How do I get rid of little flying black bugs that seem to be in my potting soil? Where are they coming from?
Something that has worked for me is to put a bit of liquid dish soap into a spray bottle, diluted with water and spray the plants and the soil that has the bugs. I had to do it several times over the course of a few months, but I no longer have any bugs from the soil in my house. They seem to just die when they are sprayed, and the soap doesn't harm the plants. Mine are all thriving, so I've had no problem with that. (09/11/2004)
I agree with Melodie, and I have to add ... put 1/4 inch of sand on top of the potting soil. the bugs are laying eggs in the wet soil. so adding sand confuses them, as sand dries quickly, not enough moisture to hatch eggs. water gently but thoroughly. (09/13/2004)
You are probably buying the cheap potting soil that comes in the cheap plastic bags. This soil is not sterilized so all the bugs and eggs and stuff have not been killed in it. It is more expensive, yet it saves you a lot of grief in the long run, but buying the more expensive brand-name dirt in the nice bags will not have any bugs or eggs. It is also better for your plants in that it has peat moss and other fillers mixed into it already (and sometimes fertilizers as well) and the cheap dirt does not.
So you should add peat moss and perlite or vermiculite to lighten the soil. If you do not, the soil compacts around the roots, cutting off their air supply (roots need to breathe, too), causing your plants to die. So, better soil prevents pesky bugs and successful plants. That cheap soil is mostly meant for adding to a flower bed or using in outdoor planters. I have worked in a greenhouse and been a houseplant enthusiast for many, many years. And I have never seen a pesticide that can kill those bugs off.
Good luck! Heather (09/14/2004)
By Heather H.
Melodie's suggestion about the liquid dish soap and water in a spray bottle always works for me. Try it. (09/25/2004)
Being a thrifty person I will try the dish soap diluted with water. I'll put a good layer of sand on top of the soil as well. Thank you for this info!
Bye the way the bugs are in my apartment and biting me making me itch. I can't get rid of the flower pot because it was given to me by my daughter for a mothers day gift. (although, I have considered throwing the pot into the dumpster several times!) (05/08/2005)
I am having the exact same problem, and will not consider tossing either the plant nor the container.
I will however try the soap trick and the sand [maybe I can kill em twice as fast huh?] I hope so, I am sick of yawning and having to pick little bug's from my tongue after, I do however get a bit of exercise while watching T.V. by swatting at these darn pest's.
Also I did purchase the cheap soil this time as I was planning to only use it outdoor's, but I needed to transplant this one plant, I have several bags of it, anyone want it? lol
Thank you all
The best solution is to buy premium soil. If it's too late, soapy water in a spray bottle works but sometimes not permanently. Sand works well for the eggs in the soil. I heard Cinnamon works if sprinkled on the soil, for you Homeopaths. Also, Spanish moss or other decorative mulches deters gnats from finding new plants to lay eggs on. (03/12/2007)
I have them too! all over outside in my potted plants. I am trying the soapy water. I guess I got the one bad bag of miracle grow potting soil. Will anything else work? (06/16/2007)
I just sprayed my plants at work with dish soap and water and it must have worked. I tried it once before but it did not work. This time I added a lot of dish soap and I have found a lot of those little flies dead within a minute or two. Now I won't have to get rid of my plants. Thanks everyone for your great advice. Have a fantastic day! (08/09/2007)
I just read to pour rubbing alcohol in the soil, has anyone tried this? I hope it doesn't hurt the plant but I am desperate.
Editor's Note: I'm afraid it would kill the plant. The best thing to do is scrape off the top of the soil and throw it away. Then put some new soil on top. That should help get rid of the bugs. (08/21/2007)
I also am over run by the little buggers and they bite. Soap spray hasn't worked, chemicals haven't worked. I got these bugs from a huge expensive bag of Miracle Grow. I have been down this bug road before which is why I bought the good dirt- or so I thought.
This is what I'm going to do this time. I'm going to the store and insist that the bag be opened and checked for bugs prior to purchase. If no bugs I'm going to take all my plants out side in the back yard and remove all the dirt and gently rinse them roots and all clean with the hose. I'll then take them to the front yard where I'll have the fresh dirt and new pots and re-plant them. I'm then going to take them to my mom's house for a couple weeks till I'm sure all the left over flying bugs in my house are dead. When I see no more sign of bugs I'll bring them home. This is how desperate I have become to go to such lengths.
Three of my plants belonged to my great aunt who is no longer with us they are very old and very large, and one was purchased for our daughters funeral which means so very much to us. I just can't toss them out. Wish me luck. If this works I'll re-post and share my happiness.
My husband loved the post about the person who was picking the bugs from their teeth as he choked on one at dinner the other night.
I have these little guys to. I bought the most expensive Miracle Grow potting Soil, twice, and they have come from both batches. Doesn't seem to matter if you buy the good stuff or not. (01/05/2008)
Hello Ladies: I bought my first ficus indoor plant at Lowells Hardware Store, in the Garden Dept. Since I was strapped for money, the store worker provided me with a cheap bag of soil. Not knowing anything about plants, or flowers I had no idea what I was in for. I was worried about killing my new indoor tree and got instructions on watering and over watering, no one told me about bugs.
Three weeks after having my tree which was doing great, these little pest showed up. I refuse to get rid of my tree. I sprayed house and garden bug killer around the tree and find hundreds of tiny, tiny little black specks behind my love seat and couch and around the window seal. They also follow me upstairs and dive around my hair, or clothing.
I find them in my coffee, or food, only because I see little wings on them so I knew it was a flying insect of sort. They are so small they can virtually get into anything and be anywhere. I read about the soap and water thing tonight and immediately sprayed my tree and soil, please god let this be the answer. I also read about soap, water and cooking oil, what do you think about that? Help! Cheryl Phx, AZ (02/03/2008)
When you buy a new bag of potting soil, wrap a big bag around it and throw it in the freezer over night! Should kill em! I have done the water and dish soap thing too!! Worked for me, took a few months though! (02/26/2008)
I put sand on the top of the soil. They were fungus gnats, black little bugs around my new seedlings. I checked into it turns out if you are over watering they love to lay their eggs in the soil and eat the roots of your plants. Anyway let the soil get dry and try some sand or make sure to water from the bottom! (03/15/2008)
By Nicole B.
I too have had those annoying black bugs. I purchased a cheap bag of "potting soil" at my do it yourself center and low and behold, they started appearing. To stop the kill the little buggards, I also watered with the a solution of lots of dish soap and water in a cup and proceeded to drown the plant. I haven't seen any more yet.
Then I remembered you can also kill the little buggards and anything lurking in your potting soil by baking it in the oven at around 200 degrees for a half hour. Let cool and proceed to replant with your sterile soil. Both work well. Good luck to all of you. (03/15/2008)
I live in the Arctic, so we have lots of indoor plants. Over the years my friends and I have tried the soapy water, scrapping the top of the soil off, and a host of other things. The only thing that has worked on a consistent basis has been baking the dirt. It doesn't matter if expensive or inexpensive potting soils were purchased, the little flying bugs appear. It doesn't matter how much or how little water has been used, the little pests appear. All sorts of sprays and other concoctions have been tried...the flying horrors appear. Forget the sand, they arise as if it is Easter! Bake the dirt. Make sure you bake it long enough to kill off the eggs. Good Luck (03/22/2008)
I started noticing gnats in my house about a month ago. I killed some of them with a fly swatter. Then I started seeing smaller ones and suspected babies. It wasn't until I went on the internet that I discovered that they could com from plants. I thought they only came from fruits. I followed the info about vinegar and dish liquid. It worked! I also threw away the newest plant in my house, and replaced it with a newly potted one. So far no gnats. (04/04/2008)
I just started my own garden on my balcony in my new apartment and I have the same problem. They are in my new morning glory seedlings that just began to sprout. I'm afraid that they will eat my poor babies. I will try the soapy water but I still need to purchase the sand. Thank you all for this information. I hope it works for me as well :) (04/05/2008)
Found the best cure for black flies/gnats that come in potting soil. Son of a fly do these kill a hobbie! Anyway my mother had a tomato dust of 5% insecticide. I dusted the soil top heavily and watered. Results: hundreds of dead bugs! I tried the low % insecticide spray, but this powder of 5% did the trick. (05/27/2008)
I just opened a new bag of Organic Choice Miracle Grow and have tons of flying black bugs, too. If I didn't have to put the bag and bugs in my car, I'd return it. What a waste. (07/06/2008)
Does anyone know if (baking the soil in the oven) would help get rid of the little bugs? (09/12/2008)
That's all very interesting, I have had my plants for 3 years and now all of a sudden I have these little pest. All my plants are inside plants. Thanks for all the tips I will start on some of these suggestions right away. (11/17/2008)
I bought the best Miracle Grow potting soil with plant food already added. These little flying black bugs are driving us crazy. I will try the dish soap. Will it hurt the plant if it gets to the root? (11/24/2008)
Can anyone tell me what the ratio of soap/vinegar/water is for watering/soaking the plant? I want to kill the eggs too, not just the bugs. My husband is also very annoyed at these bugs, and wants them gone. (Although my 4 year old thinks they are cute and is totally against killing them. LOL) I want to be careful not to put too much of one ingredient in and kill the plant too. Thanks! (01/02/2009)
Also, will any dish soap work? I use an antibacterial dish soap but would that be too harsh? (01/04/2009)
I hope the sand works,those little bugs are driving me nuts. (01/11/2009)
I used the dish soap idea but to no avail! I'm so scared that if I put to much soap I might kill the plant. Can anyone give me a good ratio of soap to water that would work on a small plant? (02/25/2009)
Hi, I have this problem too and just found out through wiki answers.com that these are fungus gnats.You get rid of them by setting trays of vinegar out near your pots. Need to get rid of all the bugs, including their eggs that hatch and become adults - so could take time. Also,you can buy those yellow sticky traps. At least this is something to try. I hate those things, they try to fly into my eyes. Good luck. (11/29/2009)
I saw a link that someone said to use hairspray. Today I took out the can and sprayed the top of the soil and turned the soil over and a zillion little flies were hopping all over. I sprayed the top of the soil again and now the little black flying bugs are down to about 2 every 5 hours. I also sprayed the little white "worms" that we coming to the top and it worked on them also.
The hair spray stops them from flying and they die. Sure was glad I had a new can of hair spray on hand. Good luck (02/07/2010)
BT has been highly recommended to get rid of maggots of fungus gnats in the potting medium thus preventing plants specially seedlings from being attacked by these worms. It is not toxic to plants or animals and is commonly found in mosquito dunk products and in granular form as well. Follow the directions and save your plants! (05/24/2010)
Here is a pic of the larvae. (05/24/2010)
My mom suggested making a sort of tea from a couple cigarette's worth of tobacco and spraying that on the soil. She's had good luck with it, I guess.
I have some outlandishly expensive Miracle Gro potting soil. Didn't help. I expect that these wretched bugs live just about everywhere so it doesn't matter what soil you buy, they find their way into the house through a window or door and voila! They're all yours.
I carefully pulled my amaryllis out of the pot and rinsed it in the sink. Then I took ALL the dirt out of the pot, put in in cake/pie/cookie/bread/any other pan I could find (be careful, the gnats will fly in your face while you do this. Yuck), and baked it in my oven for 30-45 minutes at 325 degrees. If that doesn't kill the little buggers nothing will.
In the meantime I put a small amount of wine in a pan and warmed it gently on the stove for about 90 seconds. It should still be comfortable to put your fingers in it, but just warm enough to smell. That should attract the bugs and drown them (and hey, they'll die happy drinking cheap sangria! A very humane way to take care of them).
Repot the plant, leave a dish of wine or vinegar next to the pot for a week (you might want to change it every couple days), and water with dilute dish soap for a couple weeks to make sure they're all out of your house.
I think I just combined all the previous methods. I hope my amaryllis survives the repotting. (05/30/2010)
So I've had these little super annoying bugs flying around for a week. My one little plant has sentimental value to me and is out on the deck. I wanted to get good soil for it and bought the premium Miracle Grow organic potting soil that was the most expensive that Wal-Mart had.
Finally started googling today about little flying bugs because no matter how many I killed more would come and saw some people mention it could be potting soil.. went back to the opened bag I used for my plant and bam, bunch of the evil little things. I've read like 7 or 8 other posters mention Miracle Grow too, buyer beware. God do I hate those bugs. Going to need to transplant my plant to new dirt now, but how likely is it that I'll get another bad batch of soil? (08/20/2010)
I have a huge problem with these nasty little critters; I agree they have invaded our home via potting soil we have purchased.
I have tried numerous chemical bug sprays, even granular insect control to no avail. After visiting this forum a little over a week ago, I thought I'd give the "tobacco juice" formula a try. I found various formulas on line. Most of the recipes include a brew of tobacco, with a measure of liquid dish soap and mouthwash added. I used the cigar butts from my ashtray and trash can to make the tobacco brew in very hot tap water (overnight steep), added the other ingredients and strained through a fine mesh screen.
Less than a week ago, I sprayed one of my large planted pots (on the soil to wet thoroughly) which had literally thousands of these minute beasts in it, and it looks like the juice is working! It isn't a "kill on contact" solution, but I have to say I am extremely encouraged by the results after just less than a week. We'll see... (03/24/2011)
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