Fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.) are major insect pests in greenhouses. The adult stage is primarily a nuisance whereas the larval stage is directly responsible for plant injury by feeding on plant roots or tunneling into stems. Insecticides are used to deal with fungus gnat larvae in growing medium, although sometimes with limited success. This study evaluated the potential of using a soil amendment—diatomaceous earth (DE) incorporated into growing media—for controlling the fungus gnat Bradysia sp. nr. coprophila. Two experiments were conducted by testing a series of growing media containing various concentrations of diatomaceous earth, and several without diatomaceous earth. The effects of the growing media containing diatomaceous earth on both the 2nd and 3rd instars of fungus gnat larvae were determined by recording the number of adults captured on yellow sticky cards (2.5 × 2.5 cm). Based on the results obtained from both experiments, the addition of DE to growing medium, at the concentrations tested, did not negatively affect or increase efficacy against both the 2nd and 3rd instars. This suggests that incorporating DE into commercially available growing medium may not be beneficial to greenhouse producers. However, further research is needed to assess whether differential larval susceptibility and moisture content influence the ability of DE to control soil-dwelling arthropods.
Assistant Professor, To whom correspondence should be addressed; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.