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Defeating Fungus Gnats in Your Hydroponics Indoor Garden

Beware the evil fungus gnat that hurts your hydroponics garden Beware the evil fungus gnat that hurts your hydroponics garden

Little thieves can creep into your hydroponics garden to steal the harvests you so desire. Among the most evil of these pesky criminals are fungus gnats: grayish-black flying pests that can live mostly in the hydroponics root zone, and especially in the top few inches of your root zone, even if you’re growing in rockwool or other sterile media.

Flying adult fungus gnats lay eggs that become fungus gnat larvae in your hydroponics root zone. Fungus gnat larvae are small, translucent to white in color with a distinctive black head capsule. They eat fungi and organic materials including your plants’ roots and stems. As they mature, they buzz around, and lay more eggs. They can be quite happy in your hydroponics garden unless you end their happiness!

Fungus gnats can cause your hydroponics plants to grow or mature slowly, or to have leaves that are yellowing, brown or curling. The gnats may also vector viruses or other pathogens into your plants, while weakening their immune system. Fungus gnats can even cause plant death because they’re vectors for hydroponics root zone diseases including the notorious Pythium root rot.

Not only that, when fungus gnats die, they leave behind carcasses that turn into sludge in your hydroponics root zone. This sludge feeds more fungus gnats; it can also build up as filler that impedes oxygen from entering your root zone from the top, as well as interfering with aeration, irrigation and drainage in your hydroponics root zone.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent fungus gnats from taking hold in your hydroponics garden. Your first line of defense is total perimeter control for your hydroponics garden. You want to put a pest barrier between the outside and the inside of your hydroponics garden. This includes using filters on any vents, doors or other entryways to your garden. It also includes sterilizing tools and supplies, keeping pets out of your garden, and making sure that any clone or seedling material you bring in is absolutely free of pests and diseases.

You have to look real closely at clones with a magnifying glass or microscope, as well as examine their overall health, before you decide to bring them into your hydroponics grow room. It’s unlikely that clones may vector fungus gnats, but it’s possible. More often, clones will vector whiteflies, mites, and thrips into your grow room, so be careful.

Another vector comes when you use organic potting soil that hasn’t been properly sterilized. You can prevent fungus gnats by using proper watering and feeding techniques. This is more difficult if you’re using soil as a root zone media, and/or if you’re running an organic feed program that hasn’t been properly implemented or manufactured.

In particular, many growers have had problems with Earth Juice, FoxFarm and Pure Blend “organic” products that may not have been processed or designed properly to work in your hydroponics garden. If you feed these ferts to your crops, their organic components may accumulate at the top of your root zone where they combine with overwatering to create the kind of rich, damp, organic environment that fungus gnats love.

Avoid overwatering and let your top 2-3 inches of root zone dry out in between waterings. This on its own can kill most or even all fungus gnat larvae.

To kill flying fungus gnat adults, put up those yellow sticky strips that most hydroponics growers are very familiar with (also great for attracting and trapping whiteflies).

Another strategy is to help natural breakdown of organic materials in your root zone by adding hydroponics enzymes that decompose organic matter.

By combining interdiction, killing adult gnats, and drying out the root zone, you can eliminate 99% of your fungus gnat problems without using harmful chemicals or other tactics.

Cute girl tells you how to get rid of evil gnats

Some people recommend using a hydrogen peroxide treatment, but this runs the risk of killing beneficial microbes that you want in your hydroponics root zone.

You can also ask your hydroponics store to get you Gnatrol WDG, a granulated material that uses natural means to kill fungus gnat larvae. Some hydroponics growers use a mild anti-gnat solution derived from Neem oil, although this is not as effective as Gnatrol. Check out the organic gnat control ideas in the video embedded in this article.

Do what it takes to keep fungus gnats out of your hydroponics garden, and you’ll enjoy more of the vigorous growth and larger yields that you want from your hydroponics plants.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 07:35

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