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Get Rid of Fungus Gnats in Reptile Enclosures | No Chemicals

Get Rid of Fungus Gnats in Reptile Enclosures | No Chemicals

Evict Fungus Gnats from Your Reptiles Home: Naturally

What are Fungus Gnats? 

These gnat-sized flies are attracted to moist substrate and can not only infest your enclosure, but they can be particularly annoying buzzing around your home. If you see tiny slow moving gnats when you open or disturb your enclosure - you probably have fungus gnats. 

Why Are Fungus Gnats Bad?

Thankfully, fungus gnats do not cause rapid visual damage to the plants like some other plant pests, though they can harm the root system and introduce fungal disease to the plant. The main risk with fungus gnats is their ability to fly from one enclosure to the next, which can spread diseases from one reptile to another. They are also a massive annoyance to the humans in the household with their lack of understanding for personal space and affinity for flying into drinks, up noses, and into mouths - NO THANKS!

How Do You Get Rid of Fungus Gnats?

Dry It Out!

Fungus gnat larvae cannot live in dry soil, so the cheapest and easiest option when you notice fungus gnats is to let the soil dry out. This is a great option if you have more drought tolerant plants in your enclosure. 

If drying the enclosure out is not an option, several other products can help. 

Start A Bug Battle! Unleash the Beneficial Bugs!

Nematodes are beneficial microscopic worms that prey upon pest insects and eliminate fungus gnats without harming your cleanup crew. Specifically, you’ll want to get Steinernema feltiae nematodes. 

Fight Back with Naturally Derived Products

A natural product that works to eliminate fungus gnats without harming your cleanup crew or your animals is Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) bacteria, which is sold under the common name “Mosquito Dunks”.

This product is intended to kill mosquito larvae in standing water such as ponds, puddles, and even livestock troughs.

This naturally occurring bacteria is considered a larvicide and only affects the digestive system of mosquito, blackfly, and fungus gnat larvae, causing them to stop eating and die within 2 days. 

To use Mosquito Dunks on your reptile enclosure, you can create a “tea” by putting the appropriate amount in a water jug and letting it dissolve, then using the water to water your enclosure until the fungus gnats are gone.

It is important to note that this only works on actively feeding larvae, so the mature adult flies that have already emerged from the soil will be unaffected, and thankfully poses no risk to animals that come in contact or drink water with BTI. 

Check Your House Plants!

Diatomaceous earth (also called ‘DE’) is made from fossilized diatoms and can be mixed into the soil to kill fungus gnats. Though this option can be used in enclosures, it will also unfortunately kill your cleanup crew and therefore is best used as a prevention for house plants. By using diatomaceous earth in houseplant’s soil, you reduce the chance of new house plants introducing fungus gnats to the home that could then find their way into enclosures. 

Diatomaceous earth is very sharp and works by puncturing the exoskeleton of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. The particles are very small (and sharp!) and when disturbed can cloud into the air and cause irritation to the airway when breathed in.
If you choose to use it in enclosures, mix into the substrate without your animal in the enclosure and try your best not to breathe it in. 

Knock Down the Flying Adults

Using yellow sticky boards and traps with UV light attractants and fans in your room can drastically reduce the number of adult fungus gnats flying around outside of the enclosure. The less adult animals, the less flies will be able to reproduce and create more.
Do not use sticky traps inside of enclosures so your reptile or amphibian cannot get stuck to them.


When bringing home new terrarium plants, it is best to quarantine them for 2-4 weeks to observe for signs of pests before adding to your enclosure. Fungus gnats are often easy to spot because they will take to the sky when the pot is disturbed. Check out our article on How to Quarantine New Terrarium Plants for more tips to preventing pests and other dangers that can come with new plants!

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