While many people view gnats as only a nuisance and an eye sore real gardeners understand the risks that a gnat infestation can cause. There are many houseplants that are susceptible to attack by many insects and mite pests. Some of these houseplant pests(including gnats) can cause extensive damage to the appearance and health of the plant. It is also important to keep in mind that plants that are not vigorously growing and/or are under stress may be particularly susceptible to insect and mite injuries. One of the most common of these houseplant pests is the gnat. Yet it is important to understand that there are several methods of managing gnats in houseplants.
One of the keys to preventing an all-out infestation of gnats in houseplants is to take some preventative steps. One of the first steps that any gardener can do is to carefully check plants before purchasing and quarantine them in a separate area for a few weeks to avoid introducing any new pest problems. This is done since many houseplant insect problems are introduced by infested plants. It has been shown that changes in cultural practices can help control many houseplant insects, such as fungus gnats.
While quarantine can help control the spread of the problem it can not eliminate the problem entirely. There are several insecticides that are available to control houseplant pests. And in getting rid of gnats there are also biological controls that can work as well. Some of the methods of managing a gnat infestation are-
· Syringing plants-Keeping your plants clean without over watering can help deter a gnat infestation since gnats are drawn to decaying plant material. Just make sure that the soil does not become over watered since this defeats the purpose of keeping the plant clean.
· Cultural changes-Watering can affect houseplant pests in a couple of different of ways. Having excessively moist soil favors the development of problems with fungus gnats. Making small changes in the way you care for plants can help deter the formation of gnats.
· Handpicking-Carefully using handpicking can control the environment in which gnats would want to flourish. Carefully picking up dead leaves and other plant debris will help keep down the chances of gnats wanting to form in your houseplants.
· Trapping-You can use the yellow sticky traps to reduce the number of flying gnats. These traps are sold commercially or you can easily make them by cutting bright yellow cardboard and covering it entirely with petroleum jelly or some other sticky material. Keep in mind though that trapping alone will not entirely eliminate problems because much of the population, including the younger stages, remain on or about the plants.
· Sanitation-It is important to understand that seriously infested plants are often best discarded because they usually require lengthy and extraordinary efforts to control a gnat infestation. These problem plants may also serve as a source for infesting other plants. It can also be shown that you can use periodic “host-free” intervals to cause insects that survive for short periods without feeding to die out.
· Biological controls-Under certain conditions, you can use natural enemies of houseplant pests to reduce the problem to acceptable levels. However, these are relatively difficult to acquire and are usually available only through specialty suppliers. An online search can provide the best biological solutions for controlling an infestation of gnats.
· Alcohol-Some gardeners advocate a few sprays of alcohol, or alcohol dabbed onto areas where gnats congregate as a way to control them. However,it is important to keep in mind that using alcohol on plants may cause injuries such as leaf burn. Be sure to carefully test a small part of the plant if you decide to use this method.