How to get rid of gnats on indoor herbs

How To Get Rid of Gnats on Indoor Herbs – Natural Mom Tips

Are you having trouble getting rid of gnats in your home herb garden? You're not alone. Gnats can be a nuisance in indoor gardening, and unfortunately, determining how to get rid of them without resorting to harsh chemicals is often challenging. Fortunately, organic alternatives work great for controlling these pests naturally! In this blog post, we'll discuss the best ways to banish those pesky little bugs from invading your indoor plants so you don't have to worry about toxic pesticides while still enjoying all the benefits of growing plants indoors. So read on if you want relief from buzzing insects ruining your peaceful atmosphere!

Understanding the Gnat Problem in Indoor Herbs

Having indoor herbs can be a relaxing and enjoyable hobby, but it also comes with problems. Annoyingly, one of those problems is gnats – tiny flying insects that love the soil around houseplants and herbs just as much as we do! If your plants seem to have an influx of these pests, why might they be there? Could your herb garden have become attractive for them? It's worth knowing how to prevent this issue from reoccurring by taking proactive preventive measures before another infestation occurs. The answer lies in understanding what attracts the bugs:

  • Fungus gnat larvae require moist soil or rotting organic matter to feed on, so adults seek out that type of microclimate.
  • Fruit flies (often thought of as gnats, even though they're different) are attracted to extra ripe produce, fermenting fruits and vegetables, drains, garbage disposals, composting piles (or containers), empty used bottles and cans, cleaning rags, and mops

Gnats love damp places near pots – such as countertops and windowsills. If you overwater your plants or leave standing water in a saucer beneath them, this moisture will become the perfect breeding ground for their population increase. What's worse is that female adult fungus gnats can lay up to 300 eggs at once (each), which hatch within 5 days! It means the entire colony of these tiny bugs multiplies into a fungus gnat infestation before you know it.

Ending your fungus gnat problem doesn't have to be a complicated process. All you need are some simple steps and the right approach! 

Gnat Control Techniques for Home Gardening

Controlling gnats in home gardening can sometimes pose a real challenge. Growing herbs indoors can seem almost impossible when those tiny black flies have an uncanny ability to find their way inside and reside in your plants. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce the amount of gnats that make your indoor herb garden their own. With all the outdoor and indoor gardening my family has done over the years, my husband and I have found the best methods to control these tiny flies and protect your beloved plants (and sanity) is by engaging in preventative maintenance.

Stop Overwatering Your Plants

The first step is to adjust your watering habits, giving your plants enough water without giving them too much and allowing some soil to dry between waterings. Have you ever noticed how much faster those annoying critters show up when they sense too much moisture? Their number one attractant is damp soil, so it only makes sense to hit them where it matters most. 

If you're not over-watering, ensure your soil has good drainage so it isn't getting too soggy after watering.

Not only will you stop maintaining an environment conducive to fungus gnat breeding, but you'll also reduce your risk for root rot in your plants.

Adjust Your Soil Composition

Speaking of soil, Often removing and replacing the top 2-3 inches of soil and replacing it with fresh soil is enough to evict these tiny insects.

Changing your plants' top layer of soil composition may help, too. Houseplant potting soils containing large amounts of peat moss (or other peat-based material) can help keep the surface of your soil slightly drier than regular soils, making it less attractive for those pesky critters!

Mind Your Indoor Herbs' Temperatures

Awareness and monitoring temperatures at home are also vital here; gnats adore warm and humid climates. So, anything you do to decrease the temperature where your plants are may help. 

That being said, once you have changed the environment of your indoor herbs to stop attracting fungus gnat adults (and, in turn, not maintain a conducive environment for incubating fungus gnat eggs), it is time to move on to actual remedies to get rid of them. 

Utilizing Natural Remedies for Gnat Infestations

Gnats are a common and annoying household pest that can wreak havoc on your plants. Not only do they damage the foliage, but their presence is also irritating. If you're having trouble with gnat infestations in your home, going for natural remedies could be an effective way to get rid of them for good! Many easy and affordable solutions are available out there – so why not give it a shot?

DIY Natural Pest Repellants With Garlic and Onion

For starters, garlic and onion sprays make great natural repellants against gnats. This method keeps these pesky bugs away from your houseplants while being gentle enough not to harm any other insects or animals around! Have you ever tried using this solution before?

Making garlic and onion spray is a great and simple way to keep gnats away. All you have to do is mix equal parts of both ingredients, strain it through cheesecloth or sieve into a warm water-filled spray bottle, then spray around the affected area. The smell created by this solution will be unpleasant for the pesky creatures, driving them far from where they are not welcomed! For an even more practical approach, add some dish or castile soap with water when removing gnats. It may make all the difference in getting rid of any potential infestations that can cause harm to plants or other objects at home.

Of course this isn't always an ideal option for indoor spaces where you're spending a lot of time, unless you like the garlic and onion smell.

DIY Natural Pest Repellants With Dishsoap

If you're looking for a simple, effective way to get rid of gnats in your home, mixing liquid dish soap with some warm water and applying it gently over an infested plant or soil surface is definitely worth trying. You can also replace the dish soap with liquid castile soap.

The soap will act as a barrier on the surface, preventing any more eggs from being laid there – make sure to do this twice each week until all signs of activity have stopped completely. 

But if that doesn't seem enough, try neem oil.

Neem Oil To Repel Gnats

Natural solutions work, too; one example is neem oil spray on the plant – an extract from fruits/seeds of trees grown mainly in tropical regions like India. Neem Oil has been found to provide significant relief when eradicating those pesky bugs!

When applied to the foliage, neem oil contains insecticidal properties – it can kill both larvae and adult gnats. While it is safe for humans and animals, it should be used sparingly. Too much or leaving it on for long periods could cause discoloration in some plants. 

To use neem oil, mix one teaspoon of neem oil with a quart of water and spray all sides of your plants twice a week until the problem is solved. 

Don't apply directly under direct sunlight, as this might burn leaves or flowers!

Natural Pest Repellants Using Mosquito Dunks

A mosquito dunk containing BTI, the beneficial bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. Israelensis, may be helpful used as a natural repellant for soil gnats. Make sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.

What you'll need:

– Mosquito dunk
– Azadirachtin insecticide (optional)
– Potting mix
– Sand or diatomaceous earth

Soak a mosquito dunk in a gallon of water overnight. Use that water as a continuing drench into the potting soil the next day.

If you decide to use Azadirachtin, a natural pesticide derived from neem oil, follow the product label to prepare the azadirachtin pesticide for use. The recommended rate is about 1 tablespoon of azadirachtin per 1 gallon of water. If you’d rather make less than a gallon of the solution, an approximate equivalent would be 1 teaspoon of concentrate per 5 cups of water. With the azadirachtin mixed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, pour an even amount of the solution across the soil surface to kill any present fungus gnat larvae.

Discard the top 2 inches of soil and replace it with fresh potting mix to avoid any remaining fungus gnat eggs and larvae. Optional: add a 1/2-inch sand or diatomaceous earth layer to prevent new infestations.

Natural Pest Repellant Using Hydrogen Peroxide

​Hydrogen peroxide is my favorite safe and effective way to control fungus gnats and end their life cycle. Hydrogen peroxide kills fungus gnat larvae, eggs, pupae, and adult flies on contact. The solution will foam and fizz when it comes into contact with the growth medium, which is to be expected. The fizzing will stop after a few minutes, and the hydrogen peroxide will decompose into safe oxygen and water molecules. A 4:1 ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part hydrogen peroxide (3%) would be safe for plants and effective for killing off fungus gnat larvae.

The solution can be applied once a week until the gnats are gone.

Why is hydrogen peroxide my favorite? There are many other benefits to using it on your plants.

  • Kills the bacteria responsible for root rot
  • Causes the soil to release extra oxygen that helps plant roots grow
  • Reduces compaction in soils, which can cause roots to smother

Just be careful if you decide to use hydrogen peroxide on your plants. Higher concentrations can burn plants, so purchasing a 3% solution is recommended.

Insect Traps To Protect Indoor Herbs From Gnats

Sometimes, preventative maintenance with your plants isn't enough to completely avoid an invasion from these small pests. When these houseplant pests seem to take over (especially with severe cases), you'll need an extra layer of support: the trap. 

Whether you make a DIY trap or purchase one, they are the fastest and best way to curb an active infestation.

Sticky Traps To Catch Gnats

Sticky traps are my favorite method of catching gnats messing with indoor plants. The yellow sticky cards use pheromone attractants to entice adult gnats who end up stuck on their gluey surface! How genius is that?

The sticky trap's glue coating can capture both adult and pupae fungus gnats (and other bugs), but you'll likely only notice the adult populations. You can also buy stake fungus gnat traps, which look like miniature trees with sticky leaves.

You can pick up pre-made sticky traps in most home stores like Home Depot, Ace, or Lowes or purchase them online on Amazon. My favorite ones are shaped like the sun and butterflies, but there are rectangular ones, too (which are great to make into pinwheels). 

How To Use Sticky Traps

There are a couple of ways to situate the double-sided sticky fly traps: 

You can peel the protective cover off just one side of the trap and set it horizontally on the surface of the soil, with the sticky side up. 

Or (what I usually do) remove both sides of the sticky trap covers and stick the bottom into the plant's soil. 

If you're going for the rectangle or pinwheel options, you may want to stick it to a popsicle stick or something similar and “plant” the stick vertically in the affected pot. 

If you have a lot of indoor plants in the same area, you could hang the larger rectangular traps near the plants.

My husband and I have been using these traps for years, both in our home and camper, and have found that removing the cover from both sides of the sun and butterfly sticky traps and sticking the bottom into the soil catches a LOT of gnats on both surface sides.

If you’re using sticky stakes, simply stick the pointy end into the potting mix until the lowermost sticky loop touches the surface. 

Don't forget to monitor your plants and replace the traps as they fill. 

Homemade Gnat Trap Ideas

You can create your own DIY gnat trap using household items such as clear tape and vegetable oil (dish soap mixed with water also does the trick). Place a few of these around the plant, checking daily for any little gnats that might be trapped. 

Apple Cider Vinegar Gnat Trap

What you'll need:

In a shallow container at least 1/4 inch deep, such as a jar lid, bowl, or dish, pour a mixture of one part water to one part vinegar to which you’ve added a few drops of concentrated dish soap or castile soap. The vinegar will attract adult fungus gnats, while the dish or castile soap will eliminate any that enter the dish.

Set your trap near the afflicted plant.

Replace the traps as needed. 

Understand that apple cider vinegar traps don't affect gnats in their larval stage or the eggs in a houseplant’s soil. Because of that, it's a good idea to discard and replace the top 2 inches of potting mix after noticing a significant decrease in the number of gnats caught in the trap. Doing so will eliminate unseen fungus gnat eggs before they hatch. Then, you can add a 1/2-inch layer of sand or diatomaceous earth to the soil surface for added protection.

Maintenance Tips for a Gnat-Free Indoor Herb Garden

Nobody likes the sight of gnats in their indoor herb garden – let alone the thought that these tiny pests can ruin a perfectly healthy garden! Fortunately, there are specific steps you can take to keep your herbs safe and free from infestation. First, figuring out where they originated; often, gnats will be drawn to over-saturated soil caused by overwatering. So, if you want to get rid of them for good, give plants only a little water or allow their soil to become damp.

If it's too wet, let the area dry off thoroughly before you water correctly from this point on. Also, keep an eye on those compost bins and piles – they can cause gnats if excess moisture is present. Whenever possible, try not to bring in any new plants or materials for your garden, as that could attract some eggs or larvae of a nasty kind! Changing up potting soil often will also help with gnat problems since old dirt tends to be more attractive to them; washing pots between each use should also aid in reducing pest infestations. Placing yellow sticky traps around your herb garden is another way to go – these things are like glue when catching bugs! You'll want to throw away what gets collected after several days have passed by once all the insects get stuck onto them. Lastly, introducing beneficial critters such as ladybugs into the environment may work wonders against fungus gnats (which tend to appear near houseplants). Overall, staying vigilant about keeping everything tidy and neat through regular maintenance duties will do much toward avoiding future infestation issues concerning indoor gardening endeavors!

In conclusion, gnats can be a real nuisance and an even bigger problem when it comes to your plants – they can potentially do some serious damage. To ensure you don't get stuck with nasty infestations, take all the necessary steps: understand which kind of gnat species could become a risk in your garden, try out natural or organic solutions such as sticky traps, and keep up good home gardening practices. All these little everyday efforts will add up over time if we want our indoor herb gardens free from those pesky pests!

How to get rid of gnats on indoor herbs

Author: Nicole Graber

Title: Writer, Editor, Coach

Expertise: Natural Wellness, Healthy Lifestyle, Home Business Strategy, Motherhood

Bio:

Nicole is a writer, healthy lifestyle consultant, and faith-based business strategist at Gracefully Abundant with bylines on MSN and the AP newswire. As a survivor of homelessness and chronic health, she discovered a purpose in guiding people towards a healthier lifestyle and increased income.

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