Fungus gnats are common pests that many people struggle with at some point. Trying to figure out how to get rid of gnats in lawn and garden areas can cause a major headache for homeowners. They are often confused with biting midges and are related but not technically the same thing. These small flying insects infest soil, potting mix, other growing soil, and media with organic decomposition. It is very difficult to get rid of gnats once they get established.
Their larvae primarily feed on fungi and organic matter in the soil but can damage the roots as they burrow and chew. And adult gnats can fly around in the air and be a nuisance and can also feed on the leave of plants in the area. Outdoor gnats are less of an issue unless they get out of hand and then they can be annoying like any other flying insect. When gnats get established in the lawn and feed off the abundant garden soil and dead plants, it can be difficult to get rid of fungus gnats completely.
Fungus Gnats Identification
Fungus gnats, most commonly of the Orfelia and Bradysia species, are dark, delicate-looking flies that very much resemble the common mosquitoes. Adult fungus gnats have long and very slender legs with segmented antennae much longer than their head in size. It is the antennae that give them the fastest identification from other common greenhouse and garden flies with much shorter antennae Fungus gnat adults commonly are about 1⁄16 to 1⁄8 inch long. Wings are light gray to clear and some common varieties have a distinguishing Y-shaped wing vein.
Female adult gnats lay thousands of tiny eggs in moist soil and organic matter, which often leads to outdoor gnat infestations as well as population explosions indoors in potted plants. Larvae have whitish-to-clear bodies that are legless and most often have shiny blackheads. They eat organic matter so anything like leaves, much, soil, hair, fur, and fungi in the soil can become a food source for the gnats naturally. It is the annoyance of their large warming habits that make homeowners and gardeners so interested in finding ways to repel gnats and the perfect ways to get rid of gnats in and around their homes and gardens.
Life/Lifecycle of Gnats
Fungus gnats develop have four distinct life stages—egg, larva (which technically has four separate larval stages or instars of its own), pupa, and adult. The tiny eggs and oblong pupae are found in the damp soils where the females lay the eggs. At 75ºF, eggs hatch in a matter of days, they spend about ten days feeding before the gnat larvae develop into pupae, and then around four days later the adult gnats emerge. They feed on plant roots, dead leaves, and organic compounds in the soil. A generation of gnats can occur every 17-20 days when the weather is favorable. The warmer and moister the environment the faster they can get through the stages.
How To Kill Gnats
Outdoors, gnats are most common during winter and spring. They can be found year-round indoors, much like many other flying insects that can be seen indoors. This can make it difficult to get rid of gnats indoors at times as fungus gnats can reproduce so quickly in the warm environment. It can take special steps and actions to kill fungus gnats when they have a population established in garden soil in or around the home. There are no real natural predators for gnat larvae the adults have no natural predators other than birds and spiders so they often are unable to control gnat populations well enough. Many simple tricks can help lower populations and help homeowners get rid of gnats, such as creating gnat traps and similar lures to attract gnats using apple cider vinegar and even peroxide. However, in many cases, a more serious approach is needed to kill fungus gnats.
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How To Prevent Gnats
Most of the time these pests are alive they are larvae in the soil so taking care of potting media, organic matter, or soil around the home is a great first step. Ensuring standing water sources are eliminated and that overwatering is not taking place can reduce the access of these gnats to suitable breeding areas. Cleaning up garden soil and removing dead plants and other organic debris can help keep populations from exploding as well. Spraying with insecticides and making the garden space hospitable for friendly insects such as spiders can also help keep the number of fungus gnats under control.
When outdoor gnat infestations get out of hand, they can make it difficult to enjoy your yard or garden space. No one wanted to deal with flying and biting gnats when they are outside trying to relax and have a good time. Controlling gnats naturally can help maintain populations, but sometimes more extreme measures need to be taken for indoor and outdoor gnats that have gotten out of hand. Please see the following FAQ for a few final tips and reminders about dealing with indoor and outdoor gnat infestations.
Fungus Gnats FAQs
What do fungus gnats eat?
Outdoor gnats feed on dead plants, soil components, and organic matter as well as need high levels of moisture in order to survive.
What eats fungus gnats?
Some other insects will eat fungus gnats when they can but primary predators include birds and spiders and a few other ground-dwelling insects.
What can kill fungus gnats naturally?
The best way to deal with these biting midges and gnats naturally is to remove their food source and keep the environment unsuitable for them.
What can kill fungus gnat larvae?
Other options to controlling these pests is to use a strong insecticides to kill the larvae and prevent adults from reproducing.