A Gnatty Situation: How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats in House Plants

Having indoor plants offers a plethora of benefits. One of them is to add visual interest to any space (thanks Pinterest for the flood of ideas). They also purify the air inside the home. Ah, it's nice to breathe clean air!

They help create a space conducive to well-being, reducing stress. And increase humidity levels, which improves respiratory health and prevents dry skin. Wait, do we still need humidifiers inside?

Great, right? 

But it's also worth noting they require care and maintenance. When you buy house plants, they come with an instruction tag. For novices like me who are too lazy to do anything, these help us keep the plants alive for a long time. Okay, I'll be honest. I don't actually follow what's written in there. But perhaps, I should have. 

In there, it is written to dry out the soil in between waterings. There is a reason for that. Scroll down to find out...

A Gnatty Situation: How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats in House Plants

A few weeks after becoming a plant mom, I found out that moist soil is a gnat favorite. These conditions are conducive to fungus growth, which is their food. And when food is abundant, the population explodes.

Here's an excerpt from this website,
Adults live about 1 week, during which time each female deposits 100 to 150 eggs. They are laid in strings of 3 to 40 in the top of the soil, usually near stems of plants. They hatch within 4 days. ~ source here.


Given that information, will you still choose to become a plant parent?

Me? I'm not giving up just yet. I can't let my babies go out there in the Texas heat. They might not survive the elements.

Here's what we've tried so far...

1. Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water. Nope, that didn't work.
2. Dishwashing liquid soap + vinegar + water. No visible results either.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar jar trap. Promising but not sufficient.

After a few trials and errors, here's what works...

How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats in House Plants

The hubby and I found a 3-way solution to control the gnat problem. Kill the root and the fruit at the same time, that is, eliminate both the larvae and adults.


1. Swat them with this bug zapper. It takes them down at first contact. And oh, it feels so good doing so. It feels like you've reached the Mt. Everest summit. (lol) Okay, I'm just overreacting! 

Smaller gnats take only one zap to die, but adults are only immobilized for a few minutes. You still need to find them and finish the job.

Oh, this product also works for all kinds of insects too. Again, the larger the insect the greater the number of smacks.

2. Mosquito bits. This addresses the gnat larvae. To apply, follow the instructions in the bag. 

I do it differently though. First, I soak the granules in the watering can for a minimum of 30 minutes. It's the same thing you do when you soak tea in hot water. The amount of water I fill into the can depends on how much I need for that day. Also, adding more mosquito bits to the water than what is required makes it more potent.

Next, skim the granules before watering. It is not necessary to keep them because once it is soaked the active ingredient (BTI) is already released to the water. Don't let the bits sit on the soil because it molds.

Lastly, water the plants as usual. I use a plastic spoon to water mine. Yes, it's a slow method but this way I'm confident every square millimeter of the soil is covered. Make sure to surround the stem of the plant with water because that's where the eggs are laid. 

Why do mosquito bits work?

Inside each mosquito bit granule is a bacteria called "Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis". BTI is a naturally occurring bacterium found in soils. This means... this product is organic not chemically made. 

From what I understand, BTI contains spores that produce toxins. When it attaches to the larvae, it causes the soft tissues to rupture, spill their contents, and kill them. 

It is also important to note, that it only affects the larvae making it safe for the plants.

Here's another way to do it. Click this video here. I prefer this one over the others because the content creator gets straight to the point.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar trap. Cover the top with a saran wrap. Secure it with an elastic band. And then poke small holes so the gnats could enter.

Because these small insects like to fly around the perimeter of the jar trap, it's easy to find and swat them with the bug zapper. ;)


Ah yes, the gnats are under control. And I get to keep my plant babies and enjoy the benefits of having them indoors.

If a gnat happens to fly by my face, I'll simply have to zap 'em.

Will you try out this method?