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We transplanted an assortment of pretty flowers for our windowsill some weeks ago (albeit rather crudely) and they were growing bright and healthy. Over the last week, however they've been plagued! I live in Scotland and suspect the pest is the midge.

The predominant flower is Phlox drummondii and this is the flower that is preferentially being eaten by the larvae, starting at the root and lower stem, reducing them to withered hairs (circled); then when the plant collapses the buggers eat the leaves!

I've tried bug spray but this has had little or no effect in trammelling their advance. Many have now become adults. Any advice appreciated!

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Given the time of year, the insect's appearance in the close-up and the fact that you live in Scotland, the damage is almost certainly being caused by the infamous Scottish midge - which has spoiled so many of my holidays in the Highlands!

I have never experienced this problem myself, but I have done a quick online search and the following advice, which will involve transplanting your seedlings into sterilized potting soil, seems very sound. It will apply to flower as well as vegetable seedlings:

How to get rid of gnats on vegetable seedlings

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That's a great answer, thanks @Mancuniensis! I had been watering the plants profusely when they started to wilt, thinking they were dehydrated, but this actually encourages gnat infestation! I don't think I have any choice other than replacing the soil, but I worry they'll be back...I'll stick to the advice on the link, move the box to another window and see what happens. –  waj Jul 10 '11 at 14:30
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