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Mailbag: Attack of the fungus gnats

I am having a problem with my indoor houseplants -- maybe you can help me with it. My husband changed the dirt and now my plants are full of gnats. I sprayed them with soap and bug spray. It is not helping. Maybe you can tell me what to do. My house is full of  bugs. I never had this problem before. Hope you can help me. -- Maryann

Hi, Maryann. I had a similar problem a few months ago. Fungus gnats thrive in moist locations, the soil-less potting mix you used very likely was moist in the bag -- a perfect breeding ground for gnats.

Carefully remove the plant from the pot and rinse it under a very gentle stream of room-temperature water or submerge the entire plant very briefly in a deep pot of water. That should wash off all the gnats and hopefully remove some of the eggs, too.

Repot plants using a potting mix that's labeled as "sterile." Next, get some sticky bug traps and hang them around the area to clear your home of the adults, and treat plants with a natural product like Gnatrol, which contains Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) var. israelensis, to eliminate the larvae. Good luck! -- Jessica

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