Posted in category: Pest Control.

Get Rid of Fungus Gnats

If you’ve visited Tiny Green Gardens before, you may have seen my rants about store-bought soil coming with an undisclosed bonus – fungus gnat larvae.

trapped-gnatWith my fish tank terrarium, I made the giant mistake of using some old bagged dirt. It wasn’t the big bag of Miracle Gro that had come with fungus gnats but some old stuff that we had had for a while. I planted the beautiful British soldier lichen, the partridgeberry vine, sheet moss and was going to plant a new fern plant in it. Thankfully, I hadn’t purchased the fern yet; just left room for it.

Everything was doing swimmingly. Until the fungus gnats came out to play. I foolishly thought if I kept killing the adults that it would get under control. Silly me. Pretty soon it was all out war.

I was originally going to treat all new plantings and plant purchases with a dose of Mosquito Bits as a top dressing. The elder statesman of gardening in our household, aka Mom, said that was ridiculous. I didn’t. I was right, she was wrong. Gnats galore. sigh

Fighting fungus gnats requires a two-pronged approach. Killing just the flying ones only slightly slows down the infestation. You’ve gotta do more than smoosh the flying buggers. You’ve got to kill the larvae before they hatch too.

I think I’ve finally gotten them under control and just have to wait for the last crop of hatchlings to die, be squished or caught.

Homemade Fungus Gnat Killer & Traps

I tried dumping diluted hydrogen peroxide on them. I literally watched a new hatchling crawl out of the dirt, through my moss and shake off the poison I had just rained down on him. I got so mad, I poured undiluted peroxide on that little sucker and he just fluttered and shook it off like I was giving him his weekly shower.

I tried smearing petroleum jelly on a yellow card. Now, granted I might have been stingy with the gooey stuff, but I watched several little buggers simply walk across the cards full of goo and go about their business.

In between all of that, I had tried letting the soil dry out some between waterings. All that did was turn my beautiful lichens, vines and moss into plants on the brink of death and holding on by a thread. All of the glorious red tops of the lichen were now black. Damn bugs.

Mosquito Bits®

mosquito-bitsOff to Amazon to order some battle gear – Mosquito Bits and yellow sticky traps.

Buying Mosquito Bits is pretty straight forward, pick a size, put it in your cart and buy them.

I purchased the smaller bottle. It says it can treat up to 2178 square feet.

Considering my fish tank terrarium is 2 and my cookie jar terrarium is about 1 square foot; I think the smaller container of Mosquito Bits will last until I’m old and gray.

According to the label, it can be “applied to areas that contain aquatic life, fish and plants. Can be applied to areas used by or in contact with humans, animals, horses, livestock, pets, birds or wildlife.”

For fungus gnat control, “Sprinkle or spread the granules over the soil until the area is covered. Water will release the Bti (that’s the great stuff that kills those darn fungus gnat larvae) into the soil where the larvae of the Fungus gnats will feed on it and die. Repeat this process for a three-week period for control. If fungus gnats reappear start process over, sprinkling granules on and watering again for a three-week period.”

I sprinkled a fair amount of granules in my terrariums and a little on the nearby potted plants. You would think I still had a new jar – that’s how far these little bits of magic go. So far so good, I am seeing far fewer flying insects and am not seeing new ones drying their wings on my lichens anymore.

Fungus Gnat Traps

The sticky traps were trickier. There are a number of different manufacturers and apparently a number of different success rates. I opted for what, at the time, appeared to be the most cards rather than the nicest display paraphernalia. I had noticed that folks had complained about my choice coming with the cards stuck together and that they weren’t “professionally packaged” but I didn’t particularly care about a pretty box. As to being stuck together, hopefully they were exaggerating.

I ordered 50 Hafer Dual sticky traps double-sided cards that came with 50 white twist ties.

An important note here . . . read the product descriptions very carefully. Many are calling the yellow sticky traps kits with a certain amount of pieces. The important part is how many sticky cards are in the kit, not how many pieces they use to hang the traps. A 30 piece kit could have 30 sticky traps or 15 traps and 15 twist ties.

yellow-sticky-trapsMy “kit” came in a zip-lock baggie with the twist ties and traps together. The traps were stacked like cards and some of the glue did squeeze out of the ends of the cards.

Yes, removing a trap or two from the bag is a sticky proposition and you’ll probably end up ripping the baggie like I did. Once I got the edges apart, the traps were fine.

Two great pieces of advice I learned from the reviewers’ comments – cut the traps into smaller pieces and use one side at a time to double the number of traps for your money. (My gnats did seem to be more susceptible to the smaller traps as well.) Several others suggested just laying the traps directly on the dirt or pot rim. I opted to only use one side, cut it into several pieces and laid it on the dirt or my moss. I balanced pieces across a few nearby pot rims too.

I have seen one or two of the little buggers manage to get away but I’ve also seen more than a few get caught by a single leg or wing and not be able to get away. The stick-um is plenty strong enough to keep even the most desperate fungus gnats trapped.

That does bring up the one thing I don’t like about these traps. I want the fungus gnats gone, dead, gone, c-ya. But, I wasn’t a huge fan of watching them struggle sometimes over a day to get loose. It’s up to you what you want to do but there were several times that I just mushed the gnat flat on the stickum to put it out of its misery.

<h2>Fungus Gnat Trap – Water Traps</h2>

homemade-fungus-gnat-trapOne of the few homemade gnat traps that did see some success was a small glass with water and a drop of soap. While I doubt it would ever match the effectiveness of the sticky traps, it did manage to catch quite a few gnats.

The bowl sits in the back of my terrarium and I’ve been just adding a bit of water from time to time. I don’t know how much time has elapsed since I first put it in my tiny green garden, but, as you can see, it did catch quite a few fungus gnats.

The soap I used was green.

A few other bloggers mentioned using apple cider vinegar. I didn’t, but, it might be worth a try.

Fungus Gnat Trap – Paper Mache?

It just might have been a coincidence but I was doing a paper mache project yesterday. And, there, floating in the paste was a darn gnat. The paste had flour, water, salt and a touch of cinnamon. It wouldn’t work as a trap but maybe there was something about the scent that attracted the little flying demon. It might be worth pursuing, if you’re desperate.

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