Kill Fungus Gnats Naturally with BTI

Fungus gnats live in moist potting soil, where they lay their eggs. But all-natural BTI will kill fungus gnats in their larval state--before they can become pesky, flying adults.

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Looking for a way to kill fungus gnats naturally? Sooner or later you will have to deal with fungus gnats infesting your houseplants. Fungus gnats are the tiny flying pests that can swarm like an annoying black cloud whenever an infested houseplant or outdoor potted plant is moved.

Fungus gnats (Bradysia species) are small, mosquito-like insects that commonly infest the soil or growing medium of potted plants. When outdoor plants are brought indoors for the colder months, fungus gnats in the potting mix are brought indoors. That’s when they can quickly infest the soil of other houseplants.

Fungus gnats thrive in moist potting soil, where they lay their eggs. After the eggs hatch, fungus gnat larvae live in the top two to three inches of the potting soil. Fungus gnat larvae can cause plant damage by eating plant roots. After about two or three weeks, the fungus gnat larvae pupate in the potting soil. Then they become the tiny black adult gnats that fly erratically when a potted plant is moved.

Let the potting soil dry out between plant waterings. This will help control fungus gnats. But sometimes more aggressive measures are needed to kill these insect pests. Fortunately, there are now natural, non-chemical ways to naturally kill fungus gnats and control fungus gnat infestations.

 

Naturally Kill Fungus Gnat Larvae with BTI

To kill fungus gnats naturally, use BTI. Fungus gnats are closely related to mosquitoes, so fungus gnat larvae are effectively killed by BTI. (BTI is a naturally occurring bacterium that is deadly to mosquito larvae AND fungus gnat larvae.)

BTI, which is short for Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, is deadly to mosquito larvae and fungus gnat larvae but harmless to other living things. The bacterium is nature’s way of keeping fungus gnat and mosquito populations down. But fortunately, BTI has no effect on other insects (such as bees and butterflies). Nor does it harm animals, fish, birds, plants, pets or people.

BTI is the active ingredient in top-selling Mosquito Bits®, which is approved for the control of fungus gnats. To kill fungus gnat larvae, simply shake the granular Mosquito Bits® onto the potting soil in houseplants. Also use it on other container-grown plants—including vegetables and herbs.

a package of mosquito bits that kill mosquitoes and fungus gnats
Mosquito Bits contain BTI to kill fungus gnat larvae and mosquito larvae. This product is harmless to people, pets, beneficial insects, fish and wildlife.

 

Soak Mosquito Bits in Water

Here’s another easy way to kill fungus gnats naturally with BTI. Make Mosquito Bits tea! Just mix 4 tablespoons of Mosquito Bits® in 1 gallon of water. Let the Bits soak for 30 minutes to remove the BTI, then skim off the floating granules. (You can also place the Bits in a nylon stocking prior to immersing them in water. That makes it easier to remove the granules, which can be composted or discarded.)

Now stir or shake the water to make sure the BTI is thoroughly mixed in. Then use the “BTI water” to water the soil or potting mix of houseplants and container plants. This treatment controls fungus gnat larvae present in the soil at the time of application. Repeat this process weekly for three weeks. If fungus gnats reappear at a later time, simply repeat this treatment again. Buy Mosquito Bits here.

Because fungus gnats can be an ongoing problem, keep a container of Mosquito Bits on your Cypress Potting Table with your other gardening supplies.

 

Kill Adult Fungus Gnats with Horticultural Oil

There is also an environmentally friendly, organic way to kill fungus gnats after they become adults. Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil is a lightweight horticultural oil that controls a wide variety of insect pests including fungus gnats. Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil is OMRI Listed® by the Organic Materials Review Institute and approved for use in certified organic production, and it’s perfect for indoor use.

Unlike many other pesticides that kill insects with toxic chemicals, Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil literally smothers insects to death. The oil spray blocks an insect’s breathing holes (called spiracles), causing insects to die from asphyxiation.

Summit Year-Round Spray Oil is an organic way to kill insect pests

Summit Year Round Spray Oil can be used any time during the year to kill fungus gnats because it won’t harm tender plant buds, shoots or leaves. This lightweight oil has no odor, and it will effectively control pests on even sensitive plants such as tropical houseplants, roses, impatiens, citrus trees, and ferns. Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil naturally kills fungus gnats. It also kills a wide variety of insect pests including aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, mealybugs, scale, thrips, lace bugs and more. Unlike chemical pesticides which can become less effective after repeated use, there is no known build-up of insect resistance to horticultural oil sprays.

Mosquito Bits® and Summit® Year-Round® Spray Oil are available at home centers, hardware stores, garden centers and at www.SummitResponsibleSolutions.com.

 

Can BTI Be Used to Control Mosquitoes?

The short answer is Yes! In fact, BTI has been used to kill mosquitoes for more than 30 years. Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) has been called “Mother Nature’s mosquito control” because this bacterium kills mosquito larvae and virtually nothing else. BTI also kills fungus gnats, because fungus gnats are genetically very closely related to mosquitoes.

Mosquito Dunks use chemical-free BTI to kill mosquitoes
Mosquito Dunks use chemical-free BTI to kill mosquitoes. Just float a Mosquito Dunk in standing water to kill mosquito larvae.

The best-selling BTI product in the world is called Mosquito Dunks. Just place the handy donut-shaped Dunks in birdbaths, rainbarrels, ponds and anywhere that water collects. The BTI in the Mosquito Dunks will kill mosquito larvae for 30 days or longer. For more information, read Use BTI to Kill Mosquitoes. To check the price and availability of Mosquito Dunks, click here

When the job of killing insect pests is done, take a break in your comfortable Victoria Rocking Chair.

This story contains sponsored content. Home Garden and Homestead earns a small commission from qualifying purchases on Amazon.com and other partner sites when you click on a link and buy a recommend product. Thanks for your support!

 

 

13 Comments
  1. Laura says

    I have a ton of fungus gnats in my yard and I think it’s because for two years I had a leak in my inground pool. I have a garden along the back of my house about 100 feet long by 3 feet wide. I do not have any plants, but there are rocks and dirt underneath. I’m thinking it’s drenched under there and that’s where they’re coming from. I noticed a ton of them there the other day, and they’re constantly by my patio door. We fixed the leak in the pool and I’m hoping to finally be rid of these pests. I’ve read solutions on how to get rid of them, but I’m looking for a solution where I don’t have to move the rocks and use something of the large area. Suggestions please, thank you.

    1. Randy Schultz says

      Laura–

      It does sound like your leaky in-ground pool created a wet breeding ground for fungus gnats. You need to buy Mosquito Bits (the large size!) and sprinkle them throughout the affected area. The BTI on the surface of the Mosquito Bits will kill the fungus gnat larvae in the soil. (BTI is a naturally occurring bacterium that kills the larvae of fungus gnats and mosquitoes but is harmless to people, pets, beneficial insects, birds and other wildlife.)

      With the infestation you describe, apply Mosquito Bits every 7 days throughout the summer. You should start seeing WAY FEWER fungus gnats soon! Click on the Mosquito Bits jug photo above and you will be taken straight to the Summit Responsible Solutions store on Amazon where you can buy Mosquito Bits.

      Randy Schultz

  2. Alana Marchese says

    Ugh! These fungus gnats are taking over my house. I’ve used mosquito bits two times now in two weeks. Now I’m noticing more flying around opposed to just seeing them in the plants with an occasional one flying around. Is this normal?! Does it get worse before it gets better. Help me please! I’m ready to throw out all my beautiful plants 😢

  3. Randy Schultz says

    Alana–

    It’s important to remember that the BTI in Mosquito Bits only kills the larvae of fungus gnats. This interrupts the life cycle of these pests and kills the next generation of gnats. To kill the adults, use Summit Year-Round Spray Oil. Please re-read that section of the story.

    Also, we just added info about how to create “BTI water” by soaking Mosquito BIts granules. Please see that section of the story for instructions.

    Don’t give up on your plants quite yet!

  4. Amber says

    Is there a difference between sprinkling the mosquito bits on top of the soil versus using it as mosquito bit water? Is one more effective than the other?

    1. Randy Schultz says

      Amber–

      Both methods of using Mosquito Bits are effective. One of the advantages of soaking the Bits in water and then drenching the soil is the BTI (the active ingredient in the Mosquito Bits) gets thoroughly distributed throughout the potting soil.

      Randy Schultz

  5. Kim says

    What is the difference between BT and BTI?

    1. Randy Schultz says

      There are several strains of BT, but the most commonly used are the kurstaki strain (BTK) and the israelensis strain (BTI). Each strain is specific to the insect larvae it controls. BTI is effective against mosquito and fungus gnat larvae. BTK is effective against the caterpillars of certain moths and butterflies.

  6. chris says

    I have a Mosquito Dunk mixed up in water, Would it be ok to apply it with a small sprayer like the one in the illustration at the top of the page? It would be an easier way to dampen the soil in my situation. Thanks!

    1. Randy Schultz says

      Sure. That should work fine.

      1. CHRIS says

        Thanks so much! Take care.

  7. Shanelle says

    Hi! If I don’t use all the Mosquito bits tea do I need to dump it out or how long does it last before going bad?
    Thank you!

    1. Randy Schultz says

      Hi Shanelle! When you make Mosquito Bits tea, you need to use it on your plants within 48 hours.

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