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Facebook Premiere on Household Insects

November 20, 2020 

Questions & Answers

Q. What about spider mites—any natural/organic ways to rid our outdoor living space of these?

A. Spider mites are difficult to control because the most common spider mite pest, the twospotted spider mite, feeds on thousands of different kinds of plants. Spider mite problems can be prevented by pulling common weeds that you see them on, especially clover. Remember that if you spray an herbicide, the weeds will die, but the spider mites will still be around and move onto nearby plants. There are some organic insecticidal soaps that can help control mites, but they are pretty hardy and this doesn't always work. There are also predatory mites that you can buy that will eat spider mites! Consult with an extension professional or the sales representative about the predator mite species that is most likely to do well in your area.

Q. Should mothballs be used inside the house and are they useful?

A. They can be useful in closed containers that contain items that are important to protect. This entomologist actually uses them to protect her insect collection from the kinds of insects that eat dead insects. However, this product is an insecticide and should be used with care for the safety of our family and pets. Carefully follow the directions on the container and ask an extension specialist if you are uncertain about how to use a specific product.

Q. What can I do to get rid of gnats?

A. I am assuming this is a gnat problem indoors. Juvenile gnats (small larvae) live in damp areas, primarily in potting soil. They also thrive in rotting/damp plant matter. First, confirm that you have eliminated potential sources of gnats in your home and are not overwatering your indoor plants. Make sure your pots are draining well and consider switching potting material something that promotes drainage. A severe problem will frequently go away in a few days if just a single potted plant was acting as the source of the gnats and the plant is removed from the home. A few gnats in the home are unfortunately just par for the course with having indoor plants, but fortunately are not harmful to you or your home.

In greenhouses, fungus gnats can be controlled with natural enemies, such as insect-eating nematodes, predatory mites, and small beetles. These predators eat the juvenile gnats in the soil.


Additional information:

Don't like stink bugs? Check out our video "Luring Stink Bugs to Their Doom