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Q:

I have tiny dark insects that fly out of the soil of my plants. What are they and how can I get rid of them?

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Minnesota Master Gardeners say: What you are seeing are probably fungus gnats which live outdoors and occasionally come indoors . They are tiny (1/8th inch), fragile grayish to black flies with long, slender legs and thread-like antennae. They thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter and moisture. They are short lived, but can lay up to 200 to 300 eggs during one week. After laying the eggs, the adult winged gnat dies. Legless larvae, which are about 1/4 inch long, clear to creamy-white, hatch in about four days. They feed on the organic matter in the soil and then turn into pupae before becoming adults. These gnats are only a niuisance, and cause little, if any, damage to houseplants. African violets, geraniums, cyclamens and some bedding plants may be damaged by the gnat larvae feeding on root hairs of these plants when populations are high. The plants will show signs of wilting and loss of vigor. It is possible that gnat damage may weaken the plants and make them susceptible ...
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