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gixxerific
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Are these fungus gnats?

I have been plagued by these suckers since last summer they left for a while but now they are back. :evil: :twisted: I have tried several earth friendly things to get rid of them but still they are here.

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fungus gnat control

I think so. Here's a link to a thread about them.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=100145&highlight=fungus+gnats#100145

In this thread I put a link to a picture and Applestar put a link to a different thread with more info and more pictures.

Fungus gnats usually crawl around on the soil and are pretty hard to spot, until the soil is disturbed, then they fly up.

There's lots posted here about fungus gnat control.

Here's one starting place: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=102076&highlight=fungus+gnat+control#102076

Besides the cinnamon, which I think you said you have already tried, and letting your soil dry out between waterings, there's soapy water spray, and soapy water traps, neem oil, DE for the larvae, vacuuming them up, Bt (as in mosquito dunks, also for the larvae, that are in the soil), baking soda. The thread above also posts links to a couple commercial, non-poisonous fungus gnat controls.

Here's a little article about fungus gnat control:

https://www.ghorganics.com/page9.html#Fungus%20Gnats:

it mentions spinosad, which is a commercially available natural insecticide that is a bacterial exudate. It is harmful to honeybees, so you want to be careful with it outdoors, but it would be fine if you are talking about your indoor plants.

It also mentions vinegar as a trap for them and potato slices as a trap for the larvae.

You can get beneficial nemetodes that prey on them:

[url=https://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&productId=100655849&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&ci_sku=100655849&ci_src=14110944&cm_mmc=shopping-_-googlebase-_-D28X-_-100655849]beneficial nematodes[/url]

I've posted before, that last year I had a bad infestation of them, but this year I am keeping chamomile tea and cinnamon stick in the water I wate all my seedlings with and have had zero.

Hope this helps. Let us know what you try and how it works!

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I have success getting rid of the hated fungus gnat using a hydrogen peroxide (3% from the drugstore) solution every time I water.

4 oz H2O2 per gallon of water. If it's really bad, I'll bump it up to 6 oz & then scale back. After a week or so, no more gnats. It's best to keep using it all winter though. If you stop using it, they eventually come back.

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Thanks you girls. I had them all summer than bad in the winter in my basement with my plants under the lights. I finally got rid of them by my seed starting station. But we have big outdoor plant that is inside and I hit it the other day and there was a swarm of them. They are back.

I have used cinnamon, Neem, DE and letting things dry out. Thought about vinegar or maybe a pepper or garlic spray 'bout ready to try napalm. :lol: :x

I will check out those links, now if I can figure out why I have mushrooms growing in my starters.

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I have have also used the vacuum method.

Reading the links makes me wonder. There was talk of a green slime they bring. I have plants that I thought had eggs in it but there are tons of little green jelly like "things" in there. Could be fungus from them, but I have been leaning towards thinking that it is a fungus, even before I read that stuff. I have another pot with something else like that but different color these look more like eggs. Than there is 2 tiny mushrooms in my celery flat. I am using Dr. Earths potting soil and there is all kinds of this and that in there, could be were my fungal property's are coming from. I have some weird stuff going on here. I have a fan on everything now and have been running here and there. Everything looks fine I haven't lost anything yet this seed starting period. But the gnats are coming back

There was someone can't remember his name in one of the links that posted pics, they are the same that he had. I will work this out. Thanks for the help.

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The fan should make a big difference and maybe work harder on the letting things dry out part? The presence of mushrooms as well as the presence of fungus gnats, both suggest that things are staying moist a lot. Does your soil mix have a lot of peat in it?

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RBG is onto something there, my friend. Listen closely...

HG
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Some of it does have a bit of peat in it. But that keeps things dry right? I added worm castings, composted cow manure and a couple bags of left over potting soil to the peat since it was so dry. Those are the ones showing signs of fungus. What I just potted up is straight Dr. Earth potting soil, nothing there yet. I have been very diligent about not watering too much. Yet everything is staying moist but not wet. I have been letting things dry out quite a bit too even to the point that I think I should water, but wait another day. I'm trying hard to be successful, I don't deal with failure well.

Everything is growing pretty well I should say for this being my first time with this many seeds plus the over doing it I did with planting everything under the sun (well lights if you must) just to see what happens.

Thanks RBG for the help. We shall see how this plays out.

What do you think on the fan? 10 minutes a day, twice a day more, less?

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gixxerific wrote:Some of it does have a bit of peat in it. But that keeps things dry right?
Actually, peat tends to retain moisture, as well as increase the acidity a bit.
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And acidity is good for the fungal side...

HMMM?

HG
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not too mention I mainly use my mix for bulk and top off with the Dr. Earth. Which say's it has about 7 different mycorrhizae along with a a few bacterium.
So with all that it should be highly fungal. If I had a miniature tiller I could bring it back to the bacterial side more. :lol:

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Hand held mixer for containers, Hand blender for smaller containers, and Electric toothbrush (with modified replacement toothbrush) ... or perhaps Electric drink/cocktail stirrer for miniature containers :>

Or you can always use a plastic fork: My favorite indoor gardening tool -- I usually keep one in one container at every grouping, which is practically every sunny window in the house right now.... :roll:

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Hey!

No unnecessary tilling!

:mrgreen:

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A bit off my own topic in a way. But I was thinking about this fungus. All of the above holds merit but here is another possibility, I sprayed most everything with AACT a little bit ago. Could that be another fungal boost that has brought this on? Probably but would this have been something else that would have brought on the gnats?

I need to get some pics maybe tomorrow, one of my bigger pots has some weird stuff in it. almost looks like a bunch of pelleted seeds, a bunch.

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Sure. There are algal spores in most soils and composts. Fungus gnats live in conjuction with a greenslime I have always thought was an algae; one always means the other.

Gixx if it is getting bad you might want to think about nematodes; expensive but a good quick fix, and then you have nematodes in your starters which will mean you have them around for a while, maybe the season...

HG
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Fungus gnat traps

I just did the neem oil/soapy water flush on some of the plants... it will take me a bit to get around to all of them. (can't do them all at once because I'm trying to let them dry out a bit) After each one gets the neem oil flush, I'll start the chamomile/cinnamon watering regime.

I did have success with the traps though. i've been using extra essential oils i have around that i don't have any purpose for in the traps.

The first time I made the traps, I used a lemon-scented joy plus carnation essential oil in a small bowl. this only caught 2 gnats... but later i realized that the lemon scent probably repelled them. so i tried again, with regular dawn & lilac... that caught maybe 6. then i tried again with regular dawn & carnation, and that caught 17! so that seems to work. but, it seems like the traps only work for 24-36 hrs. then you have to put out a new trap. It also seems to help if you put the trap under a light.
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Anti-fungal for seedlings?

rainbowgardener wrote:I think so. Here's a link to a thread about them.
Hope this helps. Let us know what you try and how it works!
I have given up trying to do seedlings until I get this gnat problem taken care of. However, for future reference, I was thinking that if I try to germinate seeds again (in plastic pots), can I water the seedlings with the cinnamon/chamomile treatment on a constant basis to keep out fungus while the seeds are germinating? or is there some other anti-fungus treatment you can use on seeds/seedlings to pre-empt the gnat problems? thanks.
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I worry about the fungal supressive nature of a steady regime. Many seedlings are dependent on mycorrhizal fungii for their establishment, and detriment to them is detrimental to the plant. I am NEVER a favor of shotgun prevention unless we are talking about strengthening the biological community to preclude dominance of any particular organism...

Kicking holes in a ecosystem ALWAYS favors pathogens, not the plants...

HG
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Steady regime for regular-size plants?

The Helpful Gardener wrote:I worry about the fungal supressive nature of a steady regime. Many seedlings are dependent on mycorrhizal fungii for their establishment, and detriment to them is detrimental to the plant. I am NEVER a favor of shotgun prevention unless we are talking about strengthening the biological community to preclude dominance of any particular organism...
Kicking holes in a ecosystem ALWAYS favors pathogens, not the plants...
HG
What about for regular plants... should I keep on continually using the cham/cinn treatment for the established plants? (that's what it sounded like the directions were)
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The University of California has a nice article online about fungus gnats and some of their relatives.

https://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7448.html
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:I worry about the fungal supressive nature of a steady regime. Many seedlings are dependent on mycorrhizal fungii for their establishment, and detriment to them is detrimental to the plant. I am NEVER a favor of shotgun prevention unless we are talking about strengthening the biological community to preclude dominance of any particular organism...

Kicking holes in a ecosystem ALWAYS favors pathogens, not the plants...

HG
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Re: Anti-fungal for seedlings?

emerald7 wrote: for future reference, I was thinking that if I try to germinate seeds again (in plastic pots), can I water the seedlings with the cinnamon/chamomile treatment on a constant basis to keep out fungus while the seeds are germinating? or is there some other anti-fungus treatment you can use on seeds/seedlings to pre-empt the gnat problems? thanks.
That is what I am doing. I have been watering my seeds/seedlings with chamomile/cinnamon infused water consistently from the beginning. It has worked great.... zero fungus gnats, zero seedlings lost to damping off. And my seedlings are big and healthy and doing well (I'll post some more pix later).

I am talking about seeds/seedlings growing indoors, under lights, with sterilized Miracle Grow potting soil and no innoculations of microrrhizae. There IS no soil biology to speak of. I wouldn't do this outdoors where I am trying to improve the soil and soil biology, but growing things indoors in potting soil is a totally artificial environment any way.
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growing things indoors in potting soil is a totally artificial environment any way.
I'm not sure I agree with this... diversity can always stand to be increased. Predator mites, nematodes, predator gnats, etc... would be great to have around in the house, no?

I know it sounds crazy, but even cinnamon and chamomile are pesticides, and I like to apply IPM rules to those as well.
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I'm with toil; as little as possible for as short as possible and then back to nature. If everyone looks good then good biology should take care of it; bacteria balances fungi, nematodes eat larvae and nobody gets sick. Having mycorrhizae around is too good a thing to pass up... I'm no fan of sterility as it is nearly impossible to asssure, and bad guys are always the first players on an empty field...

I say heal them, then get them on their biological feet... RBG has another system that is working, and you can do what you like, but I am a fan of less-is-more gardening...

HG
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This is interesting.... This year, due to the heavy snowfall and extended snowcover, I had to start my early seeds in store-bought potting and seedling mixes. Pretty soon my seed flats exploded with fungus gnats. I tried the cinnamon, then added chamomile to the watering regimen with no avail. (Too late, probably)

Then I was thinking back on last year's seedlings and thinking that I had far less fungus gnat problems. Yes I had some, but they were just not as numerous. ...then it hit me... Last year's soil mix was my own compost-based, with Under the Woodpile soil and playsand mixed with decomposing bits of wood. Lots and lots of soil life activity.

Now that I have access to my compost, I've been easing off on the cinnamon/chamomile, sticking with rainwater to water with, though last year, I was strictly filtered water. The store-bought mixes are being watered with AACT, as well as water dripping out of newly potted containers. The other day, I happily popped a centipede in one of the gnat-infested containers. I also tossed a spider in among the seedlings.

Still highest concentration of fungus gnats in what's left of store-bought potting mix planted containers. New uppots and newly planted seed flats are fungus gnat-free. Go figure.

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Come on guys, you are going all purist on me. I really don't get it. You've been reading my posts for a year. You know my (outdoor) garden is the ultimate in less is more, no chemicals, no fertilizers except compost and compost extract, year round mulch, companion planting, wildlife habitat, native plants...

I'm sorry, but to me starting seeds indoors under lights is different. No I don't want nematodes or centipedes or earthworms or anything else in there. The little plants are in plastic pots, in potting soil with Miracle Grow, that has been sterilized. There IS no food web there. I grow healthy happy seedlings there and I refuse to apologize for it. And my cinnamon and chamomile which are natural products the same as compost or anything else are doing what they were designed to do. As soon as the seedlings go outside they will be put into good organic soil full of biology. Nothing I am doing now will interfere with that. It's not like they are poisoned and are going to spread poison in my garden when then go out.
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Not saying it's wrong, rainbowgardener. :wink: But you know *me* and my pets. :lol:
C'mon, how about just one little Wormy-worm? :()
I found two finger-length worms under the garage door weather stripping when I opened it today, so I happily gave them a new home in my CCBbox flats containing the mesclun and salad mixes.
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My friend Lisa saved a whole crop of rhodies with earthworms in the pots; they got overwatered and got the phytophtera. She put a worms in each pot and swears it was the worms that saved them...

RBG, I like the chamomile/cinnamon a lot, even told other folks about it, but I don't like ANY pesticide forever. Healthy soil is healthy soil; AS's examples are exactly what I'm talkking about. I just think the best answer to unbalanced biology is to balance it as soon as possible, and let it get on with the job.

HG
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Not forever, just until they go outdoors, which is a month or so now...

I have no idea if I still "need" the chamomile/ cinnamon, i.e would the fungus gnats show up now if I quit using it. But I'm about to start on my 3rd 55 qt bag of potting soil. That's not a good time to test it out. The soil is packed moist in the bag and for all I know comes with fungus gnat eggs in it. Once the bag's been sitting open for awhile it dries out a bit, that would be a better time to test it.

But my basement grow station doesn't have much air circulation and I never did get it together to put a fan down there. (When I'm watering/ tending the seedlings I blow on them and "pet" them but I doubt that counts for a lot).

So peat heavy commercial potting soil, no air circulation.....
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Aw cmon rainbow it's just disagreement.

I suggest a test using your compost on just a small portion of your starts. Or even your regular mix plus compost slurry or tea. I love my worm castings for that, as the cocoons hatch eventually. Wigglers, btw will turn things around in the pot, and they love it there.

Maybe you will find something you like...

Oh, food grade DE is great, and I imagine a great source of silica for cucurbits.
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Hey I understand RBG's reluctance, and given AS's poor start with the commercial mix it is not entirely unfounded. It's working for now, and if it ain't broke...

I just wonder how long before eventually it might break; a lack of good mycorrhizae means a crop of seedlings doesn't establish well and gets hit with something, or some fungus gnat or fungus develops the resistant gene... these are the usual ends to prophylactic treatments, which is why I'm not a fan...

It could be we are all way off base and RBG has the ultimate cure, with no real downside. But lacking sufficient scientific testing (I'd say comparative slide counts for flagellates, cilliates, amoeba, and fungal spores ought to do), I would err to the side of natural soil, despite the noted lack of natural surroundings...

And nematodes would allow for all of the above; natural soil with fungi and flagellates and everything... and no gnats...

HG
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I tried one year making my own potting mix from garden soil, compost, peat moss, perlite, etc. The first time I tried, I didn't sterilize the dirt and compost. As soon as it warmed up (I start seeds early, so what I brought in from outside was kind of frozen), all kinds of creepy crawlies came pouring out of it. They are fine in my compost pile; NOT in my house. AppleStar is much more highly evolved about this; I am not there yet. I freaked and threw everything back in the compost pile (at least I didn't kill anything!)

After that I sterilized soil/compost by baking it in the oven, but that is not energy efficient and is very stinky. I was spending more buying all the ingredients separately than it costs to buy the potting soil in bulk and it was stinky and messy and I gave up on it. No more compost in the house!

Sorry, but I'm happy with what I'm doing, it works for me. Once everyone catches up to me with how "pure" my whole outdoor garden is (by everyone, I mean the general public; I know AS and some others are ahead of me) we can talk about the fact that my seed starting operation is not run just the way permaculturists would like to see it.
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Don't be sorry, RBG. There are a million others out there who wouldn't be good with the creepy crawlies...

The other day, DW finds a millipede on the bedroom floor, tracks it back to her fern I whacked back and repotted last year with lots of compost. She finds a hatch out in the surface soil and freaks, then wants to know why I am beaming about this. I tell her higher level predators are a sign of a healthy ecosystem and all is well in her ferns soil...

Let's just say she was not as happy as I was about that fact... :roll:

But she is learning to live with it just like she is learning to live with me... :lol:

HG
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I'm not quite ready for the bugs in the house, I already have enough. :lol: Though as you say HG the higher predators would even out the mix. I should have grabbed the fast moving millipede I saw the other weekend.

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I don't keep millipedes in the house! I simply can't support them without constant feeding, given the space I have.

My diversity is not great inside, and my most significant predator is the worm. But I appreciate my soil mites, tiny gnats, nematodes, and others.
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I appreciate all that stuff outdoors, not IN. But my seedlings are doing just fine without them. Posted some pics here:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12209&start=90

and here:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21904&start=90
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Well I don't think anyone said your seedlings can't do fine that way.

Gotta say though, that likewise, I observed an improvement. Different settings for sure.

But I'm curious to know if you might not be persuaded to say it's probably better to have appropriate biodiversity in general (inside or out) and that it's a hedge against mistakes and invasion.

What say ye?
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Update on gnat/mold situation

I've been working on eradicating the too-wet soil, mold, mushrooms, and fungus gnat problems in my indoor garden for a couple of weeks now.

First I got rid of the seedling peat pots I had.... those had a combination of mold, mushrooms, and possibly gnat eggs in there.

Then I dried out the soil in all the plants. How my original overwatering issue got started was because I didn't realize that the soil in the root ball of the plants was very different from the soil I put the plants in (the soil mixture I used had better drainage than the soil in the root ball), meaning that even if the surrounding soil was dry, the root ball was still wet in a lot of cases. So... lesson learned on that point.

As I dried them out, I noticed that a few small mushrooms that had sprung up just died off by themselves.

Most of the plants were doing OK in terms of drying out properly, but I had to throw out one plastic planter that just wouldn't dry out, and had mold growing on the dirt (it looked like the plants were dying anyway). I think that got rid of a major place for the gnats to nest. The rest of the plants are in terra cotta pots... and I think I'm going to stick with terra cotta, since it creates much less of a retained-wetness problem.

After I got rid of the plastic planter, I haven't had any more mold problems or mushroom problems, and there hasn't been any visible fungus. Which is good.

I've been carefully monitoring the moisture condition of the root balls of the plants before I water now.

As for the gnats:
I did a soap flush (2 c. water, 1/2 tsp. neem oil, 1/2 tsp. Dr. Bronner's organic castile soap with tea tree oil in it) on all the plants. That seemed to dry things out further.

After that I watered all the plants with the cinnamon/chamomile tea mixture once.

During this time I've been putting fresh floral-scented soapy water traps for the gnats out about every other day. Right now I'm only catching 1 or 2 gnats in 2 days...which is good because it means there aren't many to catch. There are still a few flying around, but it's much reduced.

Also, I got some new light bulbs (10 x 30 watts of 5500K light) and new lamps for them where I can adjust the bulbs to be close to the plants, and the plants have really responded to the new light... they seem to all be improving. There's only one plant left right now that I am not sure if it will live or not... the rest of them are all showing marked improvement.
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New soil

rainbowgardener wrote: I have no idea if I still "need" the chamomile/ cinnamon, i.e would the fungus gnats show up now if I quit using it. But I'm about to start on my 3rd 55 qt bag of potting soil. That's not a good time to test it out. The soil is packed moist in the bag and for all I know comes with fungus gnat eggs in it.
Rainbow gardener has a point...
I will probably continue the cinnamon chamomile until I've been totally gnat-free for a couple of months. But even if I switch to plain water at one point, any time that I add new soil would probably be a good time to do the cinnamon/chamomile for a while, to try to pre-empt problems with that. Or maybe a soap flush. What do you think the procedure should be when new soil is added? (Because yes, there is probably some kind of bug eggs in the soil that can't be avoided)
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