Mushroom Flies are insects measuring about 1/16 inch in length. They are dark in color, usually grayish-brown or black. If your African Violet has been infested by Mushroom Flies, you will see them swarming around the plant. In most cases, Mushroom Flies cause very little damage. Generally speaking, they are more of a nuisance than any real danger. However, since the larvae of Mushroom Flies will feed on the roots of African Violets, heavy infestations may eventually take their toll.
Mushroom Flies are grayish-brown or black in color and measure about 1/16 inch in length. They swarm whenever the leaves are disturbed. Their appearance and behavior is similar to that of Blackflies, Fungus Gnats and Sciarid Flies. If you have narrowed your diagnosis to any of these insects, do not concern yourself with making a definitive identification. The treatment for all four insects is the same. (See below.)
To treat for Mushroom Flies, use a household insect spray containing Acephate. Start by gently tapping the leaves of your Violet. As the flies swarm up, you can direct the spray away from your Violet. Next, gently spray a light mist over your Violets and into the soil in order to get any flies that remain. This will also get the young larvae. Apply as directed on the label and be careful not to spray too much. Too much Acephate may cause damage to the leaves. (Note: Many household insect sprays, which contain Acephate, also contain a specific additive that may damage the foliage of African Violets. Therefore, if available, use a soluble powder, and mix your own spray.)
As an alternative to traditional chemical treatments, you want want to try trapping the insects. This can be done by taking a narrow strip of wood, painting it with a bright color and coating it with something sticky. Your wood should be about 12 to 18 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. Paint it orange or deep yellow, then apply a generous coating of honey or molasses. According to those who use this method, the bright color attracts the insects. Once they land on the strip, the honey or molasses holds them there. To be effective, the strip must be placed among your Violets so that it is in close proximity to wherever the insects are flying.
Keep the soil around your African Violet clean of flower and leaf debris. This is where Mushroom Flies typically find shelter.
Important Note on the Use of Pesticides
Please note that almost all pesticides are formulated for specific uses and conditions. When applied incorrectly, pesticides can cause ill health or damage to plants. Therefore, when using any kind of pesticide or chemical treatment, always apply as indicated on the product label.
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