Growing cannabis is often a labor of love, whether or not you do it as a profession, out of necessity, or somewhere in between. However, there are certain hazards that every cannabis farmer can avoid that lie beyond being busted for a less than certified grow.
One of those is flying pests which love cannabis and find insidious ways to stick around known as Fungus Gnats. That is the bad news. Here is the good news. Getting rid of these unwanted flying guests also means that the conditions of the grow improve.
What Are Fungus Gnats?
Just the name sounds pretty grody. In reality, they can also be a grower’s worst living nightmare. These are short-lived flying insects that lay eggs in soil.
Known also as Sciarid flies, of the Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae families, these airborne, fast breeding, short-lived avengers look like tiny grey-black mosquitoes only with darker wings. They are also easily mistakable for drain or fruit flies.
They are about 1/8th of an inch long.
Usually first noticed when buzzing around plants in either homes or commercial facilities, their presence means trouble for any growing organism in the immediate vicinity. Adults live about a week and lay up to 300 eggs. Larvae emerge between four to six days later. Their plant feeding cycle then lasts a full two weeks before turning into pupas.
Their entire life cycle from gestation to adult is about 3-4 weeks. This also means that a single plant can be host to several generations of larvae simultaneously.
Fungus gnats are so named because of their larvae’s favorite food. The gnats lay their eggs in decaying topsoil. In turn the larvae which emerge, which look like tiny maggots, love to feast on fungus and decaying matter around them.
Here is the kicker. Wet soil is where fungus and decaying matter all come together in a unique biological soup, also known as a a free buffet for pests who will not only ruin your grow, but probably infest other parts of your life as well. Starting with the other plants in the immediate vicinity.
Here is the really bad news when it comes to fungus gnats. In addition to fungus, the root hairs and tender young roots of cannabis plants are also favorite snacks.
A bad larvae infestation of fungus gnats could damage or even kill young cannabis plants. Larvae can also cause slowed growth. Adult fungus gnats also spread diseases like Pythium, a common source of root rot, via their feet as they land on plants.
How To Spot A Fungus Gnat Invasion
Beyond disease carried by the adults, the larvae are the real issue here. Here are signs to look for if you cannot spot the larvae (and their white bodies with small black heads are easy to miss).
Seedlings or adult plants are sickly, or die for no easily apparent reason. This is also assuming that your other grow conditions are optimal of course. Things to look for include wilted leaves, yellowing, spots or drooping. When adult plants show these signs, there is a significant larvae infestation problem that should be immediately addressed. Plants also tend to grow far more slowly or stop growing altogether. Yields can also be smaller.
How To Eliminate The Problem
Fungus gnats are attracted to certain environments, so the easiest way to get rid of them is to change the grow conditions that attract them. Fungus gnats need fungus, and if you don’t have any, these mobile destroyers will keep on flying.
However that is often easier than it sounds. Fungus is also among us, most of the time, flying around as spores. These spores will remain inactive, however, until they find the right conditions to survive.
The easiest way to eliminate the issue is to stop overwatering the soil. Without wet topsoil, no fungus. No fungus, no gnats.
How To Eliminate An Infestation Issue Quickly
Beyond over watering here are a few quick tips to quickly address the problem beyond over watering.
- Put out a yellow gnat catcher. Fungus gnats love the color and will fly towards it and then stick. For particularly bad infestations, put up several. That way you make inroads on the adult population.
- Avoid watering plants for a few days beyond reducing watering in general. No more wet top soil equals no more fungus, and thereby no more fungus gnats.
- Kill the larvae before they hatch. One of the best ways to do this is to treat the top layer of the soil with Neem Oil. The solution is available at any grow or specialist cannabis shop, including online. Neem oil generally is a great addition to the box of essential cannabis cultivation tools as it also kills many other different kinds of pests who also love cannabis (including Aphids, caterpillars and white flies).
- Apply diatomaceous earth to the affected soil. This is an organic insect killer made of fossilized shells. The microscopic shards puncture the exoskeletons of insects, draining their body of fluids, but pose no damage to pets or humans (including being accidentally ingested). Use a powder duster to apply. Both supplies are easily available to purchase online.
- For particularly pernicious infestations, beyond mixing up the above methods, try organic pesticides. Apply every other day. Hydrogen Peroxide mixed with water can also be a way to put an immediate kibosh on the problem as you implement other options. Commercial greenhouses often use the insect growth regulator diflubenzuron, which will kill the larvae for between 1 to 2 months.
Generally, while the arrival of Fungus Gnats is never good news, experienced growers and newbies alike can take the opportunity, once found, to improve the overall conditions of the cultivation environment and implement better cultivation discipline if not procedures that produce healthy plants.
About Greenpoint Seeds: Greenpoint Seeds is a popular cannabis seed bank with awesome genetics, and attentive customer service. We would love to hear from you about this article. Find out more about us at https://greenpointseeds.com/about-us/
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|Post Excerpt / Short Description||Fungus Gnats are an ever present threat to even experienced growers. Here are tips to spot them and stop infestations.|