Indoor Plant Pests - Knowledgebase Question

Orlando, FL
Avatar for drmacdon
Question by drmacdon
January 13, 1998
How do you control what seem to be small black gnats on houseplants?

Answer from NGA
January 13, 1998
The most common insects that prey on house plants are
aphids, mealybugs, mites and scales. I control these
insects by spraying a fine mist of rubbing alcohol on the plants using a fine-mist atomizer. Try a small section at first then wait a few days, to check for damage to the leaves, before spraying an entire plant. Insecticidal soap is another option. Be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves.

If the insects you see congregate on or near the soil and look like fruit flies, you may have fungus gnats. Sometimes these can be controlled with judicious watering--letting the soil dry out a little more between waterings so that the surface dries. (Don't go so far as to underwater the plants though.) Or you might try a product called "Knock-Out Gnats", available through Gardens Alive (5100 Schenley Pl., Lawrenceburg, IN 47025, ph# 812-537-8650). This is a biological control using a naturally-occuring bacteria specific to this pest. Or you might try yellow sticky traps (also available from Gardens Alive) to trap the gnats.

Often insects are brought in with plants that have been
outside and then are brought back inside. It is a good idea to rinse your plants before they are brought inside after
being outside. Just douse them in a container full of
water large enough to accomodate the plant.

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