By BJ Jarvis
Pasco Extension Horticulturist
In the last article, we talked about pantry or drugstore beetles that may get into the house. This time, let’s focus on another common irritating garden critter that can make indoor life miserable.
Fungus gnats, sometimes called fruit flies, are common introductions and are usually found in the kitchen or bathroom, coming in on ornamentals or vegetables. Once indoors, populations can flourish in the house with insects living on the soil and occasionally a past-prime piece of produce.
Let’s discuss how to eradicate these irritants.
If your first thought is bug spray, stop! Generally, pesticides are not recommended, as eliminating favorable conditions better controls these critters.
Start by looking for possible living quarters. Residents with houseplants may find that insects flourish in moist, organic soils. Once indoors they move to other moist houseplants, increasing their population.
The key to control is eliminating breeding locations. Allow overly moist houseplants to dry out more between watering and check saucers for standing water. Also, consider topping rich soils with a shallow layer of sand to discourage future generations.
Other favorable spots can include kitchen and an unused bathroom.
After double-checking the produce bin for fruit that needs to go to the compost pile, look in the drain pan under the refrigerator. It can hold water and organic matter that is appealing.
Finally, move on to the bathroom. An underutilized drain in the guest/pool bath should be used occasionally to avoid creating a favorable habitat.
When small but persistent fliers make indoor life miserable, start eliminating moist breeding grounds to help make your home pest-free.
For more information about this topic, visit the University of Florida’s website, edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig125.
—BJ Jarvis is Director and Horticulturist for Pasco Cooperative Extension, a partnership between the University of Florida, USDA and Pasco County government. Gardening questions can be answered at or by phone at (352) 518-0156.
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