Containers forum: Bugs. Grrrr!

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Name: Eric
North Georgia, USA (Zone 7b)
Region: Georgia Garden Ideas: Level 1
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CommonCents
Dec 19, 2016 10:25 AM CST
Two of my herb pots have little flying bugs in them.

I thought they were fungus gnats. I've been using Hydrogen Peroxide in the water for the past 3 times I've watered (about twice a week), which is supposed to control the grubs. I put a pretty heavy dusting of cinnamon powder on top of the potting mix, again to control both grubs and fungus, and I've been using some sticky traps (Vaseline on index cards) to catch the mature, flying bugs.

Whenever I take the traps away, a day later, I end up with a bunch of crawling, little winged bugs in the potting mix.

I should also mention that various "organic" insecticides which are mainly oils for the active ingredients (one here is rosemary oil, sesame oil, peppermint oil, thyme oil, cinnamon oil and garlic oil) have been ineffective. The little bugs seem to love that stuff.

I don't want to use anything overly toxic to humans. These containers are my winter rosemary plant, and one of my winter basil plants. The plants do seem to be stressed, with some signs of root damage, including yellowing leaves and dropping foliage.

What do I need to do to get rid of these little black winged bugs?
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Feb 2, 2017 6:09 PM CST

Moderator

Hi Eric.
I would take them out to the garage, empty the pots of all soil and wash them. Add new soil, trim any damaged roots on the plants and replant them. Water and let drain well. Don't water again until the top inch or so of the soil is dry.
You can even take cuttings from the basil and put them in a glass of water and they will root and start new plants.
Name: Eric
North Georgia, USA (Zone 7b)
Region: Georgia Garden Ideas: Level 1
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CommonCents
Apr 5, 2017 11:07 AM CST
Just an update.

I finally gave up on the pots that had the bugs. I started some new basil, and a new pot of rosemary.

It looks like one (or more) of the bags of potting mix I got on closeout at the end of last season had "bonus bugs" in the mix. I'm pretty sure these are fungus gnats/soil gnats.

I had the same issue with my replacement plants in fresh mix (from the same bag).

I was able to resolve this with a mix of one part neem oil, one part hydrogen peroxide (3% solution from the dollar tree store), and three parts water. That's what I used about weekly when I watered the new plants. After a few weeks, there were no traces of the bugs, and I was able to go back to just water. I have still been using water/hydrogen peroxide every other time I water, but once the bugs were gone, I dropped the neem oil.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Apr 5, 2017 4:52 PM CST

Moderator

Great work Eric. That had to be frustrating to say the least.

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