Hide this

header-growing-tips

Defeating Evil Gnats in Your Hydroponics Root Zone

Fungus gnats and shore flies are small black flies often observed in the vicinity of the growing media of greenhouse crops. Fungus gnats and shore flies are small black flies often observed in the vicinity of the growing media of greenhouse crops.

 

Most hydroponics gardeners are familiar with the usual pests that can attack your hydroponic indoor garden and turn your hydroponics plants into sick or dying plants.

These little insect criminals include thrips, whiteflies, and spider mites, but there’s an increasing hydroponics gardening problem from an upstart pest called fungus gnats.

These grayish-black little bugs are unique among hydroponics insect pests in that they live mostly in the root zone, and especially at the top of your root zone.

Why are they called fungus gnats? I guess I could say it’s obvious - they’re gnats that like to eat natural fungi that live in most root zones.

What happens is that flying adult fungus gnats lay eggs that become fungus gnat larvae in your hydroponics root zone.

The larvae eat fungi and organic materials, and they also eat your plants’ roots. As they mature, they buzz around, and they lay more eggs. Pretty soon, you’ll be seeing a thriving fungus gnat colony in your upper root zone.

Other signs of fungus gnat damage include your hydroponics plants growing or maturing slowly, their leaves are yellowing, brown or curling, and their overall vigor is reduced.

There are three biological controls for fungus gnats available. Copyright © 2005 Richard LeungThere are three biological controls for fungus gnats available. Copyright © 2005 Richard LeungI haven’t seen any fungus gnat infestations where the pests have eaten a hydroponic plant’s entire root ball, but fungus gnats can cause plant death because they’re vectors for root zone diseases including the notorious Pythium root rot.

Not only that, when fungus gnats die, they leave behind ugly little carcasses that turn into sludge in your root zone. Not only does this sludge feed more fungus gnats, it can also build up as a kind of filler that impedes oxygen from entering your root zone from the top, as well as interfering with aeration and drainage inside your hydroponics root zone.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent fungus gnats from taking hold in your hydroponics garden and to defeat them if they’ve somehow made it inside.

As with all prevention tactics, your first line of defense is total perimeter control for your hydroponics garden. It’s kind of sad to see growers investing a lot of money and time in their hydroponics plants while allowing lots of vectors so that pests, diseases and other problems can creep into their hydroponic gardens.

You want to put a wall between the outside and the inside of your garden. This can include 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 really 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.

Fungus gnat larvae are small, translucent to white in color with a distinctive black head capsule.Fungus gnat larvae are small, translucent to white in color with a distinctive black head capsule.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.

Remember- fungus gnats eat organic materials. So if you feed these inferior 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.

Fungus gnats are those little hopping bugs you see when you water your indoor plants.Fungus gnats are those little hopping bugs you see when you water your indoor plants.By combining interdiction, killing adults, and drying out the root zone, you can eliminate 99% of your fungus gnat problems without using harmful chemicals or other tactics.

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. You can also use a mild anti-gnat solution derived from Neem oil, although this is not as effective as Gnatrol.

The bottom line is that fungus gnats are a persistent problem in some hydroponics grow rooms, and although they aren’t as frequently seen, nor do they create as serious a problem as caused by mites, whiteflies or thrips, they are a sign of poor grow room hygiene and they negatively affect your hydroponics plants.

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.

© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2010



To create link towards this article on your website,
copy and paste the text below in your page.




Preview :


Powered by Rosebudmag © 2021
Follow Rosebud Magazine on Twitter Check out the Rosebud Magazine Facebook
Share this article with your friends, family and co-workers
Last modified on Saturday, 07 September 2013 01:57

Want To Grow Bigger?

 

Twitter-Button

Follow growers on Twitter

 

FacebookButtonJoin grower discussions on Facebook

 

email-icon-1Ask our expert growers questions at: experts@rosebudmag.com

Growers Underground
QuickCure
© Rosebud Magazine, 2010 - 2018 | All rights reserved.

Login or Register

LOG IN