Tired of the flies in soil

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by pinkygreen, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. pinkygreen

    pinkygreen Member

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    I have never had a problem with houseplants ever, until last year. That's when I started to notice these pesky flea-like creatures zooming around my head. I noticed the leaves from my plants were turning yellow and falling off in great numbers. I checked it out, and noticed some webbing so I did everything I could to save them. I put them in the shower and sprayed the leaves, I submerged the soil in water in hopes to drown any eggs, and I added dish detergent dilluted in water. Finally, I decided to repot everything. Shoo! Sorry, one is flying in front of my screen now! Okay so I remove old soil, wash the roots carefully, wash all the pots and added new potting soil (and not the cheap stuff). Ah... just when I thought it was all over, they're back! Bewildered because I thought I took care of the problem, I checked each plant by shifting the soil around. And lo and behold, there they are hiding in the soil of one of my plants that I've had since it was a baby and is now about 8 ft high. I declared war and put a shallow dish of apple cider vinegar and put a sticky tape all around the soil to trap them. A couple of days later there were a lot of casualties in the apple cider vinegar; they love it. However, it has not solved the problem. In another post someone said to pour boiling water in the drains. I think they are on to something because I have seen a few hanging around the bathroom. I noticed something else too. A couple of years ago, I hung a fly trap in the basement because I thought I had a fly problem. I didn't but what I did see a year later was that this sticky tape was covered with those little fleas. It looks like they were/are in the basement. Are they coming from the sewer? Drains? How can I get rid of them for good before I have to get rid of my beautiful plant. I don't want to lose this war but I am getting weary!
     
  2. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm guessing on of the pests you're dealing with is fungus gnat and not fruit fly. The latter is bigger, reddish, and much quicker. They're the ones that are particularly attracted to apple cider. The other pest you have or had is spider mite as evidenced by the webbing. Insecticidal soap with take care of the mites but you have to follow the instructions for repeated application and be persistent. Fungus gnats thrive in wet soil conditions so allowing the soil to dry out somewhat before watering will help. They can also be trapped with dishes of water with a few drops of dish washing liquid added to it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  3. pinkygreen

    pinkygreen Member

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    Thanks Junglekeeper. I will give it another try, but I still can't figure out how they came back, considering I did change the soil.
     
  4. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Unless you washed to roots clean of soil before repotting there'll be some survivors nevermind the ones still in the air. Given the right conditions they'll just multiply and carry on as before. Prevention by following a proper watering regimen is probably the best approach to controlling fungus gnats. Good luck.
     
  5. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    Fungus gnats live on moist, decomposing organic matter, or at least their larvae do. They thrive in drains and in the organic composts that plants usually are potted in. I do not have much problems with them anymore since I have removed organic components (especially peat) almost completely from my growing media. I grow only cacti, and fungus gnats is a big threat to cactus seedlings (the larvae enter them and devour them from the inside), so I know how dangerous they can be :(. Otherwise they are difficult to get rid of except with systemic insecticides.
     
  6. pinkygreen

    pinkygreen Member

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    Thanks mandarin. Since I posted this problem, I found an aerosol spray that I forgot I had. As the old saying goes: "Out of sight, out of mind". It is used to spray plants and soil that is infested with these lil' pests. Hopefully, they won't "bug" me anymore lol. Also I found an excellent web-site that is very informative from the University of Saskatchewan, which is in Canada. It is a very good read and I highly recommend it: http://gardenline.usask.ca/pests/gnat.html
     
  7. GeneBoyy

    GeneBoyy Member

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    Watering with tea-water (from leftover teabags) helps. Also spraying with diluted Dettol or Nizoral shampoo is helpful
     
  8. Furballs

    Furballs Active Member

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    I've had really good success using horticultural oil to water infested pots. I mean the newer kind of oil, labelled for use on green growing plants, NOT dormant oil. Green Earth brand is the one I usually find, I mix it according to directions, 10 ml/litre, and you must shake it constantly, it separates very fast, but a thorough watering with this has completely eliminated gnats from the treated pots, until a new infestation came in with a new plant. Now I water every new plant this way, as well as treat for other potential pests. Results have been consistently good since I first tried it, about two years ago. I would be cautious about using it on succulents or ferns, or anything known to be sensitive, but so far, have had no adverse effects on any of my plants in those general categories or any other. I grow a bit of everything, tropicals,ferns, cacti & various other succulents.
     
  9. GeneBoyy

    GeneBoyy Member

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    save those mugs!

    I get a lot of free coffee mugs. What to do with the old ones? I use them as pots for rootings, cuttings, and gifts. They also are great for growing herbs indoors on window sills in the winter.
     
  10. stath155

    stath155 Member

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    Hi,
    I have the same problems, whenever fungus gnats appear I crush and sprinkle a little bit of Mosquito Dunks on the soil. They are Bacillus thuringiensis v. israelensis. Take a look at this webpage http://www.ghorganics.com/MosquitoDunks.html. This is safe to use indoors.

    For the spider mites (the fine webbing on leaves) and scale, I've used Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub, make sure the active ingredient is "Imidacloprid" according to wikipedia it is a "nicotine-based, systemic insecticide, which acts as a neurotoxin and belongs to a class of chemicals called the neonicotinoids". USE OUTDOORS ONLY. Take the plants outdoors, put half teaspoon or less, mix with 1 cup or 2 of water in a spray bottle and spray upper and lower leaf surfaces. Let the plants dry off completely for a few hours before bringing plants indoors. DO not use around pets, children, people or indoors. This is a strong poison. Buy the smallest container available as it is a systemic poison it will last a long time on indoor plants. Try to use as little as possible. I got the idea to use this from the bambooweb.info forum where the guys there use it for bamboo mites.
     
  11. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    stath155: Did the treatment with "Tree and Shrub" help?
    As the Wikipedia also says, imidacloprid is an insecticide. Spider mites are mites, not insects, and imidacloprid has little effect on them.
    Bayer do sell some products with both imidacloprid and methiocarb, which is a miticide (it kills mites). I know that some people have wrongly assumed that it is the imidacloprid that kills the mites, and therefore believe that all products with imidacloprid are effective against mites. I don't know if methiocarb is present in "Tree and Shrub".
     
  12. stath155

    stath155 Member

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    mandarin, I checked the label its 40 oz. Bayer Complete Insect Killer Concentrate, Imidacloprid 0.72%, β-cyfluthrin 0.36%, label recommends 1 tablespoon per gallon for OUTDOOR use, so use much less, maybe half to a third of the dosage. I had problems for over 5 years with scale especially on two 5 foot coffee plants in one pot. Spider mites also an issue but not as noticeable. I've tried everything from neam oil to soaps, I even bagged them once and lit a cigarette. Interestingly, the apartment has been bug bombed for roaches and the scale survived though the leaves got toasted. I sprayed the plants almost a year and a half ago. As these are systemic insecticides they stay in the plants. According to the label 30 days, though indoors with slower growth I estimate much much longer. I don't spray the soil as I can see some bugs in there that break down organic matter.

    http://www.bayeradvanced.com/lawn-care/products/complete-brand-insect-killer-for-soil-turf/sizes
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  13. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    I had not heard of β-cyfluthrin (note spelling – it took me a while before I found out) before, but it is listed as an insecticide and aracicide, which indicates that it might have some effect on mites. Maybe. The Complete Insect Killer lists ticks among the pests it is effective against, and they are closely related to mites. However, I have so far not found any product with β-cyfluthrin that, according to labels etc., is effective against spider mites. They are difficult to fight ...
    Do not fiddle with the dosing, it might lead to the development of more resistant bugs. I suggest that you get a product specifically made for indoor usage if you feel uncomfortable with using Complete Insect Killer on indoor plants.
     
  14. stath155

    stath155 Member

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  15. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    I found one post where the poster claimed that the mites disappeared after applying imidacloprid, but there was no detailed information about the "experiment".
    I looked at one of my imidacloprid pesticides (from Bayer) and the label said the the effect on spider mites was "insufficient", indicating that it has some effect but is unsuitable for the job. I need far better evidence before I will try to eradicate spider mites with imidacloprid :).
     
  16. Furballs

    Furballs Active Member

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    That newer form of horticultural oil works a treat on spider mites. I use a hand pumped pressure sprayer, because it's just easier for me, but you can use a spray bottle too. Though the products usually have labels that only mention a tiny handful of green growing plants it is safe to use it on, I've used it on almost everything I grow. Ferns, succulents, cacti, tropicals. The only thing I don't use it on are succulents with that whitish or blueish coating, as it will remove that permanently. For them I use isopropyl alcohol, 98%, diluted by half with water. Works well. The oil does say you should not expose a newly sprayed plant to direct sun, and I try hard to follow that instruction, if I'm spraying outside. The only thing about the stuff I don't like is that because it does not have any chemical solvents in it, it does not stay mixed for long and must be shaken every minute or two, but it's a small price to pay for a product that works so well, has no odour and is approved for organic crop growing. In Canada, the only brand I know of personally is Green Earth, which is petroleum based, but in the US there is at least one brand made from vegetable oil. This stuff has eliminated mealy, scale, mites and white fly on every plant I've used it on, plus fungus gnats if I water the soil with the mixture. For the white flies, typically I have to do it again, because it won't catch any that are in the air at the time I spray.. and if an infestation is really bad, I'll repeat a week or two later, for safety's sake. I have even successfully got rid of root mealy bugs using this product.. either by watering the soil with it or stripping the soil and spraying the roots directly. The difference between this kind of horticultural oil and the one that is called Dormant Oil is that it has been purified more highly to remove all the sulphur compounds, which are the main reason dormant oil burns green leaves. It is why they say not to put newly sprayed plants in direct sun. Outdoors it's best done on a cloudy day, for garden plants, but I have yet to see a burnt leaf. If I am unsure of some new plant's potential reaction, I test spray a couple of leaves and wait a day or two to see what happens, so far, nothing bad has happened, just no more pests until some accidentally find their way in again from outside, on visitors or new plants. I try to treat new plants right away, to prevent that.
     
  17. cagreene

    cagreene Active Member

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    if the 'pests' are flying about your head, its highly unlikely that you have spider mites, as they do not have wings. sounds to me that you have fungus gnats. it is however possible, to have more than one bug at a time. to prevent this,NEVER purchase plants from grocery stores, outdoor or greenhouse nurseries, unless you plan on leaving your plant outside. even then ,i keep them separate from my others for up to 2 weeks, to be sure its healthy. if i truly must have it, i take it home in a plastic bag, wash the roots clean of any soil, bake the soil for 4 hrs at 450 degrees and that will kill any bugs,eggs,mold,fungus and other undesirables. the Eisenstein oil is the best of the organic bug juice, but separates easily, so mix 1 drop of sunlight dish soap to keep it well mixed.any other dish soap may harm plants. also, flying bugs can't fly if you put an osolating fan on your plants for 2 weeks, they often die off, or go else where.the fan will help your plants to grow thicker healthy base and stems as it breaks the cells ever so slightly, and as the plant repairs it self, its stronger, with more root zone. good luck
     

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