Aphids & nat like flies - Knowledgebase Question

Sacramento, Ca
Question by bburghardt82
March 6, 2010
I have been recently having issues with aphids and nat like flies hang around my soil of plants I have in planter boxes on my covered patio. I have tried some soapy spray from the local nursery, but haven't had any luck. What would be a good long term solution? I do have a bug zapper ready to use once the weather warms and have read preying mantis love to eat these creatures. Thoughts?! Thanks!

Answer from NGA
March 6, 2010


Could be that you are dealing with fungus gnats. These little pests feed and breed in moist organic matter, such as potting soil and compost. If you can break the cycle, with a soil drench (either insecticidal soap or Gnatrol) it will take care of the current population, but since your plants are outdoors, you're likely to encounter the pests again and again as new gnats fly in from the great outdoors. Perhaps a more permanent solution would be to cover the soil surface with a layer of decorative rocks or gravel. This has the potential to keep the pests from accessing the top of the soil. Aphids can be squished with your fingers or washed off with a strong stream of water. Mantids and ladybugs love to feed on aphids but won't be as likely to show up if you use insecticides on your plants so if you want to encourage them to populate your plants, I'd forego the insecticide sprays. In my garden I just wash the aphids off the new growth when I see them and ladybugs eventually show up. There's also a tiny wasp that visits my spray-free garden. It lays eggs on the aphids and the little larvae feed on the aphids which kills them. These aphid mummies are a sure sign that I have a natural balance in my garden. Good luck with your patio garden!

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