Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Two Signs of Spring
Fungus gnats becoming common, in fact mating on the side of a flowerpot. The adults look a bit like mosquitoes, and this female will likely soon be laying eggs in the soil of this weathered clay pot. Potting soil is their natural habitat as maggots, feeding on rotting organic matter in the soil and, to my surprise, plant roots.
Yes I was not aware these gnats were more than a nuisance and could be the agents damaging some of my potted plants! Information at University of CA IPM has given me some insights into fungus gnat management. First I shall try the potato cube test to monitor for larvae. Apparently fungus gnat larvae are suckers for raw potato. After peeling a potato and cutting it into one inch cubes, I shall insert these cubes 3/8" into the soil of the pots I suspect may be infested. In a day or two I'll check for larvae (the folks at U of CA were too nice to call 'em maggots). If I need to take action to control the gnats, I'll do that, then reinsert the potato pieces (or get fresh ones) to monitor the success of my controls.
The second sure sign of spring is, no not the ground hog and his shadow or lack thereof, but fresh local grown strawberries. I shall eat some strawberries, wait several days to a week, then report back on the fungus gnat situation.