Gnats On Succulents
by Succulent MarketApr 26, 2021
If you’re reading this guide, then you probably have gnats on your succulent. Not to worry. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be gnat-free in no time.
What Are Fungus Gnats?
Fungus gnats (sciarid flies) are small flies that love moist environments. They are small, grey in color and have clear, transparent wings.
If you aren’t sure that you have them, then chances are that you don’t. You’ll know that they’re there as they’ll be hovering around the plant, especially if they’re close to water.
What Causes Gnats On Succulents?
The main reasons for gnats on succulents are overwatering and incorrect soil.
Many succulent owners run into overwatering problems. Not only can it cause the plant to rot, but it also attracts gnats.
Succulents are well-known for being low maintenance and not requiring frequent watering. They typically come from dry, arid climates, so they have adapted to store lots of water. As such, they should only be watered when the soil has completely dried out. Watering before it dries can lead to overwatering, attracting gnats and other pests.
Excess moisture in the soil is the perfect breeding ground for mother gnats to lay their eggs. The eggs will hatch within weeks, resulting in a nasty infestation.
This comes back to creating a moist environment. Succulents not only require well-draining soil, but they also need it to be a blend of organic and inorganic matter. If the soil is too dense, it’s going to soak up too much water. This will cause the roots to rot and attract pests like fungus gnats.
Note: make sure that your container has plenty of drainage holes to ensure excess water is drained away. Never let a succulent sit in a pool of water.
How To Get Rid Of Gnats On Succulents
Allow Soil To Dry
Do this before anything else. Gnats are attracted to moisture, so an overwatered succulent is a prime target. Stop watering the plant immediately if the soil feels wet and soggy. Do not water it again until the soil is completely dry. Give it a soak when it’s time to water again. Infrequent heavy watering is the key. A good watering schedule is a good way to prevent gnats on succulents in the first place.
Also known as roundworms and eelworms, nematodes are microscopic parasites that eliminate gnats. It may sound counterproductive to introduce parasites to a plant, but nematodes are actually harmless to houseplants (and humans you’ll be glad to know) and are very effective.
Gnat traps work by attracting the pests with UV light, sucking them in with a fan and then trapping them with sticky glue. They tend to be one of the more expensive solutions but they sure do work - even for other bugs you don’t want in your home like mosquitos and flies.
Dish Soap Spray
This is a popular at-home remedy for treating gnats on succulents. It may not be as effective as the traps noted above, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work, particularly if you’re on a budget.
Combine one tablespoon of dish soap with a quart of water to create a two percent solution. Pour into a spray bottle and apply to a single leaf or stem of your succulent before applying to the entire plant. This is to ensure no long-lasting damage is done (and any damage that is done is kept to a small portion of the plant).
Cinnamon is another natural way to kill gnats. This is because it destroys the fungus that the gnats’ larvae feed on.
It’s very easy to use. Simply sprinkle the cinnamon onto the soil so it covers the top layer. All that’s left is to wait for the problem to subside.
The final natural way to get rid of gnats on succulents is to use grade diatomaceous earth. This is because it contains silica that kills any insect which flies through them.
There are a couple of ways to make use of grade diatomaceous earth; either sprinkle the dust atop of the soil, or combine it into the potting mix.
Make sure you wear a mask if you decide to go down this route.