Pest Control: Fungus Gnats

It’s that time of year when insects are doing the rounds and buzzing about. Our orchid collections may be more vulnerable from insect damage now because the conditions are favourable for critters to start having babies – and boy do they!

Fungus Gnats - they are everywhere this time of year!
Fungus Gnats – they are everywhere this time of year!

Last year I had problems with fungus gnats, and they are back again this year. If you don’t what these are, they are those tiny little black flies that hang out near the compost or growing media of plants. They are pretty dopey in terms of the way they fly and almost always seem to want to go near your face. They love damp or moist media to lay eggs in because when the eggs hatch they like being able to eat decaying yucky stuff in plant pots.

How do we manage to keep these little critters at bay? Cue the humble Pinguicula (ping-guick-u-lar). This is a little hero for helping to control the level of fungus gnats around my orchids and he is definitely worth purchasing. If you have a garden centre near you that sells carnivorous plants, see if they have one of these. They are quite cheap and relatively easy to look after. There are plenty of videos on YouTube about caring for one of these plants. I’ve had mine about a year now and all I do is put cold boiled water in the dish he sits in – about 1cm of water – when he has absorbed it all. Do not give him fertiliser because apparently these guys hate it. Sundew plants are also meant to be good.

IMG_2194

Another tip that I have found that works is leaving a dish or bowl of water mixed with a little washing up liquid. Make sure the water is frothy before you leave it out as it helps to break surface tension. The first day or two that I tried this didn’t really produce any results, but a week later and there were about 7 little fungus gnats in the water. Hassle free pest control – that’s more like it! The water stays relatively clean for about a week but after bodies start accumulating, you’ll need to refresh it – it’s kind of gross!

Yellow sticky tape is supposed to be useful too, which you can buy online or from most garden centres. I personally haven’t tried this method as the other two work very well for me.

Happy growing!

Clare

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