What Essential Oils Kill Fungus Gnats?

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Find out what essential oils kill Fungus Gnats. Imagine waking up in the morning, reaching for your freshly brewed pot of coffee, and realizing that you’ve been swatting at annoying little flying bugs (usually called “fungus gnats”) in your kitchen or around your indoor plants.

Personally, that would be enough for me to start my day on a bad note. However, learning from my experiences, I’m here to help you find an answer to what essential oils kill fungus gnats?

What are fungus gnats?

Fungus gnats are tiny, short-lived flies that live in the soil or in garbage. These gnats feed on decaying organic matter and can quickly reproduce if they find a suitable place to lay their eggs.

Fungus gnats can cause damage to plants by spreading plant diseases and destroying crops. They can even cause damage by feeding on plants and sapping their nutrients, leading to death or stunted growth.

what essential oils kill fungus gnats

Even though most people might confuse a fungus gnat with a fruit fly, you will know better than to do that after reading this article. The fact is that fungus gnats are different from fruit flies in various aspects, including their biology, reproduction, and feeding habits.

You will find that fungus gnat, despite having the ability to fly, will only do so in short bursts. For the rest of the time, you will find them walking on the surfaces they can find.

They can be found in damp or moist places like compost bins, greenhouses, and bathrooms. However, it is important to note that they do not breed abundantly like other flies.

But, before we get into that, remember for now that fungus gnats are attracted to the warm, moist environment of your house.

Fungus gnats can be eliminated with essential oils like lavender oil or cinnamon oil, to name a couple, because these oils emit a smell that is repellent for fungus gnat larvae and the gnats themselves!

The Lifecycle of a fungus gnat

A fungus gnat lays eggs in the top couple inches of soil. The typical life cycle of a fungus gnat is one to five weeks.

They have a lifecycle with four stages: breeding, larvae, pupae, and adults. The larva is the stage that poses the biggest threat to human health because it’s what causes fungus gnat population growth on plants or other surfaces like walls.

Fungus Gnat

They breed larvae and then pupate into adults that fly in short bursts before crawling on surfaces where they can lay eggs again. The eggs, after hatching, create larvae that derive their sustenance from the soil that they are in for about two weeks.

The next stage is that of pupation. After forming a pupa, adults will emerge from it in roughly two days and continue the cycle of breeding and feeding.

Are fungus gnats dangerous to Humans?

No, fungus gnats are not particularly dangerous to human beings. Rather, fungus gnats don’t even bite or spread human diseases, apart from being extremely annoying insects to deal with.

Therefore, if you find fungus gnats lurking around your house, you just need to worry about disposing of your garbage properly and taking care that your house plants stay healthy.

Are fungus gnats dangerous to your indoor plants?

The fungus gnats are usually seen in moist areas of your garden, such as the soil. They are small flies that feed on organic matter and do not typically harm plants. However, their presence might affect the growth of your plants.

Succulents, Hands, Pot, Potted Plants

These bugs carry the spores of Pythium, a type of parasitic mold, on their bodies, allowing them to kill young seedlings as soon as they germinate. Further, the larvae in the soil might eat through the tiny roots of young plants. But, as I said, this is not really enough to kill or drastically damage your plants.

Some species of fungus gnats only cause damage to a few types of mushrooms. That being said, I’d suggest you take measures to repel these bugs as soon as you spot them. Even though they don’t damage your plant drastically, they affect their growth a little.

The most common sign of a fungus gnats situation that I observed in my plants is the larvae being stuck on the underside of leaves or stems. Fungus gnats also congregate in dark areas and typically fly from one plant to another.

How can you recognize fungus gnats?

Fungus gnats are often hard to detect because of their tiny size. However, they can be identified by the dark brown or black spots on their wings.

Fungus gnats are less likely to find your home as a suitable breeding ground because they’re more interested in breeding in areas that have decomposing organic matter readily available.

The blackhead and thorax can identify them with brownish wings compared to other insects with transparent bodies, yellow legs, and red eyes. Fungus gnats reproduce quickly, so you’ll want to control their population before it gets out of hand.

Fruit Fly, Fly, Insect, Animal

I have made the mistake of assuming fungus gnats to be fruit flies, but I can assure you that these two insects are different from one another.

If you want to be sure that the gnats are fungus gnats and not fruit flies, just look at their legs. Fungus gnat larvae have longer legs than fruit fly larvae do. The wings of a fungus fly also tend to stick out more than those of a fruit fly’s, and they’re thinner as well.

Another classic way of understanding whether the insect in front of you is a fungus gnat and not a fruit fly is to watch for a flying pattern that only appears in short bursts.

How Do Essential Oils Help Repel or Kill Fungus Gnats Lurking Around Your Houseplants?

The basic principle behind using essential oils to repel or kill fungus gnats is that their smell is extremely harmful and uncomfortable for the bugs. Typically, inhaling the scent of most essential oils will irritate a fungus gnat’s eyes, throat and will even leave them suffocating.

Therefore, most gnats will simply fly away if they can smell even a whiff of such essential oils. In the next section, I have listed the most potent essential oils you can use to repel or kill fungus gnats in your home or around your plants!

What Essential Oils Kill Fungus Gnats?

There are some specific essential oils that you can use to either repel or even kill fungus gnats.

Essentia oils

Tea tree essential oil

Tea tree oil is antiseptic and anti-bacterial. But along with that, tea tree oil also kills gnats by suffocating them. To use it as an effective anti-gnat spray, put 10 to 15 drops of tea tree oil into a bottle with a spray lid with water, shake well then spray on the desired area.

Peppermint essential oil

The most popular essential oil for gnat repellents is peppermint. The reason is that the active ingredient in this oil is peppermint. It has a very strong smell that gnats can’t stay around.

Rosemary essential oil

Rosemary essential oil can be used to keep fungus gnats away. It is a powerful insect repellent, and it has been shown to work well in this capacity, especially when mixed with cedarwood or thyme.

Geranium essential oil

Because of its strong odor, a geranium essential oil is also quite effective at driving fungus gnats away from your plants. While it may not be very effective at killing fungus gnats, it will still keep your plants and your home clear of these bugs.

Cedarwood essential oil

Cedarwood essential oil is also a fantastic oil that you can use as a fungus gnat repellant.

Neem essential oil

Neem essential oil is a natural bug repellant that you can apply to both the skin and in an enclosed area. It has a fresh smell and bitterness, which are deterrents for gnats.

Eucalyptus essential oil

Like neem, eucalyptus essential oils also work very well in killing and repelling fungus gnats.

Why am I getting so many gnats in my house?

Gnats are one of the most common pests found in homes. Therefore, you need not be worried if you find one or two or even a few of these flies lingering around your home.

There are many types of gnats, but the ones typically seen inside houses are attracted to unsealed produce, fresh flowers, houseplants, and food spillage.

The most common places to find gnats are in your kitchen sink and any old food spoilage. If there is a lot of rotting produce or something else, they will breed quickly to create more gnat colonies.

To get rid of these gnat colonies effectively, you should seal up your produce and make sure to cover your flower pots with something so they don’t become food for these unwanted insects

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.