How to Get Rid of Gnats in Houseplants? (5 Easy Tricks)

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Are you frequently bothered by little insects flying around your plants?

These are called gnats and they love moisture, so this article will show you how to remove them with natural substances and also give you the knowledge to prevent them from coming back.

How do I get rid of gnats on my potted plants?

Here are 5 suggestions to help you clear your plants of these troublesome insects, easily and naturally.

  • Citronella spray
  • Mint spray
  • Oil mixed with soap and red wine
  • Soap and apple vinegar mixture
  • Sticky traps, where gnats get stuck

Gnats hate certain smells so make a spray with water and 6 drops of citronella, vanilla, or mint essence mixed in, and then spray this on your plant. Leaves won’t mind it, but the gnats hate the smell. The oil and soap mixtures make the insects stick; the insects can then be removed later with a damp cloth. Likewise with a sticky trap.

This group of insects includes fruit flies, fungus gnats, and drain flies. Read on to find out what attracts them to your plants so that you can avoid having them indoors.

How can I make my own oils, sprays, and traps for gnats?

spraying houseplants

Recycle a small cosmetics container to make a spray that gnats will not like. Fill the container with water and then add 6 drops of citronella or mint.

Both of these are extremely strong smells, hated by mosquitoes and gnats alike. To make the oil and soap mixtures, put 2 tablespoons of oil into a container, add some liquid dish soap and shake. The oil makes it difficult for insects to land on the leaf in the first place. The soap will make the leaf unpalatable.

You can wipe leaves with cotton balls soaked in this mixture. Gnats love fruit smells, so if you also add fruit vinegar such as apple vinegar, the fruit flies will believe it is party time and come to investigate! They stick to the oil and cannot escape.

After the first application, wipe the treated leaves down and remove any insects. Then re-apply frequently until all the gnats have left.

Another method is to buy yellow, sticky traps to catch insects from your hardware store. These use biocides to destroy the gnats. Yellow is a good color to attract these pests because the gnats believe the color indicates a plant that is below par, health-wise.

If you would rather not use chemicals, then make your own traps. You will need old fruit cartons, which you open up and cut into 10 cm strips. If they have yellow or orange on the front, so much the better. Unwashed, this fruit smell will often be enough to attract insects but with a layer of honey added, the gnats and lurking aphids should stick.

You can also coat these strips with lard. However, this option may prove very smelly for some, proving that some dedication is required to catch all these insects so it may be better to prevent them in the first place.

How can I prevent gnats in the first place?

Prevention is better than cure, as they say. Since gnats like moisture, you need to ensure they cannot access any, wherever your plants are located.

First, remove any pots of standing water; if you have a watering can ensure that you keep it empty next to your plants. Next, check and fix leaking taps. If there is no moisture, the gnats will not survive. Pour some bleach regularly down sinkholes and bath plug holes, to keep drain flies at bay.

Finally, use strong-smelling soaps and cosmetics in areas where you have water flowing, that have the flavor these insects hate the most.

Citronella, lavender, and mint are excellent choices and make your bathroom smell wonderful as well. Some gardeners swear by a basket of potpourri, which includes vanilla and cinnamon sticks to discourage flying insects.

FAQs

What causes gnats to live on indoor plants?

The first cause is usually the availability of moisture so check for dampness in your bathroom or kitchen. Over-ripe fruit in bowls in your kitchen is another way to attract these little insects into your home, so try to store very ripe fruit (such as bananas) in covered containers or in the fridge.

If you have open drains outside your back door, gnats might be congregating there. If you find some, try to attract them further away by putting a small bowl of water so that you can then deal with the drain.

Now add bleach to the drain and re-apply regularly to those areas, to keep them clean and protected.

A final way for gnats to arrive on your indoor plant might be that there were gnats on an outdoor garden plant, which you have returned indoors to protect during the winter.

Gnats thrive in moist, damp soil so make a thorough inspection of any plants coming indoors, before you let them in. You can also check the drainage in pots coming back in and water them less frequently for a while to encourage the soil to dry out slightly. If required, change the soil and repot the plant.

Once inside your house, gnats will find any houseplants close to the one they have chosen. So, move other plants well away and then treat the gnats with sprays, oils, and sticky traps.

What is the fastest way to get rid of gnats?

Make it unpleasant for them! Spray them directly with a homemade mixture. This can be 6 drops of citronella oil in a spray filled with water or mint or lavender.

Gnats loathe all of these! If there is any water they can access lying around, remove this immediately. Leaking taps lure them in. Pour bleach down any drains or bathroom plugholes, as they will not tolerate this. Yellow, sticky pads, purchased or homemade, will attract them quickly.

Do gnats come out at night?

Gnats are not nocturnal, so they only pester humans during the day, attracted by fruit smells and moisture in the eyes. Flying insects near eyes are usually gnats, searching for the moisture from tears. So if it is a flying nighttime insect, it could be a mosquito. Citronella spray works for these as well.

Final Tips

Remember that gnats cannot fly very well. This is good news for you because they won’t be able to transfer from plant to plant. Or from room to room very easily. As soon as you remove them from your plant, use these tips to prevent them in the future.

Do not leave any rotting fruit or food lying around. Gnats are attracted to this. Make sure they cannot find moisture – fix leaking taps, use bleach liberally to clear drains and sinkholes.

Repot the whole plant outside if the gnats refuse to leave. Ensure the drainage is good this time so there is little moisture for them to feed on. If you have a strong stomach or an interest in wildlife, leave a cut potato for them to feast upon.

They will lay eggs that hatch into larvae, which are easily spotted by our eyes. Remove as soon as you see any movement. When the potato has wriggling larvae, you can remove this and break the life cycle of the insects.

Mike Smith

I love Gardening and this is my site. Here you will find some really useful plant-related tips and tricks.