Fruit Flies in My Potted Strawberry Plants

mzkitteJune 4, 2009

Im looking for any suggestions for safely getting rid of fruit flies and their eggs/larvae from my potted strawberry plants. There must be 100's of them the flying all over when I touch the leaves, i look at the soil & i suspect that they are breeding there, they are crawling all over. I tried the dish soap solution in a cup & so far drowned maybe 20 but I dont know what to do with the soil without harming the fruits themselves. Please note, my plants are young, there are no strawberries just yet but they are super close to producing :) i just need to get rid of those pests!

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Fruit flies are attracted to fruit, so what you probably have are whiteflies, which do hatch out of the soil. Whiteflies are common pests of greenhouse and indoor plants, or those grown in sheltered locations. They will usually die out if plants are placed outdoors in direct sunlight, which warms the soil and makes the environment uncomfortable for them. Drowning them individually is an impossible task, but they should be sensitive to insecticidal soaps commonly sold at greenhouses and bigbox stores. Spraying the plants with dish soap could also help, but is not likely to cure an infestation.

I don't mean to discourage you, but those photos do no show plants that are super-close to producing, though the situation may have changed since you took the photos. Strawberries are preceded by buds, then blossoms, and the whole process takes several weeks. I don't even see buds yet, and most strawberry varieties would be producing by this time of year. The leaves look nice and green, but you may have to place your pots in stronger sunlight to get these plants to produce fruit.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 1:25AM
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As Don said, but also if using nitrogen, stop! On second thought, if no flower buds yet; just make sure they get enough light and get them as big as possible for next year.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 2:44AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'd suspect fungus gnats over whiteflies. Are they pure white insects, almost resembling tiny white moths....or dark colored?

With a little more information, we can steer you in the right direction for proper control (of whatever you have). I'm betting on the fungus gnats.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 10:29AM
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You may be right that the insects are fungus gnats. But white or dark, the recipe for getting rid of them is the same. Get the pots into full sunlight and use an effective insecticide, which may be chemical or "organic". At this point, you could use just about anything, as the plants are not close to fruiting.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 11:30AM
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I'm betting they're fungus gnats. I don't think you need any insecticide to kill them. They breed in soil that is too wet. Let it dry out a little more between waterings to destroy their habitat.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 2:30PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

My concern is that our original poster claimed to have a very large population of them, which might mean that some intervention is called for. The larvae can begin to damage plant roots if the population is too high.

Allowing the soil to dry out properly in between waterings will be helpful but may not get rid of those darned things, which can be so persistent in potting mixes. I'd probably get out the Gnatrol and use it whenever it was watering time. A solution that has been soaking with a bit of mosquito dunk will do the same thing.

Next year, cut the potting mix with a large percentage of perlite and/or bark fines and you'll create an improved medium that won't support fungus gnats.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 2:45PM
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I think I am having this problem too. I bought some strawberry plants at the farmer's market about a month ago. I've been watering them about once a week. One was a little brown around the edges of a leaf, then it started to look brown around the base of the plant. Then I noticed a couple little flies buzzing around yesterday - tiny, gnat-sized flies. I also noticed the little flowers that were on one of the plants have darkened and withered. Today there are two-three times as many flies. I want to get rid of them!

I am such a novice ... I do not understand all the things you guys have said here - mosquito dunk? gnatrol? I was planning to repot these guys this weekend, but now I am afraid all is lost (although the leaves still look mostly decent, like the picture above). I don't even know where to start! Is Palmolive an acceptable dish soap to spray them with? How much would I put into how much water?

I am a very capable person, but I have never successfully maintained a plant for longer than a few months and I am intimidated - but determined to figure it out!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 2:04PM
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I bought about 7 herb plants for an indoor garden in an aquerium and had an infestation in less than a week, then I bought several palm trees for around my apartment and soon had the infestation everywhere!!! THOUSANDS OF THEM, dark gnats. The only thing in common was the miracle gro potting soil, organic. It came from 3 different bags but every single one of my plants are infested!!! I've tried the dish soap, all it did was give the soil a whitish grey shell over it so I could see the gnats better in the soil! I tried the cup of vinegar and not one drowned it it, then I used my head and put a glass of white wine in the tank and a week later I had 12 dead gnats. I used the yellow sticky thing hung in the tank and it is coated in black, THOUSANDS of dead gnats but I thing as many hatched that day or something because it didn't even make a dent!!!! I've heard some things about the Miracle Gro and will re-pot them ASAP!!!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:44AM
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