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Sciaridae or fungus gnats

Sciaridae

A widespread family of insects, which, at the moment, includes more than 1,700 species described. The larvae of sciarid can damage the roots of young plants.

 

Damage

Most of the species have larvae that live in the substrate, feed on the decomposing plant remains and do not cause significant damage to the culture. Plant-eating species of Scirad in mass accumulation can cause significant harm to young plants, damaging roots and radical areas. Plants damaged by pests lag behind in development, their leaves lose the turgor. Due to damage to the root system, the plant becomes less resistant to diseases, may be exposed to secondary infections or completely die. Cucumber (Bradysia brunnipes Mg.), Hothouse (Plastosciosa perniciosa Edv) and potato (Pnyxia scabiei Hopkins) gnats are representatives of herbivorous Sciarids and harm mainly on cucumber and ornamental crops (shenpolia, hibiscus, poinsettia, anthurium). Adult individuals do not eat, because they have an underdeveloped oral apparatus.

How to recognize

Fungus gnats have a body length of about 0.5-3 mm, a round head, long and thin legs and antennae, gray or black. In most cases, adult individuals of Cyristida are able to fly, but there are species with wingless adults. The larvae have a dark head and a translucent body, 2-10 mm in size. Large larvae are able to leave behind a slimy trace on the soil.

Личинки Сциарид

The larvae of Sciarid

 

Life cycle

Favorable factors for pest development are a wetland substrate and the presence of an excess of organic substances that decompose rapidly. The female lays up to 250 eggs in a moist substrate or in fruiting bodies of fungi. After 5-6 days, larvae appear, which begin to actively feed. After a lapse of two weeks, the larvae pupate in the soil or damaged parts of the plant. After 5 days, adult mushroom mosquitoes leave the pupae. The adult lives about a week. Years of an insect in a closed ground is observed in the period from February to March, however individual adults usually are present all year round.

Prevention and control of fungus gnat

It is almost impossible to get rid of Sciarid completely: as long as the environmental conditions allow to multiply and develop, the insect will appear again and again. Larvae of fungus gnats cannot stand the drying of the substrate. 

Agrotechnical measures

Do not use soil that contains a large amount of decomposing plant residues. In soil on certain plants that are resistant to temporary moisture deficiencies, it is possible to practice watering after drying of the upper soil layer by 2.5-5 cm. Also, to prevent and destroy existing larvae, soil is steamed before planting. Adult specimens of fungus gnats are trapped with glue traps of yellow color.

Biological control

Soil predatory mites Macrochelis robustulus and Stratiollepsis scimitus are able to control the larvae of Sciarid.