06 Jul

Carnivorous Plant Pesticide & Fungicide


What do you do when one of your carnivorous plants has a pest or fungus problem and neem or other natural  pesticides or fungicides aren’t cutting it?

Obviously something needs to be done or you run the risk of losing the plant or infecting others in your collection.

The first and most important thing to do is isolate the infected plant(s) from the healthy ones. Then, treat the pests or fungus. We recommend using one of the sprays below and have found them safe to use on several types of carnivorous plants noted at the end of this article.


Active Ingredients

The active ingredients in both of these sprays are Tau-fluvalinate, Imidacloprid, and Tebuconazole.

Tau-fluvalinate is a contact killer for pests. It works fast to stop the immediate damage.

Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide meaning the plant will absorb the insecticide through its tissue and roots. If a pest takes a bite out of the treated plant, it will also ingest the pesticide.

Tebuconazole is a systemic fungicide. It works by inhibiting fungal growth and spore distribution, slowing the spread of the disease.


Which spray should I use?

The only difference between the two sprays above is the concentration of active ingredients. The “Ready-To-Use” version is just that; it can be applied to carnivorous plants immediately. The “Ready-To-Spray” version on the other hand is designed for hose attachment for large areas and is more concentrated. Using a hose to douse all your plants probably isn’t the best idea, but the concentrate can be economical if you have several to treat. All you need to do is dilute it to equal the concentration of the “Ready-To-Use” spray by figuring out the ratios.

Active ingredient percentages listed on each bottle:


midacloprid………… 0.012%
Tau-Fluvalinate…….. 0.014%
Tebuconazole……….. 0.015%

Ready-To-Spray (concentrate)

Imidacloprid …………..0.47%
Tau-Fluvalinate ……… 0.61%
Tebuconazole ………… 0.65%

For these percentages, a ratio of 14mls of concentrate mixed with 650mls of distilled water is comparable to the Ready-To-Use formula. Tada! Now you can have gallons of spray at a fraction of the cost.



What types of carnivorous plants are safe to treat?

We’ve tested this spray on several types of pitcher plants, specifically heliamphora, cephalotus, nepenthes, and sarracenia.  It is safe to use on most flytraps and some sundews as well. The rule for all of these plants though is to keep the spray away from the trap portions of the plants (i.e. the dewy portions of sundew and inside pitchers). These areas of the plants are often more sensitive and absorbent and so will be more prone to burning. Try to focus the spray on the crowns, leaves, and growth points of plants as well as the soil around them. Pests and fungal infections tend to target these areas the most anyway.

Where To Spray Pesticides and Fungicides

Drosera falconeri, Dionaea muscipula, and Nepenthes ventricosa respectively

Follow the package instructions on how much of the spray to use and when. This particular one can provide protection for around 30 days depending on what you’re treating and whether the plant is indoors in a tray or outdoors and flushed with rain.


Some Notes of Caution

  • Even though we have used this spray on several types of carnivorous plants, it’s always good to test it on your own plants as well.  Treat a small portion of the plant and see how it reacts or only treat a single plant if you have more than one before spraying the whole batch.
  • This is a poison so please don’t taste the dew on your capensis after treating them. Be honest, we’ve all tried at one point. 😛
  • This is a chemical pesticide so if your plants live outdoors, please remember to save the bees!



What about you?

Do you have a tried and true pesticide and fungicide that you use? What plants have you tested it on?  Please tell us in the comments!

12 Oct

Neem Oil – Organic Pesticidal Spray & Soil Drench

Neem Oil

Neem Oil is extracted from Neem trees and contains a compound called Azadirachtin that is useful for fighting common plant pests such as fungus gnat larvae, spider mites, and grasshoppers (see larger list below). Once Azadirachtin has been ingested by pests, it acts as an appetite suppressor and growth inhibitor causing failure to molt and starvation.

Used as a soil drench, Neem Oil acts as an systemic pesticide, meaning the plant will absorb the Azadirachtin compound and distribute it throughout its vascular system.  Once distributed, any part of a treated plant a pest ingests will also contain the Azadirachtin.


Aphids feeding on the juices of a plant stem.

Used as a foliar spray, the same principals of ingestion by insects still apply but primarily the Neem will act as a physical inhibitor to the insects by coating their bodies in the oil. By coating their bodies, the insect’s spiracles or “nostrils” become blocked and the insect suffocates.

Plant Pests Controlled with Neem:

Mealy bug


Cabbage worms




Fungus gnats


Locust (Grasshoppers)


Japanese beetle


Why Make Your Own?

The main reason we started making homemade Neem Oil spray is that most store-bought Neem sprays contain low levels of Azadirachtin, the primary ingredient responsible for pest control. Azadirachtin naturally degrades over time and can degrade within days if left at room temperature. Since most store-bought sprays sit at room temperature for several days or months before purchase, this can reduce the effectiveness by the time the product is used. Excessive heat exposure can also reduce effectiveness by breaking down the compound which is why it is important to buy Cold Pressed Neem Oil.

How to Make and Use Neem Spray

This is the recipe we use to help fight against fungus gnats and white and red spider mites in our nursery. This recipe is safe to use on plants but always test a small area before treating an entire plant or tray of seedlings.

Neem IngredientsNeem Oil Spray Recipe:

  • 1 liter of warm water.
  • 3-5ml Cold Pressed Neem Oil (use 3ml for preventative treatments and 5ml for infestations).
  • 3ml dawn dish soap (or other biodegradable soap) – this acts as an emulsifier which helps distribute the oil in the water. DO NOT include soap if using this spray for carnivorous plants.

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and shake to combine. Apply as a foliar spray and soil drench every 3 weeks for prevention or every week for infestations. Shake the bottle often while applying to keep the oil distributed in the mixture.

Between mixing batches, remaining undiluted Neem Oil can be refrigerated for up to a year to slow the rate at which the Azadirachtin degrades.

A Note of Caution

CautionEach plant species can react differently to various pesticide formulas. If using Neem Oil as a foliar spray, test a single leaf before applying the spray to the whole plant to mitigate the risk of losing the plant if it responds poorly to the treatment. If using Neem as a soil drench, reduce the formula strength for the first treatment or only drench a single plant (if you have multiples of the same species) and see how the plant responds before increasing the concentration.


Bond, C.; Buhl, K.; Stone, D. 2012. Neem Oil General Fact Sheet; National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University Extension Services.
Pesticide Information Profile: Azadirachtin, Cornell University.
Murray B. Isman “Botanical Insecticides, Deterrents, And Repellents In Modern Agriculture And An Increasingly Regulated World” Annual Review Of Entomology Volume 51, pp. 45-66.
Effect of Emulsion Size and Shelf Life of Azadirachtin A on the Bioefficacy of Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) Emulsifiable Concentrates by Lalit Kumar and Balraj S. Parmar, Division of Agricultural Chemicals, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi 110012, India. J. Published July 12, 2000. Copyright © 2000 American Chemical Society.
04 Oct

Fungus Gnat Control

Adult Fungus Gnat

Fungus Gnats are a common pest that often plague indoor plants. They are small and dark in color and can often be seen flying near the surface of damp potting soil. They are also drawn to the CO2 you breathe out which is why they have a habit of always flying around your face.

Although they can be pesky, adult Fungus Gnats aren’t harmful to plants. While in their juvenile stage though, the larvae can cause severe damage. Fungus Gnats like to lay their eggs in the damp soil of potted plants and once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the fungi, organic matter in the soil, and your plant’s roots. Plants damaged by Fungus Gnat larvae may become unhealthy and slow their growth, become yellow, or wilt.

Fungus Gnat Prevention

There are many ways to combat Fungus Gnats, the best of which is to prevent them in the first place. Preventative measures include:

  1. Allowing the top two inches of soil to dry out in between watering. This makes the soil unattractive to adult gnats looking for a place to lay eggs.
  2. Ensuring there is adequate airflow around plants to discourage fungal growth. Again, this creates an unattractive location for eggs.
  3.  Isolating infested containers to keep uncontaminated plants from becoming infested.
An adult Fungus Gnat preparing to lay eggs in damp soil

An adult Fungus Gnat preparing to lay eggs in damp soil

How to Fight an Infestation

You are probably here though because the situation is beyond prevention. You’ve already seen gnats and maybe even the larvae crawling around in the soil. Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of Fungus Gnats if you discover an infestation.

Physical removal

Fungus Gnat Larvae

Fungus Gnat Larvae

The fastest way to take care of an infestation is to replace the soil in the pot. Remove the plant from the pot and discard the contaminated soil outdoors. Rinse the roots and container with a clean stream of water to knock off remaining larvae that may be still attached. Also kill any adult gnats in the area. After removing all of the contaminated soil and clearing the area of adult gnats, repot the plant with fresh soil and then follow ongoing preventative measures.

Natural Pesticides

If repotting isn’t an option, natural pesticides are another way to manage infestations. In order to fight them more effectively though, we need to better understand the life cycle of the Fungus Gnat.

Life Cycle of a Fungus Gnat

Adult female Fungus Gnats live about 7 days and can lay up to 1,000 eggs during their lifespan. Once the eggs are laid, they will hatch in 4-6 days. Once hatched, the larvae begin tunneling through the soil in search of food and damaging plant roots by feeding on them. The larvae stage lasts 10-14 days. Once the larvae are old enough, they spin a cocoon in the soil and enter the pupa stage which lasts 4-7 days. At the end of the pupa stage, the adult exits the cocoon, begins mating and laying eggs soon after and the cycle starts over. A full cycle takes 25-34 days to complete.

Life Cycle of a Fungus Gnat

Life Cycle of a Fungus Gnat

From this breakdown of the life cycle, we can see that it becomes more effective to treat an infestation from multiple angles. Adult Gnats can be controlled with any standard insecticidal spray (or physically removed with a vacuum), while larvae can be treated with systemic soil drenches such as Cold Pressed Neem Oil or a very effective product called Gnatrol which specifically targets Fungus Gnat larvae.

The key to successfully eliminating the infestation is apply each form of treatment at least once a week for 1-2 full life cycles of the gnat. This timing totals to around 2 months of treatment. The frequency ensures larvae are killed even if they haven’t hatched during the first couple of treatments and gives any stubborn larvae extra pesticide doses. Consistently spraying or vacuuming up the adults catches any that were in the pupa stage during larvae treatments and prevents them from laying more eggs. With a little persistence, the cycle will be broken and the Fungus Gnat infestation eliminated.

Source: Fungus Gnats by G.R. Nielsen, Former Extension Entomologist, Plant and Soil Science Department