Fungus Gnat

Mycetophila (genus)

There are many species in this genus. They are very difficult to tell apart.

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Fungus Gnats are tiny flies which look a lot like mosquitos, only much smaller. Fungus Gnats usually grow to about 1/8 inch. Some of larger ones can grow up to 1/4 inch. Their bodies are brown or gray or yellowish, depending on the species. They all have one pair of clear wings and a hairy thorax (middle body section).

Fungus Gnats live in moist, dark woods.

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Some adult Fungus Gnats feed on flower nectar, but these insects do most of their eating as larvae.

Fungus Gnat larvae (young Fungus Gnats) eat fungi, decaying wood, and wet plant material.

Copyright, Ari Kornfeld

Copyright, Ari Kornfeld

Adult Fungus Gnats are active in the Summer. After mating, female gnats lay eggs on fungus or other food materials.

Larvae hatch from the eggs. Fungus Gnat larvae look a lot like maggots (fly larvae) with small black heads. They immediately burrow into the mushroom or other food source they were born on.

Larvae eat the insides of the mushroom for about two weeks. Then they crawl out of the food and find a place to become pupae (resting stage, like a coccoon). Adult Fungus Gnats will come out of their pupae if the weather is warm. Otherwise, they will wait until the next Summer.

Fungus Gnats have the same predators other small flies have, such as spiders, salamanders, frogs, toads, birds, bats, and beetles.

Fungus Gnats help mushrooms too. When a gnat climbs around a mushroom's gills, spores stick to its body. Spores are like seeds on a plant. When they get spread around they can grow new fungi. Fungus Gnats carry spores to new places.

Fungus Gnats are not the gnats that bother people in the Summer. Those are different kinds of gnats.

Relationships in Nature:

FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Honey Mushroom

Common Black Ground Beetle

Honey Mushroom

Honey Mushroom D

Meadow Mushroom

Big Brown Bat

Meadow Mushroom

Meadow Mushroom D

Jack O'Lantern

Red-backed Salamander

Jack O'Lantern

Jack O'Lantern D

Crowded Parchment

American Toad

Crowded Parchment

Crowded Parchment D

Turkey Tail

Spring Peeper

Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail D

Elegant Stinkhorn

Garden Centipede

Elegant Stinkhorn

Elegant Stinkhorn D

Pear-shaped Puffball

Rabid Wolf Spider

Pear-shaped Puffball

Death Cap D

Red Clover

Daring Jumping Spider

Death Cap

Mossy Maple Polypore D

Common Milkweed

Wood Frog

Mossy Maple Polypore

Oyster Mushroom D

Death Cap

Marbled Salamander

Oyster Mushroom

Artist's Conk D

Mossy Maple Polypore

Spring Peeper

Artist's Conk

Oyster Mushroom

Black and Yellow Argiope

Artist's Conk

Ebony Jewelwing

Three-lined Salamander

CommonWater Strider

Common Whitetail

Spined Micrathena

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Relationship to Humans:

Fungus Gnats do not bother people like other gnats do. They can be a pest in greenhouses because they get in the soil and eat fungi and moist plant matter. They are important for eating and breaking down fungi and as a food source for other animals.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Arthropod
CLASS
Insect
ORDER
Diptera
FAMILY
Mycetophilidae
GENUS
Mycetophila
SPECIES
Mycetophila (many different species)

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