January Animal - Gnat
Dennis Ferraro, UNL Extension, is also the resident herpetologist at the School of Natural Resources. Dennis writes timely articles on animals that you might see on your acreage in Nebraska, ranging from mammals to insects. This month's insect has already been the topic of phone calls that Dennis has received.
Fungus gnats, Moth Flies, Phorid Flies and other small flying creatures that stir in the home over the winter…
Small, smoke-colored gnats resembling tiny fruit flies deposit eggs in wet drains, water trays, and the soil of potted plants. Plants brought in from outside, poinsettia plants, water sources for cut flowers, and holiday trees are all excellent breeding grounds for these creatures. Small, thin white maggots feed on organic matter and sometimes on plant roots. Most often problems occur where plants are overwatered. These numerous small grey gnats observed flying around the house or near high moisture sources can be as annoying as those leftover tree needles in your carpet.
To manage these unwanted animal visitors, discard damaged plants. Allow plants to dry out somewhat or cut back on the watering schedule to reduce the moisture problem and eliminate all possible fungal growth. Yellow sticky strips may be used as traps to capture and monitor these small flying pests. A spray that contains bacteria called Bacillus thuringienses (BT) will control the larvae or maggots. Use pots of sprouted wheat to attract egg-laying adults. Also, maggots may be killed by submerging pots in hot water after 2 weeks.