Integrated control of sciarid and shore flies in protected ornamental crops

Follow the guidance in these pages to help recognise sciarid and shore flies in protected ornamentals, learn, key information about their biology and check the cultural and biological control methods you can use in your integrated pest management strategy. 

Management of sciarid and shore flies in protected ornamentals

Sciarid and shore flies can be very common in protected ornamentals production as both thrive in warm, moist conditions. Sciarid fly larvae feed on rotting organic matter but can also feed on roots, weakening or killing plants.  Shore fly larvae feed on algae and do not damage plants, but the adults can be a nuisance to nursery staff, and like sciarid flies, they can spread plant diseases and be considered plant contaminants at marketing. 

On these pages, the important factors for effective management of sciarid and shore flies will be covered including: 

  • Recognising the difference between sciarid and shore flies 
  • Recognising the damage caused by sciarid fly larvae in protected ornamentals 
  • The biology of sciarid and shore flies 
  • Monitoring 
  • Cultural and biological control  

Follow the links below to learn more. 

Action points

  • Learn to recognise sciarid and shore fly adults on sticky traps, plants and growing surfaces and both sciarid and shore fly larvae in/on the growing media 
  • Know how to recognise feeding damage by sciarid fly larvae 
  • Practice good nursery hygiene and avoid over-watering to minimise sources of infestation 
  • Monitor plants and sticky traps regularly 
  • Use a routine biological control programme for both sciarid and shore flies in susceptible crops, such as in propagation 
  • Keep up to date with current biological control options 

Recognition and biology of sciarid and shore flies in protected ornamentals

Understand how to recognise sciarid and shore flies and learn key information about their biology. 

Understand the key differences between sciarid and shore flies

Sciarid fly damage and shore fly problems in protected ornamentals

Recognise damage symptoms caused by sciarid fly larvae and problems resulting from shore flies in protected ornamentals. 

Recognise the damage caused by sciarid fly larvae and the issues associated with shore flies

Monitoring sciarid and shore flies in protected ornamentals

Check the best way of monitoring for sciarid and shore flies to help plan and manage control strategies. 

How to monitor for sciarid and shore flies

Cultural and biological control of sciarid and shore flies in protected ornamentals

Management of sciarid and shore flies in protected ornamentals is best achieved using an integrated control strategy involving a combination of cultural and biological control methods. 

Achieving integrated control of sciarid and shore flies

Useful links

Read the AHDB Bedding and Pot Plants Crop Walkers’ Guide for more information on sciarid and shore flies. 

AHDB Bedding and Pot Plants Crop Walkers’ Guide


Author – Jude Bennison. ADAS Horticulture.

Original author – John Buxton. ADAS Horticulture.

Web page content correct as of May 2021.

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Sciarid fly larval feeding damage on poinsettia cutting 

Courtesy and copyright of ADAS Horticulture.