Fungus gnats hovering around a person's head.

Asked July 26, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT

I had two houseplants infested with fungus gnats. After putting all plants outside, there were about 50 of these hanging around the ceilings. I vacuumed them up, put two samples on a microscope and confirmed they are fungus gnats (from an online diagram).

The problem is that a few of these are hovering around my son's head and driving him crazy. We've tried lice treatment to no avail. We can call an exterminator, but I don't see many of the gnats around, and I don't know that they can help with my son's issue. Can you help or refer me?

Worcester County Massachusetts

2 Responses


Fungus gnats lay eggs in moist organic rich soils; thus why they were in the pots with houseplants. Taking houseplants outside and allowing them to 'dry down' so they are not as moist/wet will help lower their populations. In situations where plants are overwatered or there is standing water, fungus gnats may be a problem. Adults will fly near faces (ears, nose, mouth, eyes) when people get close to where the adult gnats are resting. Reducing water to plants' soil helps reduce the gnat numbers. An option for you might be, to get a couple 'yellow sticky cards' from a garden center, 'box store', or online and place near plants. Fungus gnats are attracted to these and become stuck. Another option may be a potato cut in half with the cut sections face down in the potting mix. These may attract the larva of the gnats and then you can remove the potato and gnats together. They generally do not fly around faces much (may very depending on gnat species). The other option is to collect some and bring them into your nearest cooperative extension office for identification by an entomologist. They will most likely have more substantial recommendations than what is above. Each state has a number of extension offices and you only need to go online and search cooperative extension office and your state's name to find the one nearest you (most of the time). Hope this helps. Good Luck!

Thank you for your help. Your suggestions are what we did, plus my son used medicated body powder with eucalyptus oil and this seemed to keep them away until they died off.