Pillbugs in my indoor potted fig plant and Meyer lemon

(Question)

Hello! It’s Thanksgiving in NJ, USA. My Chicago fig plant, purchased this past May, is bearing 4 figs (all about an inch big now). Truly pleased! My Meyer lemon has 2 little 1/2″ fruits. Equally surprised! I have found a multitude of pillbugs and flying gnats (not sure what they are) surfacing whenever I water them. Are they bad for the rooting system of my young plants? Thank you

(Answer)

 How gratifying that your fig and your Meyer Lemon are bearing fruit!

What you are describing could be either a pillbug or a sowbug.  The key to eradicating these little crustaceans is to make sure that you minimize the high moisture conditions they love, and remove any decaying leaf debris on the surface of the soil in your pots. Watering during the day will allow the soil surface to dry out by nightfall, when pillbugs and sowbugs are most active.

It can be difficult to determine what flying pest you have in your plants, but from your description of these flying insects “surfacing” from the soil, a strong possibility is that your plants are infested with Fungus Gnats.  You may find it interesting to read a previous post on this subject, below.  The advice given is similar to that for dealing with pillbugs:  reduce the moisture levels in your soil, and make sure there is no plant debris on the surface.

https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/askagardener/my-houseplants-are-infested-with-flying-bugs/

You might also be interested to read a recent article in the Star written by Sonia Day on fungus gnats.  Here is the link:

https://www.thestar.com/life/2014/11/08/the_little_worms_that_promise_to_rid_your_home_of_fungus_gnats.html

You don’t indicate whether you brought your plants inside after spending the summer outdoors, but it is always a good idea to repot your plants in clean potting mix when you bring them indoors.

Best of luck!  The good news is that neither of these will bring harm to your plants and hopefully with water management and debris removal you will be able to break the life cycle of the pillbugs and gnats.