Is your beloved indoor plant being plagued by pesky gnats? They seem to arrive from the Land of Nowhere and quickly set up residence with their large family nesting comfortably in your favorite houseplant. “They weren’t there yesterday” you say, shaking your head in confusion.
Why gnats like your houseplants
The gnat, a flying insect hailing from the Nematocerans family, can feed on various plants with some species even being carnivorous. The pests that plague your home is known as the fungus gnat and thrives in moist conditions. When you see them happily hovering over your plant chances are the soil is saturated or there may be water lingering in the saucer. As the soil continues to remain moist, the gnats feed from the fungus maturing in the wet soil. The good news is the little pest is primarily harmless to houseplants, but they are still quite an irritant.
Since gnats are attracted to damp spaces, a saturated houseplant makes a happy home. The simple solution to get rid of them is to allow the soil to dry out. Unfortunately, if the soil is saturated, this is not an overnight solution. Over time, as the soil dries out the gnats will diminish. In the meantime, I have used all purpose vinegar to speed the process. Simply take a clean can (like a cat food or tuna can) and fill it half full with apple cider vinegar. Then place the can in close proximity to your plant and enjoy the demise of the insect. The gnats are attracted to the cider and drown in the liquid. I originally tried this method by covering the can with plastic wrap and then poking small holes in the wrap (so the gnats can get in but not out) but I realized I could save myself a step since the method is just as effective without the wrap.
If you decide that waiting for the family to vacate is not a rapid alternative, lightly mist your plant with a solution of neem oil and water for an organic and pesticide free solution. You can also place the foliage plant outdoors provided temperatures are suitable for your plant. During summer months placing your plant in a shaded environment may be the best solution while during winter months an outdoor solution may only be feasible in warmer climates. A third option is to hang fly trap sticky strips in proximity of your plant (remember the goal is still to allow the plant to dry out). Regardless of which option you choose, with these solutions, the gnats will leave your houseplant and migrate to moisture conditions.