The Q&A Archives: Small Flies on Potting Soil

Question: I noticed in the tomatoe plant container on the dirt is something that looks like a fruit fly. Very small and seems to be just on the dirt. How do I proceed with transplanting the plant into a container? Do I need to treat first and with what????

Answer: What you describe sound like fungus gnats. Fungus gnats feed and breed in decaying organic matter so the potting soil provides an almost perfect environment for them. One of the easiest ways to control them is to place a barrier between moist potting soil and the little pests. You can simply cover the soil with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or cover the top of the soil with pea gravel or decorative rock such as those used in aquariums. Whatever you use, make sure there are no tiny entrance holes for the gnats - they're sure to find them. There's nothing you need to treat the soil with to get rid of the pests. Just transplant your tomato plant into a new container and once you've finished, water it well and cover the top of the soil for a week or 10 days, just to make sure no gnats access the potting soil and lay eggs for a new generation. Good luck with your tomato plant!

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