How To Get Rid of Fungus Gnats on Succulents: A Simple Guide

By | Updated on October 31, 2023

Fungus gnats are small, black flies that feed on the roots and leaves of your succulents.

They lay their eggs in moist soil and can cause damage to the plant if not dealt with promptly.

These pests are a problem for many gardeners and those who grow plants indoors.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to get rid of gnats on succulents and keep them from coming back.

This article will discuss how to get rid of gnats on succulents and prevent infestations in the future!

What Are Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are small, black flies that live most of their lives in the soil.

They look similar to fruit flies, and many people think they’re the same, but fungus gnats have more defined wings which can be seen when looking closer at them.

Fungus gnats are attracted to moisture so, many people find they have a pest infestation after watering their plants.

If you’ve noticed tiny black flies in your home or office, you likely need to get rid of fungus gnats on your succulents.

What Do Fungus Gnat Larvae Look Like

These gnats will lay their eggs in damp soil rich with organic matter like peat moss or coconut coir.

The fungus gnat larvae look very similar to mosquitoes but without the long proboscis (a tube-like appendage used for feeding), and they have six legs instead of eight.

They like to live in moist soil where they will find decomposing plant matter and feed on it, which causes root gnats.

How Do Fungus Gnats Damage Succulents?

Fungus gnat larvae can cause a lot of damage to your succulents because they will feed on the plant roots, leaves, and stems. 

If you’ve noticed that some of the leaves are turning yellow or falling off despite regular watering, then there are probably fungus gnats in your soil.

The gnats can cause root rot which will kill your plant, and larvae feeding on the stems or leaves of succulents is just as bad.

Root gnat damage shows up in browning spots along the leaf edges and along the stem. Gnats can also cause mold to grow, which looks similar to root rot fungus or other pests.

Why Are My Succulents Attracting Gnats?

Succulents attract bugs and gnats for a variety of reasons.

If you have gnats on your succulents, it may be because the plant is not being cared for properly or due to the growing environment.

Gnats that gnaw on your succulent plants are fungus gnats.

The larvae of these little buggers will infest the soil and then lay their eggs there so they can grow up to be gnatty adults.

They do this because it’s an excellent place to feed and breed since fungus thrives in damp soil.

Fungus gnats are attracted to the smell of sugary sap, which succulents exude from their leaves and stems as a nectar-like substance for ants that help protect them against other insects.

The gnats love these sweet secretions so much they’ll lay eggs on your plants if there are enough of these tasty treats.

The gnats that are after your succulents might be attracted to the smell of their sweet nectar, but they’re also drawn in by bright lights at night, so you need to turn off any nearby lighting if you want them gone for good.

Fungus gnats can live outdoors, too, so you might need to deal with gnat infestations on your succulent garden if gnats are breeding there.

What Causes Fungus Gnats on Succulents

Succulents are gnat magnets for several reasons.

Fungus gnats love damp soil, so they’ll lay their eggs in the potting mix if it stays wet for a long time without drying out.

This situation may arise when you excessively water your succulents, causing the soil to remain overly damp for an extended period. Succulents will rot in this kind of environment, and gnats love rotten plant matter since it provides them with ample breeding grounds.

Also, gnats can come in on succulents from outdoors. If the soil of your plants didn’t dry enough after you transplanted them, gnat eggs may have been brought into the pot with the plant and started hatching once they were planted.

A third reason fungus gnats might be attracted to your succulents is that gnats love the sticky sap that succulents produce.

If gnats have been flying around your plants and getting stuck in this sap, they may decide to lay their eggs there before taking off again.

When you see fungus gnat adults flitting about your soil, it’s time for action!

How To Identify Fungus Gnats on Succulents

Fungus gnats are small gnat-like insects that are easily identified by the presence of their wings.

They have long legs and a larger abdomen than other gnats, allowing them to fly long distances if needed.

Fungus gnats tend to be black or brown but can also come in a lighter tan shade.

Fungus gnats love moisture and humidity at all times of the year, particularly wintertime when it is cold outside, and they cannot find water anywhere else!

Succulent plants seem like perfect hosts for fungus gnats because succulents naturally trap water inside themselves, so you don’t need watering very frequently – thus creating the ideal breeding ground for these pests.

You can know for sure that you’re dealing with a fungus gnat infestation if the leaves of your succulent plants become yellow and distorted.

If so, they may have been gnawed on by these tiny insects – though this doesn’t necessarily mean fungus gnats are present.

You will need to look for other signs, such as larvae or adults, before knowing what type of pest is attacking your succulents.

The Life Cycle Of Fungus Gnats On Succulents: How To Identify Adults, Larvae And Eggs

The gnat life cycle is short – about two weeks for an adult to reach adulthood.

The female gnats will lay between 20 and 40 eggs at a time on the soil of your succulent pot or in crevices where moisture can gather.

These sometimes fall off into other areas, so be sure you check every inch of your home if you see these succulent pests outside!

The larvae hatch from their egg casings after just one day and then proceed to eat away at any available plant material around them until they pupate into adults that fly away once again.

Adult fungus gnats live only long enough to mate before dying, but it takes much longer than just two weeks for them to become adults.

After the gnats lay their eggs, it takes about a month for the larvae to hatch and eat away at your succulents. Then they pupate into gnat adults that live just two weeks before laying more eggs!

How To Get Rid of Fungus Gnats on Succulents

Fungus gnats are a common problem for people who have succulents in their home. It’s also the most annoying thing ever!

The little gnat flies that hang out near your plants flying around when you turn on the lights at night, and generally just being pests.

They can be challenging to get rid of once they infest an area, so it is best to act early if you see them appearing near your beautiful collection of succulents.

To get rid of gnats on succulents, you need first to identify if they are fungus gnats or fruit flies.

The easiest way is by looking at the wings: Fruit flies have clear and/or black wings, while gnat’s wings will be more opaque in color like a brownish-grey.

Next up, it helps to know what triggers them to get out of their tiny gnat-sized homes (usually your succulent soil). Here are some things that can trigger gnats flying around:

  • If there’s too much moisture in the air (this means humidity)
  • If there isn’t enough ventilation for your plants
  • If you’re overwatering your poor plant baby! This might seem obvious, but we all get busy sometimes and forget our awesome responsibility to care for our succulents.

Now that you know what to look out for, it’s time to get gnat-killing! Here are some gnat-killing methods you can use:

Gnat Traps

One of the most effective ways is to buy gnat traps, essentially sticky tape that gnats get stuck on.

The only drawback with these suckers is that they don’t discriminate between types of gnats, so if you have both fruit flies and fungus gnats, it will kill them all!

Alcohol Spray

Take a bottle filled with rubbing alcohol (the highest level of concentration) and spray your plants down wherever there’s moist soil or water deposits.

You should see results within 24 hours as the gnats will suffocate in this environment.

If you’re worried about killing off any beneficial bacteria in your succulent pots, like I do, make sure not to overdo it with the alcohol.

One or two spritzes should do it!

Diatomaceous Earth

This gnat-killing powder is made up of crushed sedimentary rock rich in silica. It will dry out the gnats and leave them dead.

You can either sprinkle DE on your succulent soil or take a fine brush to get between all those tiny spaces where gnats like to hide.

I use this method sometimes if my plants are infested because it’s gentle enough that you don’t have to worry about killing any gnat eggs that might be lurking!

Hydrogen Peroxide

If gnats are already flying around your plants like crazy, you can put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in the soil to kill off any gnat eggs that might be there.

This method is not as effective for gnats already flying around and will work better if you combine it with other methods on this list.

Cinnamon Powder

Cinnamon powder is a gnat’s worst enemy. The stuff will kill them on contact and has a pleasant smell!

The thing to remember with this gnat-killing method is that it works best if you’re proactively sprinkling the cinnamon powder wherever there’s moist soil or gnats are being seen.

If you use too much at once, your plants might have a tough time absorbing water until the gnat killer wears off, so be careful!

Neem Oil

Neem oil is known to kill off gnats, and it also has a nice side-effect of repelling other gnat species from settling in your succulent soil!

This stuff will get rid of gnats while leaving the beneficial bacteria intact, so you should still be able to use this method even if you have root rot or fungus gnats.

Dish Soap

This gnat-killing method is pretty simple, take some dish soap (the cheaper, the better) and mix it with some water.

Don’t worry about diluting too much because gnats can handle a bit of harshness! Just make sure to spray this mixture wherever there’s moist soil or gnats are being seen.

How To Prevent Fungus Gnats on Succulents

Fungus gnats are a common problem for succulent owners. They can be extremely annoying, but fortunately, they’re easy to prevent!

Don’t Overwater With a Poorly Draining Soil Mix.

The gnats thrive in moist soil, so the most important thing is to ensure your succulents are never too wet.

We recommend using a soil with excellent drainage and ensuring that water does not accumulate on top of the soil after watering your plant!

You may also want to avoid water from above or mist succulents since gnats are attracted to the water droplets that form on leaves after you’ve watered your plants.

Don’t overwater your succulents with a poorly draining soil mix. Water sparingly, allowing the top of the soil mixture to dry out before watering again.

Repot With Fresh Soil Regularly

It’s also helpful to replace old or bad/moldy soil from time to time through repotting into fresh new organic quality soils.

This way, you can prevent fungus gnat infestations by removing potential breeding grounds from gnats developing inside old pots that were too wet for long periods.

When repotting succulents, always use fresh potting soil that has perlite or sand added to it.

Remove All Debris Around Your Plant

It is also essential to remove all debris around your plant. Gnats like to lay their eggs in dead plant matter. You will want to ensure that all of the gnat’s breeding ground is removed.

Remove any dead leaves, flowers, or stems from your succulent regularly and keep your plant free of debris around it.

Don’t let gnats breed anywhere around your succulent by removing all debris and dead matter regularly.

Keep Your Succulents Out of Wet Areas

Keeping your succulent plant out of regularly wet areas can also prevent gnats from breeding in these areas.

You may want to avoid growing succulents near places where you use water, such as the sink or shower.

If gnats are a problem in your house, you may want to avoid keeping them near drains or any other wet area.

Keep your succulents out of areas with high moisture and humidity that gnat larvae like to breed in.

If gnats are a persistent problem for you, then it can be helpful to place your succulents in a location with lower humidity.

Remove Gnat-Infested Succulents Immediately

You will need to remove gnat-infested plants from your collection as gnats can fly and spread quickly.

If you already have a gnat problem, removing the affected plant is critical for getting rid of fungus gnats on succulents.

It is important to remove gnat-infested succulents immediately. If you already have gnats in your house, removing the affected plant can prevent them from flying and spreading throughout your home.

Final Thoughts

Fungus gnats on succulents are a common problem. But when you know the cause and how to get rid of gnats on succulents, it can be easily dealt with.

When you notice gnat activity around your plant, it is crucial to act fast and get rid of them before they do any damage or reproduce.

The gnats are attracted to moisture, so it is important to allow the soil to dry out and remove any standing water.

Removing gnat food sources is also a crucial part of preventing them from coming back in the future.

One final thing to remember is that prevention is always better than cure.

When you first bring home a new succulent, make sure to inspect it for gnats or larvae before placing it in the house.

This way, you will be able to get rid of them right away and not have any issues down the line.

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