Did You Know?—Controlling ants, snails, slugs, and gnats

Did you know?

When my wise old grandmother got sick the first time and had to spend some time in the hospital, she thought she was going to die. She was making peace with everyone and asked me if I had anything on my mind. I did. I wanted to know why she never had problems with ants, snails, and slugs in her garden. Her answer was mulch. Very fine mulch. I use Earthgro Decorative  Groundcover Bark:

Earthgro decorative groundcover bark

Note that the description says, “A very fine-textured mulch.” This stuff also comes in larger sizes. Don’t use them for ant/snail/slug prevention purposes. Only the very fine-textured stuff. Ants don’t like crawling around on this stuff and will make a trail around it. I use it to keep ants in the garden and out of my house. Snails and slugs don’t like it because the stuff cuts their little tummies.

A problem that I always have had with my interior plants is a problem that I did not ask my wise old grandmother about. Gnats. She had so many plants inside yet never had a problem with gnats. A couple of days ago I found out why I have such a problem with gnats. Mulch & Sphagnum moss.

I don’t like the appearance of bare soil in my planters inside so I have always put mulch and sphagnum moss on the top of the soil. Wrong thing to do. Gnats love to get between the soil and the mulch or moss and set up little communities. I think the only creature that breeds more than rabbits is the gnat.

I now have experiential evidence that mulch and moss, indeed, were the culprits. My planters that had mulch and moss were full of gnats. The planters that I recently had planted flora in and had only bare soil did not. But bare soil inside still looks bad. Enter decorative pebbles and rocks, what the cactus & succulent society calls “top dressing.” Turns out that the little gnats can’t get between the heavy pebbles and rocks to set up little communities beneath them.

After dealing with hundreds of gnats each day after moving into our new home, on Friday I replaced all the mulch and moss in all my interior planters with decorative pebbles and rocks. Here are a few pictures:

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

The result? One gnat, and that was about 9:00 Saturday morning. The average lifespan of a gnat is seven days, and the maximum lifespan thirty days. I used insecticidal soap on the top of the soil before apply the top dressing, so between that and the top dressing, I’m not expecting to see any more gnats in our home. Yahoooooooooooooooo!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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13 thoughts on “Did You Know?—Controlling ants, snails, slugs, and gnats

  1. acflory

    I think the rocks look great too. I’m not a huge fan of mulch because it burns, but I’m trialing finely cut lucerne chaff around a few of my favourite plants. I’m hoping it’ll stay reasonably moist as well as keeping the moisture in during the summer heat. I did try pebbles in the garden, but the small ones just got mixed in with the soil when I pulled the weeds [yes, the weeds still came through] while the big ones kept the ground a bit too dry. -sigh- No easy answers.

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          It’s the only way to keep weeds at bay because if they root in soil under the rocks, the rocks make it very difficult to get the weeds out. However, their poor little roots can’t get through the weed cloth so they can’t get a good foothold. Thus, if they do pop up, they are easy smeasy to pull.

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