As it warms up, most of the nurseries and “big-box stores” are getting huge shipments of plants and flowers to perk up the looks of our homes, inside and out.
Who can resist the masses of flowers and blooms? So we pick out some new shrubs and annuals for flower beds, and then we get a few new, healthy-looking house plants to bring nature inside.
But sometimes, we get a little more nature inside than we wanted.
So we bring in our new house plants, find the perfect spot that meets the needs of the particular plant, and admire it each time we walk by.
It could happen, after a new plant enters our home, that we notice tiny little flying pests. What are they and where did they come from?
There could be a good chance that they entered your home from the new plants.
A Better Homes and Gardens article explains there is a tiny fly called a fungus gnat that can be present in the soil of the plants you purchase. They are attracted to the moist soil and the decaying material present.
Nurseries tend to water a lot and often, so there’s a high risk for these 1/8-inch long flies to be in the soil. They look a little like mosquitoes, but they will not bite, just buzz around your face and be annoying.
If over-moist soil is the culprit, what may help is letting the soil dry out some.
This doesn’t do anything to get rid of the flies already in your home, but what it can do is help stop the life cycle already in progress.
You see, the adult females lay their eggs in the soil. These hatch into larvae that will feed on the fungi in the soil as well as small roots. This can hurt the plant or cause it to look wilted and unhealthy.
Letting the soil dry out some and removing any drained water in the saucer may stop the eggs from hatching to become small, clear to white larvae and any existing larvae to die.
You can always check the soil for the larvae or watch for signs of them leaving the pot. You might even notice a little shiny trail like you would see from a slug outside.
Nothing is a guarantee, so Better Homes and Gardens suggests you may want to leave the new plants outside to dry out some before bringing them in. Just make sure the conditions are right for the plants, such as no direct sun for low-light plants and no high or low temperatures for temperature-sensitive plants.
There are products you can look for if the fungus gnat problem continues.
But drying out the soil some and breaking the life cycle is really your best bet.
Also, when transferring plants inside from outside, such as when the weather gets cooler, the higher the likelihood you may get a fly outbreak.
Check the soil or try letting the soil dry out some for a few days prior to bringing them indoors.
Darla Horner Menking is a certified Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.