Fungus gnats ‘biggest threat’ to houseplants this summer – ‘critical’ way to prevent flies

Fungus gnats ‘biggest threat’ to houseplants this summer – ‘critical’ way to prevent flies


Houseplants that are 'impossible to kill'

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Sciarid flies, also known as fungus gnats, are associated with damp composts especially in houseplants and seed trays. Although mostly harmless, they can be enough to make owners want to bin their houseplants forever. Their constant buzzing can also be incredibly annoying and according to experts, there’s no reason to live with them unnecessarily.

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Indoor plant specialists at Exubia, explained: “The rise in sciarid fly infestations can be linked to an increase in houseplant enthusiasts using peat-free compost.

“This is ahead of the ban on peat-based gardening products coming into place in 2024.

“As peat is completely sterile, there’s no organic matter that can decay and attract the flies to the compost.

“Unfortunately, peat-free compost tends to be crafted from a range of different organic materials and as a result, sciarid flies will nest on it.”

To prevent an infestation, the experts recommended the “most important” thing to do.

They said to avoid leaving organic matter laying around the house.

This includes rotting fruit and decaying foods.

The experts added: “These are magnets for the flies which are then likely to migrate to your compost.

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“Even consuming sugary food and beverages can be a risk.

“A small spillage of fruit juice or an energy drink could easily be the start of a fairly significant infestation.

“Another critical step is to try to ensure you’re not overwatering your houseplants.

“The organic matter in damp compost decomposes faster than in dry compost which in turn makes it more attractive to sciarid flies.”

During the summer months, it was recommended to keep plants spread out, rather than in a large cluster.

Although this won’t prevent a fly infestation altogether, it can help prevent them spreading between plants.

The plant experts continued: “If you do find yourself with an infestation, then it’s not game over.

“There are several simple steps you can take to eliminate them.

“One of the first steps to take is to let your plants dry out completely in-between waterings.

“When the moisture in the soil isn’t sufficient, then the larvae can’t survive.

“Another key step is to introduce sticky pads. The pads can be picked up for under £5 and use adhesive to trap the flies and keep them away from your houseplants.

“For extreme infestation cases, the experts recommended using diatomaceous earth.”

They said it is the “most effective solution”.

It is also non-toxic and does not involve the use of any harsh chemicals or pesticides. 

The experts said: “The powder is made up of microscopic, sharp pieces of earth and can be laid on top of the compost to deter flies from feeding and hatching on the compost.”

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