Gnats, houseflies, and fruit flies— all these flying insects infest almost every home to some extent. However, they start bothering you when their population exceeds a certain threshold or when they begin to inflict damage to valuables in the house. For instance, I was truly perturbed when gnats had infested my houseplants. This gnat attack on my beloved plants acted as a tipping point where I decided and eventually succeeded in getting rid of them and that too without using harsh chemicals and exterminating products.
So, how to get rid of gnats in houseplants naturally while making sure the infestation doesn’t come back? The first thing you need to do is to be regular with whatever natural treatment you have picked. You can’t get rid of gnats if you carry out extermination and fumigation treatments once in a blue moon. Secondly, be patient with results. You can’t completely get rid of every last larva of gnats overnight.
Here, I will list down all the natural methods that I have researched when my houseplants were under gnats’ attack. I have been using a combination of many of those methods myself to get rid of gnats from my plantation property.
A Quick Guide to Getting Rid of Gnats in Houseplants Naturally
It is important to understand that when you decide to get rid of gnats naturally, you have to work on various fronts to make it work. Natural extermination and repulsion of gnats don’t work like a regular exterminating job where you spray a particular toxin at the site(s) of infestation.
Since getting rid of gnats in houseplants naturally involves various measures, I am going to divide them into different sections for your ease.
Take Care of the Breeding Grounds
This is the first and foremost measure that you need to take for getting rid of gnats using natural methods. You may have noticed or even experienced that despite a thorough professional extermination treatment, the gnat infestation rebounds after a certain time. Mostly this happens when you only target their active colonies and ignore all the relatively invisible breeding grounds.
If you want to make your extermination efforts worthwhile and ensure that the gnat problem in your houseplants doesn’t resurface any time soon, take care of all the potential breeding grounds.
Don’t Leave Ripe Fruits on Kitchen Counter for Long
Like fruit flies, gnats also love ripe fruits. Once the fruits are ripe and start fermenting, their odor becomes an invitation for gnats that are not even at your property. The ethanol releases at the time of fermentation also help adult gnats with hatching.
So, always put fully ripe fruits in the pantry and refrigerator and only take them out when you have to consume/use them. Regarding ripening fruits, you can put them on the counter. But make sure they are enclosed in a paper bag.
Keep Your Kitchen Clean and Dry All the Time
This is the hardest bit among house chores whether you want to get rid of gnats or not. We all love to procrastinate when it comes to taking care of the kitchen. Leaving kitchen clothes damp and pushing dish cleaning to the next day is pretty common.
However, all this dampness and gunk that you leave in the kitchen for more than a couple of hours can help gnats and various other insects to increase their population manifold. A good practice is to make sure that the floors, counters, and other surfaces in the kitchen are wipe-cleaned and dried before you leave it at the end of the day.
Do the dishes as you use them instead of leaving them in the sink overnight. Also, don’t leave the used kitchen clothes lying around. Try to wash them daily or at least dry them in the open and away from the kitchen.
Keep an Eye on Your Pantry and Refrigerator
Many of us are quick to identify ripe and rotten fruit. However, we are not that attentive when it comes to vegetables. Do you know that ripe and rotten potatoes, tomatoes, and even onions can attract gnats the same way as fruits?
Therefore, constantly run a rotten produce check in the pantry and refrigerator. The minor amount of fluids spilling from those fruits and vegetables can accumulate at the back of the pantry. From there, it can end up beneath the refrigerator in the form of a puddle. This puddle can breeds literally hundreds of gnats away from your eyes and many of them will eventually end up in your houseplants as well.
Clean your pantry regularly and don’t forget to discard all the rotten, cracked, cut, and damaged fruits and vegetables from it.
Deal with Compost Carefully
If you use compost in your houseplant and other vegetation beds, you need to practice a lot of diligence in its making. The rotten organic material you are using in compost certainly provides ample nutrition to plants. However, it also provides a perfect breeding grand for gnats and various other flying insects.
Don’t leave compost out in the open. Also, put gnat traps (we will discuss them in a bit) around the compost piles. Refrigerating the organic material before mixing it will also decrease the chances of the gnat infestation in and around the compost.
Lay Out Gnat Traps
When you go on to get rid of gnats naturally, you do that by trapping them instead of direct extermination. You can use a range of traps all made of natural ingredients to trap and get rid of gnats in your houseplants.
A Vinegar Trap
Take a cup or bowl and pour some cider vinegar (red, balsamic, apple) in it. Then, cover the top with a tight plastic wrap. You can also use a rubber band to keep the wrap in place. When the plastic wrap stretches out across the orifice of the cup or bowl, punch small holes in it. This is your vinegar trap.
Now, put those vinegar traps among the houseplants and wherever you have noticed the gnat problem. The gnats will reach the trap due to the aroma of vinegar and crawl inside the jar for never to crawl out.
Keep the jar in place and monitor it once in a while. Keep it at the same place as long as you notice that the number of gnats in the jar continues to increase.
A Soap Trap
It is another form of vinegar trap, a more deadly one. Take a bowl, add cider vinegar and water in it with a couple of drops of dish soap or any other detergent. Then put a plastic wrap on it in the same manner as discussed earlier and put it near and inside your houseplants.
This trap works in two ways. First, the vinegar will attract the gnats towards the trap. Once the gnats will be inside, they will immediately drown in the water mixture because it will have a very weak surface tension— thanks to those few drops of dish soap.
A Carnivorous Plant Trap
If you want to get more natural in getting rid of gnats in houseplants, place or plant a carnivorous plant among them. Those insect-eating plants have sticky leaves that first trap gnats and then guzzle them. For a recurring gnat problem, this natural trap may come in really useful.
Why do you need to get rid of gnats in houseplants in the first place?
Many people consider gnats harmless insects when it comes to plants and shrubs. However, that’s not the case. Gnats can cause some irreversible damages to your houseplants. For instance, gnat larvae munch on delicate root hairs and tiny feeder roots.
Due to this activity of gnat larvae, plants couldn’t absorb sufficient nutrients and water from the soil. This eventually results in stunted plant growth, a higher number of dropping leaves, and more dull and yellow leaves.
How You Can Repel Gnats from houseplants?
If you don’t want to kill or trap gnats and just want them to stay away from your houseplants, you can cultivate some basil leaves around them. Gnats don’t like the strong aroma of basil and stay away from its source. You can also grow lemongrass for the same purpose.
If you don’t want to grow anything besides your houseplants, sprinkle some lavender oil on them time and again. It will also keep the incoming gnats at bay.
Why Does Any Household Develop Gnat Problem?
Besides unhygienic conditions in the kitchen, washroom, and outdoors, any household can also develop a gnat problem due to warm and humid weather. If the latter is the case, you need to remain proactive against the gnat problem all the time.