7 home remedies for small flies in the soil
They often appear out of nowhere: little black flies in the soil. They arise suddenly and can become a real nuisance in a very short time. These little flies are fungal gnats and are an annoying problem for home gardeners and flower lovers.
A small infestation of flies does not harm the plants, but if they multiply, the roots can die and start to rot, often resulting in the death of the plant.
But where do the little flies come from in the soil? Often the fungal gnat eggs are already contained in the purchased potting soil and you are thus bringing the pest into the house. Organic substrates and humus substrates are often infested, as they are the ideal breeding ground for midges.
In the wild, fungal midges help break down plant matter on forest floors. As they succeed and reproduce very quickly, they are dangerous for indoor and greenhouse plants. Infested plants are characterized by poor growth and hollow stems. In addition, many small midges fly around plants and especially seedlings, and young plants wilt quickly.
Midges love humidity. To prevent them, it is important to prevent them from laying eggs. You should therefore water your plants a little more sparingly and avoid waterlogging. Water them only when the soil has dried out, and only water particularly thirsty plants through the saucer. If there is water in the saucer, leave it for 20 minutes, then empty it. It can also be helpful to use soilless substrates or to switch your plants to hydroponics.
© Media Partisans
As store-bought soil is often responsible for mosquito infestations, there are a few things to keep in mind when storing it. You should store the potting soil in a cool, dry place and keep the bag closed. Also, cover it with a tarp to contain any existing infestation. To be on the safe side, you can sterilize the purchased soil before using it.
To sterilize the potting soil, you will need an oven. Preheat it to 85 ° C, spread the earth on a baking sheet and place the sheet in the oven for 30 minutes. After that, the substrate can be used without worry. If you don’t have an oven, you can also heat the earth in the microwave for 30 seconds.
© Media Partisans
Effective home remedies
There are many methods that are supposed to help with small insects, but only a few of them are really effective in combating them. Insecticides are not always the best choice, as they can also harm the health of humans and animals. There are a few home remedies you can try before resorting to chemicals:
1. Bird sand
An effective approach against midges is to sprinkle the soil with a layer of bird sand. It should be at least one to two centimeters thick and stay dry. The sand absorbs moisture from the soil and egg laying is prevented because the surface is closed, but can still breathe.
2. Cover with a pantyhose
Another way to prevent flies from laying their eggs in the potting soil is to cover it with a pantyhose. This way the midges can no longer reproduce and slowly die off.
3. Baking powder
Baking powder is very versatile and can also be used to control fungal midges. Sprinkle some on the potting soil and then spray a little water on it. The baking powder is now taken up by the soil and is consumed by the larvae, to whom it is toxic. Depending on the severity of the infestation, the treatment may take a little longer and may need to be repeated several times. But it is gentle on the plant and very inexpensive.
© Media Partisans
Vinegar is also an effective home remedy for fungal midges. Place a bowl of equal amounts of vinegar, water, and washing-up liquid next to plants infested with gnats. The insects are attracted to the smell of vinegar and eventually drown, because the washing-up liquid dissolves the surface tension of the water.
Herbs such as parsley and chives are effective in getting rid of midges. The essential oils they contain repel midges and thus prevent them from laying eggs in the soil. To do this, chop the parsley into small pieces and spread them over the potting soil or place pots of fresh chives between the infested plants. As the parsley eventually dries up and loses its flavor, do not hesitate to repeat the operation over and over again.
© Media Partisans
6. Neem oil
Neem oil is extracted from neem seeds and acts as a kind of natural poison on the larvae of the fungal midge. The azadirachtin it contains influences the hormonal balance of the larvae, so that the formation of chitin is disturbed. Mix the oil with the water in a ratio of 1: 100 and add a little washing powder. Then moisten the soil of infested plants with this mixture.
7. Beneficial insects
If your plants are suffering from a very heavy infestation of midges, nematodes are usually the last biological solution. These are beneficial insects that eat the eggs of the fungal midge. They are harmless to the plant as well as to humans and animals. Nematodes (Steinernema feltiae) or bacteria (Bacillus thuringienses) are particularly suitable because they reproduce immediately and offer good long-term protection of the soil.
The less suitable home remedies are matches, garlic, cinnamon or coffee grounds, as their effect is often too weak or they even worsen the problem, as they cause the potting soil to compact and start to mold. . Tea tree essential oil should also not be used as it damages the roots of plants that have already been sufficiently affected by the infestation.
Those who cannot control the infestation despite home remedies can of course resort to chemicals or conventional insect traps. The midges stick to it and eventually die. So they can no longer lay eggs in the potting soil and your plants can recover. If you use chemicals, however, make sure that the plants are not within the reach of your pets and children to avoid damaging their health.
Here you can find more tips for sick houseplants:
Cover images: © Media Partisans ©pinterest / georgeweigel