days. Newly emerged adults live about 7 to 10 days. Females lay up to 100 to 300 eggs in 2 to 30 batches in decaying organic matter on the moist soil surface or in soil cracks. The life cycle lasts about four weeks, with continuous reproduction where warm temperatures are available. There are many overlapping generations per year.
Fungus Gnat Control
- Check plants before purchasing for any sign of pests. Greenhouses and nurseries can be natural breeding grounds for insects like fungus gnats due to the moist warm environment.
- Avoid overwatering plants. Fungus gnats thrive in damp environments.
- Allow soil to dry almost down to the bottom in-between waterings. This will kill any existing larvae. Soil will also be less attractive to females ready to lay eggs.
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