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  • Author or Editor: Denise L. Olson x
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Coconut coir dust is being marketed as a soilless medium substitute for sphagnum peat moss that inhibits fungus gnat (Bradysia sp.) development. However, little information is available on the effects of coconut coir dust on Bradysia sp. In a laboratory study we examined the effect of substituting coconut coir dust for peat moss, with or without a food source, on the development of fungus gnats. An average of less than one adult emerged when 20 fungus gnat eggs were provided with pure or sterilized peat moss or coconut coir. A significantly higher number of adults (11.5-13) emerged when a food source of 1 g of yeast was added to either soilless potting medium type. The adults required up to 10 fewer days to emerge when food was provided, compared to sterilized and pure media, except for the pure peat moss. In a greenhouse study examining the effects of coir and peat at different textures and different moisture levels on fungus gnat survival, there were significant differences at the different levels of moisture. There was a higher population of larvae in the coarse medium containing peat. In the coir-based media, the fine-textured medium had the highest population level of fungus gnats. There were no significant effects on fungus gnat populations among the different levels of moisture within a medium type. However, there was a tendency for lower populations in the most moist and the driest media and the highest survival in the media that were maintained at 52.5% moisture. Plant growth was best in the media with the lowest number of fungus gnats (coarse coconut coir dust-based and fine and medium peat-based media). These results suggest that it is possible to select growing media that minimize fungus gnat populations, while optimizing plant growth. However, contrary to claims made by growing media producers, coconut coir dust does not necessarily inhibit fungus gnat development.

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