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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - July 09, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Fungus gnats on indoor plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in Austin and I work in an office where we like to have plants. Recently we started to get these annoying tiny, little nits, how can we get rid of them without harming my plants. Help they are all over!

ANSWER:

If by nits you mean gnats, you are probably suffering from the bane of all indoor gardeners-high humidity, with the unfortunate side effect of fungus gnats! With all the rain we have had in Central Texas this year, even the outdoor plants, not to mention the people, are beginning to get a little moldy. The gnats are a very small fly who choose places where mold and mildew is growing, like potting soil, to lay their eggs. Indoor plants are at the mercy of the environment people want to live in, and when mildew gets going in the potting soil, the pesky little gnats appear. To control the gnats, you must control the indoor growing conditions, or try to get rid of the mildew. Small sticky sheets are made to catch the flying gnats. They won't get rid of all of them, but at least it will help you see the extent of the problem. Also, misting the plant with a very weak solution of an insecticidal soap might discourage freshly hatched gnats. And you might check to see if the plants are being watered too much. You know how it is, everyone who passes by feels like the plants might need a little drinkie. And the little gnats will thank you for improving their living conditions.

 

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