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Control Fungus Gnats with Natural Products
Top-selling BTI mosquito control and horticultural oil also control pesky fungus gnats
By: Summit Responsible Solutions
Fungus gnats (Bradysia species) are small, mosquito-like insects that commonly infest the growing medium in which houseplants and outdoor potted plants grow. Often, when outdoor plants are brought indoors for the colder months, fungus gnats harbored in the potting mix are brought indoors, where they can quickly infest the soil of other houseplants.
Fungus insects can be difficult to control because they thrive in moist potting soil. Fungus gnats lay their eggs in moist potting soil, and the larvae live in the top two to three inches. In the larval stage, the fungus gnat maggots can cause plant damage by eating plant roots. After about two or three weeks, the fungus gnat maggots pupate in the potting soil to become the tiny black adult gnats that fly erratically when a potted plant is moved.
Letting the potting soil dry out between waterings helps control fungus gnats. But sometimes more aggressive measures are needed to control the pests. Fortunately, there are now natural, non-chemical solutions that kill fungus gnat infestations.
Kill fungus gnat larvae with BTI
Because fungus gnats are closely related to mosquitoes, fungus gnat larvae are effectively killed by BTI—the naturally occurring bacterium that is deadly to mosquito larvae. BTI, short for Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, is deadly to mosquito larvae and fungus gnat larvae but harmless to other living things. The bacterium is nature’s way of keeping fungus gnat and mosquito populations down, but it has no effect on other insects (such as bees and butterflies)—
BTI is the active ingredient in top-selling Mosquito Bits®, which is approved for the control of fungus gnats. To kill fungus gnat larvae, simply shake the granular Mosquito Bits® onto the potting soil in houseplants and other container-grown plants. Mosquito Bits® can also be mixed with potting soil prior to planting. When the plants are watered, the BTI in the Mosquito Bits® will be released. After subsequent watering, the BTI is washed below the soil surface. Fungus gnat larvae feed on the BTI and die.
Kill adult fungus gnats with horticultural oil
There is also an environmentally friendly, organic way to kill infestations of adult fungus gnats. Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil is a light-weight horticultural oil that effectively controls a wide variety of insect pests, including fungus gnats. Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil is OMRI Listed® by the Organic Materials Review Institute and approved for use in certified organic production, and it’s perfect for indoor use.
Unlike many other pesticides that kill insects with toxic chemicals, Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil literally smothers insects to death. The oil spray blocks an insect’s breathing holes (called spiracles), causing insects to die from asphyxiation.
Summit Year-Round Spray Oil can be used any time during the year because it won’t harm plant buds, shoots or leaves. This lightweight oil has no odor, and it will effectively control pests on even sensitive plants such as tropical houseplants, roses, impatiens, citrus trees, and ferns. Summit Year-Round Spray Oil kills fungus gnats plus a wide variety of insect pests including aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, mealybugs, scale, thrips, lace bugs and more.
Because of its low toxicity, organic Summit Year-Round Spray Oil can be used on garden plants and fruit trees right up to the day of harvest. Unlike chemical pesticides which can become less effective after repeated use, there is no known build-up of insect resistance to horticultural oil sprays.
Mosquito Bits and Summit Year-Round Spray Oil are made by Summit Responsible Solutions, which also makes the popular Mosquito Dunks product. Mosquito Bits is available in an eight-ounce shaker bottle and a large 30-ounce package. Summit Year-Round Spray Oil concentrate is available in one pint and one quart bottles, and a handy one-quart ready-to-use spray bottle is also available.
Mosquito Bits and Summit Year-Round Spray Oil are available at home centers, hardware stores, garden centers and at www.summitchemical.com.
Mosquito Bits, Summit Year-Round Spray Oil, Mosquito Dunks, Summit Responsible Solutions and “Kills Mosquitoes Before They’re Old Enough to Bite” are registered trademarks of Summit Chemical Company.
Randy Schultz, Schultz Communications