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I've been battling fungus gnats lately and thought I was catching up with them. Today I ran my fingers through my media and discovered hordes of tiny white bugs. When I first uncover them they move quickly almost like jumping for cover. I have 2 GBs One is full of them the other few or none that I can see. Check out the pic and videos. Any ideas what they are and how to get rid of them?

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This winter one of my systems was invaded by fungus gnats. I applied beneficial nematodes to the gravel bed and hung sticky tape in a few locations. I also used a spray bottle containing my aquaponics water on the plant leaves and a hand held vacuum to suck up any of the flyers. As I said, it was a bad infestation.

The bugs are completely under control now and fortunately all my plants recovered. My experience is with home based systems using permaculture principles. If you are dealing with a large commercial facility, I would think this is too much work. I understand there are several solution solutions available (see what I did there). I have never tried any organic spray controls. I do not know how they would impact the fish and plants, so I can’t personally recommend any.

I was planning on testing a homemade fan trap like you would make for mosquitoes. But as I said the problem is under control and has not come back. To make a fan trap, you use a standard box fan and attach a mesh screen onto the back of it with magnets. Turn it on. The bugs get sucked into the mesh. Collect them, stick them in the freezer, and feed them to your fish. You have turned a problem into free fish food and you used no chemicals in the process.

I would love an update when you tackle the bug problem. Let me know if you try the fan. I almost want to release some bugs to test it myself.

Thanks for sharing.

Like this?

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/springtails/img/fo...

These are springtails. They feed on decaying organic matter and they're harmless.

You mentioned a fungus gnat problem. I assumed you were finding fungus gnat larvae http://www.pbase.com/splluk/image/122126834.

This is why I suggested nematodes. (Steinernema feltiae)

If you have Springtails in your system, you have discovered an excellent supplemental food for top feeding fish as well as small frogs and reptiles. They consume mold and fungus so they are useful system cleaners.

They are typically cultured on charcoal or coconut coir. I may try culturing some in a gravel bed thanks to your post. Springtails are regularly sold as a Dart Frog diet supplement. Find a local pet store or club. They may be interested in buying some from you.    

Keep me informed I would love to hear about your progress.

Alex and John,

Thanks for your input. I can't for sure say Springtails are what I'm seeing. I can only hope. The pics you sent they look like caterpillars and what I have seem to jump and hide a lot. Not sure if a caterpillar  type but would jump. The other odd ting is they are only showing up in one of my beds.

John, will those nematodes eat the Springtails if that's what they are? Wouldn't want to eliminate them if they are useful.

I wouldn't say they are particularly useful; just not harmful. 

Try posting a picture if you can so we can get a look.

Hi Jeff,

That is a great question. I have not personally seen nematodes recommended by anyone for Springtail control. The popular method of beneficial insect control for Springtails has been Rove Beetle (Dalotia coriaria, Atheta coriaria) and Fungus Gnat Predator (Stratiolaelaps scimitus, Hypoaspis miles). I have reached out to an expert to be 100 % sure they will be safe, but I have not heard back from them.

I will be conducting my own experiments this spring so I will have some personal experience if the information isn’t available elsewhere. Either way I will let you know what I find out.

I decided that no matter what they are there are too many of them so I flooded the bed and scooped out most of them. Turns out it wasn't that hard once I removed the recently planted seedlings. They were also starting to gather up on the plants. Check out the flooded pics. If you zoom on them you can get a good look at the bugs.

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Update:  I flooded the bed several times Saturday and scooped out as many bugs as I could. Yesterday I flooded it again and scooped out some more. Today I flooded it and there were no bugs. Looks like it worked. Also the fish really seemed to like them.

Those are definitely springtails, so rest easy. That said, there sure were a TON of them....hopefully the fish enjoyed their snack ;)

We are having a similar problem with fungus gnats in our indoor aquaponics system. Have added mosquito dunks with limited success. Will add the Steinernema Felita nematodes today. We are hopeful this will help.



John Stevenson said:

This winter one of my systems was invaded by fungus gnats. I applied beneficial nematodes to the gravel bed and hung sticky tape in a few locations. I also used a spray bottle containing my aquaponics water on the plant leaves and a hand held vacuum to suck up any of the flyers. As I said, it was a bad infestation.

The bugs are completely under control now and fortunately all my plants recovered. My experience is with home based systems using permaculture principles. If you are dealing with a large commercial facility, I would think this is too much work. I understand there are several solution solutions available (see what I did there). I have never tried any organic spray controls. I do not know how they would impact the fish and plants, so I can’t personally recommend any.

I was planning on testing a homemade fan trap like you would make for mosquitoes. But as I said the problem is under control and has not come back. To make a fan trap, you use a standard box fan and attach a mesh screen onto the back of it with magnets. Turn it on. The bugs get sucked into the mesh. Collect them, stick them in the freezer, and feed them to your fish. You have turned a problem into free fish food and you used no chemicals in the process.

I would love an update when you tackle the bug problem. Let me know if you try the fan. I almost want to release some bugs to test it myself.

Thanks for sharing.

OK new year same problem but this time I'm on top of the fungus knats. Hopefully I won't have the white bug infestation again. Vacuuming up the fliers and soap spraying the plants. 

Fan working somewhat , dunks helped a little, nematodes did the trick. After 2 days almost no gnats!

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