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by Cindy Farnham
(Horseheads New York)

These tiny black flying bugs have been flying around the inside of the house. I just noticed these tiny black flying bugs gather around the soil in my succulents. I put the plants outside but need to bring them in in the winter. What can I use to get rid of these tiny black flying bugs???

These are fungus gnats, and what you see are the annoying but harmless adults; more sinister are the larvae, which are hatching out in the soil. These eat rotting organic matter, such as what’s in the potting soil, and also plant roots.

They are notoriously hard to get rid of; the best way I’ve found after having several infestations of them is a two pronged attack; control the adults with yellow sticky traps, and also hit the young emerging ones that are hatching out of the soil, by spraying on a daily basis with a soap and water spray – I recommend insecticidal soap mixed to the label directions, which is harmless to the plants.

Culturally, the presence of fungus gnats indicates that the soil is too wet – this is critical, especially for succulents.

Let the soil dry out considerably before watering again; these plants need a dry soil, and hate wet feet.

If you can grow succulents how they prefer to be grown and in the right soil you generally won’t have any problem with fungus gnats. You might want to sign up for the Winterizing Succulents E-Course for more ideas on keeping your plants bug-free.

Hope that helps!