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Old 01-02-2009, 05:09 PM
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Tiny flies harmful?

I grow chids in my dining room and in our study near large sliding doubled panned glass doors (that are not opened since it is a very cold winter here). I've noticed that one of my Catts and one new Paph have a few tiny flies in the bark that occasionally fly around the plant when I water it. They don't appear to be doing any harm (??) They look a bit like fruit flies (very small, all black with black wings) and are too fast for me to photograph. They also were in the potting mixture for my amyrallis bulbs (but I think I zapped them in this by putting the plants on the porch for about an hr in our freezing weather). Obviously can't do this with the Catt. Any ideas if I should try to get rid of them and if so, how? Or can we just peacefully co exist?
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Old 01-02-2009, 05:31 PM
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I don't think they are harmful to your plants but they are annoying. Many people suggest a sundew or similar carniverous plant to feed on the adult nuisances. I personally had luck with the "potato method". Take slices of raw potato and lay them on the top of the orchid's medium. For some reason, the young flies (not sure if they are larva or nymphs or what) hide on the underside of the potato Every morning replace the previous days slices with new fresh ones. Throw the older slices on your compost pile or someplace else outside so the mature flies don't find there way back to your plants. As the days go by, you will see less and less flies.
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:24 PM
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I had these fungus gnats around my seedlings this past spring. I went to Lowe's and bought a couple carnivorous plants and it helped control the bugs. Plus, they plants are fun to grow. If you pick something up don't get a venus fly trap since these bugs will not be large enough to trigger the plant. You want to look for Drosera (sundews) or Pinguicula (butterworts). These work like fly paper and can catch the little buggers.

From what I understand, a few gnats are not a problem and they don't actually hurt the plants. It is the larvae which are in the media around the roots that cause problems. If you get a large infestation then they can eat root hairs and set a plant back.

Good luck and keep us updated.
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Old 01-02-2009, 07:20 PM
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i found a different carnivorous solution - spiders.

just those tiny garden spiders no bigger than a drop of water. i assigned one to each plant w/ gnats. in no time i no longer had a problem.

but i'm sure dr_frnkblck's solution might be more agreeable to most folks
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:19 PM
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Hi.
Sometimes these tiny insects can be controlled by just watering in a small amount of garden lime to sweeten up the mix.
Often they are attracted to mix that is over watered and is going sour.
Just a simple remedy that works for me.
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Old 01-03-2009, 01:17 AM
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I agree with all of the above! I also put fly strips (those sticky things that catch flies) around when they appear. I don't like having them in my dining room. They aren't very appetizing! I remove the fly strips before anyone comes to eat, as they aren't very appetizing either! brookn's recipe in a spray bottle, zaps 'em, too!
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Old 01-03-2009, 02:48 AM
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Phyllis do they look like my pic? If so they're just fungi gnat and are more of a personal pain than a bother to the plant. LoL

If they really bug (no pun intended ) you can spray Brookn's recipe into the pot and then flush it out. It does the job for me.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:25 AM
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I had trouble with those little pests! Did some research at an agricultural/organic natural remedy site. Get yourself a little jar and pour cider vinegar about 1/3 full. Make a funnel out a a piece of paper and put it into the jar not touching the vinegar and big enough to fill the top of the jar. The flies go in but cant get out. It works. Or you can buy the fancy premade ones for 8 bucks a piece online. I use a small pickle jar. You can use it over and over of course. Tara
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Old 01-03-2009, 05:25 PM
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What a great suggestion!

This is a great suggestion. I really loved everyone's advice and was trying to figure out how to get a spider and then convince it to take up residence in one of the chids!
Can this be any kind of vinegar or just cider vinegar? And how close to the plants should the filled jar be?
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:58 AM
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Definately cider vinegar and yes you can sit it near whre the flies hang out. I had two or three of them as I had a huge amount of them for what ever reason they were all trapped within 24 hours. They like the vinegar. Now I think mine were teeny fruit flies, but I think it will work for any little flyin pest that likes sweet stuff. Tara
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Old 01-04-2009, 02:11 PM
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So far they seem to like the plants more than the vinegar! But I really like this organic/nonpesticide sugggestion! Thanks again.
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:32 PM
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Fungus gnats are harmful. They carry viruses, and can spread them through your whole collection in short order.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:41 PM
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Hmmm if they are sweet eating flies they will go for the vinegar eventually give them about 48 hours and see if any go in there. make sure there is room at teh end of the funnel for them to get in. Tara
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:25 PM
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Nope. No flies in the vinegar. I guess they aren't sweet eating flies after all. Bummer!
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:22 AM
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Hmm must not be flies? Keep that in mind if you get any fruit flies works like a charm. Tara
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:52 AM
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The fungus gnats are hatching from the peat mix of your amaryllis. The potato remedy like the Dr. recommended works to eliminate the larvae before they hatch out to the flying stage.

I have had fungus gnats buzz the orchids in bark, CHC and sphag but have never found the larvae in any orchid mix of that type. The larvae are white and almost the size of a grain of rice. Terresterials planted in peat based mix, yes.

You can put a grit on the top of the amaryllis pot and bottom water it and this will also keep the adults from reentering the wet media and laying their eggs.

You can make your own yellow sticky traps with any yellow paper and vaseline smeared on it. For some reason the adult flies are drawn to the yellow color.

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Old 01-06-2009, 11:44 AM
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I also had a big problem with fungus gnats and I finally repotted all my orchids because the bark had begun to decompose.

I found this article, I hope it helps.
fungus gnat@Everything2.com
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:18 PM
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You are all so smart! I really like animals and bugs but this was getting to be too big a problem and I can't risk my chids! After trying the yellow paper with vaseline, I decided to just discard all the soil/peat moss from the amaryllis pots, washed the pots with hot soap and water, and put the bulbs (yes they still have green stalks and/or flowers on them) in the garage for now to dry out. I guess I should discard the bulbs too???? And the pots????
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:26 PM
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I think your pots and bulbs are fine.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:35 PM
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I don't know anything about these bugs. But if they are fungus gnats, aren't they going for fungus? Which would mean fungus is present?
are they like the little black ones that suddently turn up at a sink drain? I remember having that problem some years back.
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Old 01-27-2009, 12:09 PM
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Fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae) belong to the group of insects known as the Diptera - they are true flies with 1 pair of wings. The fungal bit comes from the feeding habits of their larvae which develop in damp, decaying plant matter in which there is fungal growth - the larvae eat the fungus. Very often, those found in orchid media do not eat the orchid roots, and like springtails, they assist in natural recycling processes.
The adults are a pest because they can fly and annoy people. Cleaning out the pots and using fresh medium will work for a while, but adults from other sources will get into the house and lay eggs in the medium, starting the whole process again. I have read that the sticky traps mentioned above are effective at trapping adults.
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Old 01-27-2009, 12:36 PM
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The gnats in my place must be colorblind, they just ignore the yellow paper with vaseline.
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:34 PM
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Fungus gnats = fungus

I agree with people warning that fungus gnats are evidence of fungus. "Hiding" the gnats or chasing them away won't get to the "root" of the problem. No pun intended there, but where orchids are concerned, roots + fungus = orchids on the compost heap. Since the fungus gnat maggots eat fungus, chasing them away without doing anything to address the fungus problem could actually accelerate the damage the fungus will cause.

If it's true that your amaryllis has peat in the pot, that shouldn't affect the orchids at all. You'd see the flies on and around the amaryllis. If you're seeing the flies on the orchids, and on top of the potting medium of your orchids, time to be careful.

I have a Phaius with fungus gnats right now. Phaius is a semi-terrestrial, so it's in soil and it doesn't ever get allowed to totally dry out at the roots. But it's winter, so, it takes forever to get dry enough to water again. This means it's very wet almost all the time, basically - too much! This difficulty should only last a few more weeks, until the days are a little longer again, but, meantime, I'm being very attentive against root rot which could develop. The gnats are evidence that there's already funk down there.

So, what am I doing? First: the plant is in the warmest and driest (least humid, 40%) part of the growing area. This gives it the best chance to get dry faster. Second: Physan (fungicide chemical) in the water. Third: If I begin to suspect any sign at all of actual root deterioration (plant wilting, pot smelling worse, slower-than-ever pot drying), then I'll unpot it and have a look at the roots, apply Physan directly, and put it in a cactus-mix pot medium, with a little extra organic material and Perlite. The extra porosity ought to have this plant doing better until mid spring. At that time, I'll likely give it a more "terrestrial" type medium again, so that it can grow like mad during the summer. Greater water retention during that season won't be a problem like it is now, because both the long days and the rapid growth will dry the pot 10x faster than now. I'll be watering every day.

That's my take on it. I always thought that the gnats are harmless, unless it's true that they spread viruses and bad stuff around (which I hadn't heard before...) at any rate, killing the annoying gnats won't address the big clue that their presence is giving me.

Anyway, there were lots of good ideas offered about how to directly confront the flies. My absolute favorite way to control them directly is nematodes - little tiny worms, too small to see, which predate on insect eggs and larvae. The work really fast (because the adults only live about 2 days each) and really effectively.
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Old 01-29-2009, 09:08 AM
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I think that it is a sweeping generalisation to say that fungus + orchids = dead orchids. The damp medium in which orchids live (whether at home or in the wild) will support a variety of fungi, many of which are micro fungi that break down the cellulose in the medium. They do not harm the orchids, and these are often the food source of many fungi gnats. These are different from pathogenic fungi that might attack orchid roots, often a secondary event after some earlier damage.
Soil (and many orchid-growing media) comprise a complex mixture of medium, minerals, fungi, bacteria, insects, nematodes etc., which all play an important role in the recycling process.

Les
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:11 PM
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Yes, indeed, sweeping generalization.

Nevertheless, eliminating fungus when gnats are present is, in my opinion, a prudent response and is not otherwise detrimental to the plants. I personally have never seen visible fungus in my pots without root-rot at the same time.

Also, even if the only reason that someone wants to eliminate gnats is for aesthetic reasons and one is convinced that the gnats or the fungus they're eating are not harming the plants, my opinion again is to go to the source rather than treat the symptom. Otherwise they'll come back as soon as treatment is stopped.

I do appreciate your nuanced explanation.

BL
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:56 AM
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Hi again BL. It is likely that the reason you have not seen fungi in the growing medium (other than when damage is obvious) is that the fungi consumed by many larval fungus gnats are of microscopic varieties. There are many species of these flies: some cause economic damage in the mushroom-growing industry, others simply recycle components of soil.
I find the adult flies near my plants on occasions, but this is never associated with any damage to the plants. Therefore I never take steps to eliminate them.

Les
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Old 02-04-2009, 08:08 PM
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Gnats

I have also found these critters buzzing my plants on occasion whats interesting now is when I mist I see spider webs all over the medium, I have also found ity bity spiders in the medium when I repot and sometimes outside the pot, this is really neat to see and I love to have the tiny spiders in my growing space, the pests seem to be controlled now even though I did nothing to control them, I really don't want to use pesticide or even sticky paper because this might kill the spiders to, so I let the few there are fly around and feed my pet spiders
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Old 02-05-2009, 11:58 AM
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Thanks Sam. That is a useful piece of information and shows that biological control often does the trick! As you say, you don't see the spiders or their webs clearly unless they get misted - a bit like an autumn day over here when the hedges can be covered with spider webs that you don't notice when it's dry.
Les
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:25 PM
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Spiders

Yea they are cute little buggers to.
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Old 02-24-2009, 03:27 PM
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This is all nice and usefull when the flies are the only problem. I am experiancing the same problem with my Phals and I know that thiese flies are generaly not harmful for plants but I have noticed larvy in potting media. That's what freaks me out...
I have attacked them with garlic (a friend recommanded this...) and some Combisticks that are generaly against all kinds of harmful critters. Does anyone have experiance whith these flies larvy?

Last edited by NinaG; 02-24-2009 at 04:18 PM. Reason: correcting spelling mistakes
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Old 03-08-2009, 03:35 PM
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Hello Nina.
The larvae you mention feed on microscopic fungi that grow in the potting medium. When they are fully grown, the larvae form pupae, and then adult flies. In my opinion, the larvae do not harm the orchids, and you will find it very difficult to get rid of them and prevent them from coming back. If you read the messages above, you will find that some people use sticky traps, carnivorous plants, and other techniques against the flies. You might try these and have some success.
In my home I do not try to get rid of these flies because they do not cause any damage to my beloved plants.
Best wishes,

Les
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:41 AM
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Maybe they don't harm the plants but they have a habit of drowning in my coffee
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glossterline View Post
Hello Nina.
The larvae you mention feed on microscopic fungi that grow in the potting medium. When they are fully grown, the larvae form pupae, and then adult flies. In my opinion, the larvae do not harm the orchids, and you will find it very difficult to get rid of them and prevent them from coming back. If you read the messages above, you will find that some people use sticky traps, carnivorous plants, and other techniques against the flies. You might try these and have some success.
In my home I do not try to get rid of these flies because they do not cause any damage to my beloved plants.
Best wishes,

Les
Ty Les. I know the development stages of larvae but didn't know that they are not harmful to orchids. I got rid of the flies (for now) and hope it stays that way
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Old 07-26-2011, 02:52 PM
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Little flies!

I moved our Orchid to our bathroom a few months ago, and it finally started showing signs of growth again. I figured that it enjoyed the humidity, but now it is also hot and humid, and little flies have appeared. I have read all of the thread concerning these flies, and I've moved my orchid to a cooler, dryer place and set out some cider vinegar.
I am concerned because the flies have only increased in numbers, they are in and around the orchid, and one of the orchid leaves turned yellow/ brown and dropped within a matter of a day.
I'm fairly new with Orchids, this is my first one and its a beautiful white Phal. I don't really know what I'm doing; I've just done a lot of research and pulled logical and common practices/ theories from sites like this one.

Please, help!
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Old 07-27-2011, 07:13 PM
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Fungus gnats, they only live 24 hrs once they start to fly. Their main job is to reproduce at that point. They will lay their eggs in moist medium, where the larvae hatch. Before they fly, you can see them for a day or 2 running on the top of the medium, can't fly, so if you put a yellow sticky trap down an inch or so into the pot, they will run over and get stuck, then, those never reproduce. The larvae will damage the small roots, opening up the the bigger ones too with the "nibble" they take, that can lead to infection. Another alternative not mentioned it BT. Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) is a Gram-positive, soil-dwelling bacterium, commonly used as a biological alternative to a pesticide. It is safe, used in koi ponds, bird baths, to kill mosquito larvae. Probably many brands out there, but I am familiar with mosquito dunks and mosquito bits, and safer brand makes one called caterpillar killer. It is an inexpensive, safe, and foolproof way to eliminate those pesky critters.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:49 AM
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Fungus Gnats - Mosquito Dunks

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Originally Posted by 1joyceh View Post
Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) is a Gram-positive, soil-dwelling bacterium, commonly used as a biological alternative to a pesticide. It is safe, used in koi ponds, bird baths, to kill mosquito larvae.
I have LOTS of these little critters they are very bothersome. I have Mosquito Dunks from the Koi Pond but have not found any advice on how to apply so I'm going to crush a small piece add to a light watering and add to the regular weekly watering.

I'll let you know how it works. I'm hoping that a short life cycle will yield a short response time. Very tired of trying to swat the little pests.

Last edited by mikerc; 02-05-2012 at 11:53 AM. Reason: Addition
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:43 PM
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Wow I'm happy I am not the only person with these! I notice one or two with in 5 days or so. I hardly notice them. I will have to try the potato method and maybe pick up one of those bug eating guys. My 11 year old sister would probably get a kick out of that.
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Old 02-09-2012, 10:51 PM
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The Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) Mosquito Dunks WORKED in 4 days. All I had where the Floating Blocks so i crushed a piece about the size of a dime and soaked the power in a watering can with warm water for about an hour, divided it among four pots.

Previously if I disturbed the top layer of media in the pot I would get dozens of flies buzzing around, tonight NONE. I decided to do a full watering, which would drive out a swarm last week, only a couple were left tonight. Another treatment tonight and then I think I'll stop and see if any return over the next few weeks, just to see if they can be eradicated completely or if they are going to be a chronic problem that needs to be treated regularly.

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Old 02-10-2012, 06:55 AM
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So glad you had sucess mikerc!!!
they are so inexpensive, no chemicals or oils, just a natural and non-toxic remedy for those devil's spawn..LOL..nice to go near your plants and not have a gnat flying around your face
One other suggestion I might offer is to get a butterwort ( Pinguicula moranensis )....a carnivorous plant that is very easy to maintain, acts as sticky trap paper....another is sundew ( Drosera venusta, given to me by a wonderful fellow geek ). Each type come in many different forms...these 2 listed are quite easy to maintain. I have them around my orchids, and when I start to see they are getting a few gnats on them, hit again with the dunks....
WARNING!!!! carnivorous plants can be as addictive as orchids!!!!!
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:04 PM
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So far two treatments, still a few around but greatly improved. Sundew looks interesting may try to "dig" one up.
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