It would be bad enough to be hatched into this world as a gnat larva, but when all you have to look forward to is that one day soon you’ll morph into a fragile fungus gnat, that is some serious short-straw karma. I guess to be known as a fungus anything is a bad deal. But a gnat?
As a garden enthusiast, I’ve learned that garden pests, big and small, have their place in the natural order of things. I don’t have to understand what that order is, but I have to trust that they serve a purpose… somehow, somewhere, just not in my backyard.
Fungus Gnat Larvae
Fungus gnat larvae are not solitary critters, by a long shot. Mama gnat lays up to 15o eggs at a time, strategically nesting them really close to the stem of young plants on the soil surface. When conditions are just right, they hatch in four to 6 days into the larval stage. For the next two weeks they do what larvae do, eating (and damaging) the tender stems of your young plants and spreading plant disease.
Adult Fungus Gnat
All too soon, they pupate and emerge as an adult fungus gnat just a few days later. Circle of life. At least for the gnats that don’t get picked off by toads and lizards. Even as an adult, the gnat can spread plant disease, but mostly they leave the plants alone. They don’t bite or sting, so adult fungus gnats are just annoying bugs that love to wallow in moist soil, rich in organic matter.
To keep gnat infestations under control, you don’t have to reach for the bug spray. Instead, simply reduce standing water, don’t let your garden soil get too muddy, and keep the top 1″ of your compost pile dry. Arid, dry conditions are inhospitable for the fungus gnat and they just buzz on by.
This article is the sixth in a series of 26 consecutive articles, as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for the whole month of April. Tomorrow, I’ll post an article with a title that begins with the letter “G”… So goes the rest of the alphabet, through the end of the month.
In closing, I have a little challenge for you. Because the letters “X” “Q” and “Z” pose a challenge of their own, send me a title idea beginning with those letters. If I choose to write your title, I’ll send you a small prize to show my appreciation. Use the comments box below, or email your title to email@example.com
Editor’s Note: photos courtesy of pbase.com and bugguide.net