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Old 07-29-2005, 06:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tiny black gnats/flies on new plants - what are they?

I get these black gnats or tiny flying insects in my kitchen at times. They hang out around my plants that live there. I hadn't had a problem for awhile, but I bought a new live catnip plant recently, and noticed that they are back.

I don't know if they are fungus gnats, fruitflies or something else and I have lost several plants every time I notice them. Plant death may be a result of the gnats, or maybe a fungus in plants that attract the gnats are the culprit, but I don't know.

If anyone can relate to this, and has a solution/treatment to rid them which is safe to use on catnip, I would appreciate knowing.

I have moved the catnip elsewhere, but the insects have already infested my African Violets.
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Old 07-29-2005, 10:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds like Fungus Gnats.

here's an excerpt from a webpage that I found:

"Fungus Knats: In the soil, the immature, l/8 inch long maggots eat the roots. The old remedy was to soak the soil weekly, 3 times, with a solution of the chemical malathion. The new safe control is Gnatrol, a new formulation of Bacillus thuringiensis Israeliensis, which is the same ecologically safe material used for mosquito control in our swamps. "

I also found this one:

"Question: What are the little black gnats that fly out of my houseplants when I move them or water them?

Answer: Those are fungal gnats. They're more annoying than they are damaging. They are indicators of keeping your plants too wet. They develop in the algal scum that grows on top of wet soil, also on the walls of pots. Control them by (1) watering slightly less often, (2) replacing the top half-inch of potting soil with fresh soil and (3) drenching the soil with a houseplant insecticide."


And one more:

"Fungus Gnats. Adult fungus gnats are small flies that resemble mosquitoes and are grayish to black, 1/8 of an inch long, slender and delicate. Fungus gnats breed in moist areas that are high in organic matter. The larval stages feed on fungi. Large numbers may be found reproducing in potted houseplants. Adults are attracted to light and often gather in large numbers at windows. Proper water management is very important in fungus gnat control. Avoid overwatering and use sterile potting soil to prevent infestations. Insecticide applications may be necessary at times to control heavy infestations. The larvae are best controlled with soil drenches or granular insecticide formulations applied to the soil surface and watered in. Adults can be controlled with sprays or aerosols when they are observed."


It seems that I would get these bugs too in the terrarrium I have, and it would happen most often right after I watered it. It never got bad enough that I had to treat it though.

Hope that helps!
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Old 07-29-2005, 11:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Great info Nell, thanks!

I agree that they are an annoyance! They always seem to find me no matter where I am in the house, especially near my plants - and pester to no end! I have taken big gulps of coffee, THEN noticed there were several dead ones floating in it (I have a habit of pouring it, leaving it on the counter then coming back to it). I sure hope they have nutritional value!

That is what I thought they were, but wasn't sure. I also notice them after bringing home bananas, so I had been curious if they may have been fruitflies.

As far as treatment...the 'less watering' is easy. But I don't want to use any chemicals because the kitties eat the catnip. Last time I bought catnip plants from Petsmart I got them also. Grrr! They wiped out 5 of my most beautiful African Violets last time and I have only two left now.

I will re-read the option that sounded safe and look into it...as well as ask around at some of the nurseries.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-29-2005, 11:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have seem packets of catnip seeds sold in garden centers. Maybe this would be a better option for next time... ?
If you grow the catnip from seed and use sterile potting soil, you may not have to put your violets at risk.

Lucky for me, I only need to take a walk to replenish my supply of catnip. Grows like weeds all over the place! (well, I suppose it is a weed )
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Old 07-30-2005, 11:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks!

The last time I got them (not connected with catnip) was when I planted some herb seeds in a high quality sterile soil. They germinated as expected and were doing nicely. All of a sudden I got the fungal gnats, and don't know how they became re-introduced. I suspect the so-called sterile soil was not sterile after all. It did have that 'musty' smell to it. The gnats destroyed my herb garden within a few days...my poor basil never even had a chance

I will certainly look for the seeds. I always bought the live plants from petsmart, as it was just easier and I could take it straight home for the kitties. I have bought live catnip from them 3 times, and had the gnats come with 2 of them.

I am usually pretty lucky with most plants: I have a houseful of tropicals that I simply pour a little water/fertilizer in when they feel dry and they are taking over the house. I have had my violets for years and they were always beautiful until the first time I had the gnats come in with the catnip.

Guess I need to get my sterile soil from a more reputable garden center and go on a hunt for the seeds.

Thanks again!
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