The prospect of hundreds upon hundreds of small insects you can only see with a magnifying glass slithering through your beloved potted plants can give you the creeps. While the soil mites, white and brown bugs are beneficial to plants in the garden, they are not healthy for humans.
Soil mites, believe it or not, are useful arthropods. Fungus, algae, and leaf litter are all organic materials that break down in the soil. These insects prefer to live in the top layer of soil, where they can find decaying organic matter, and they specifically love heading for your compost bin.
Even while they aid in the decomposition process, they can be harmful to your garden soil and indoor plants if they become infested. Soil mites come in various kinds, with oribatid being the most frequent. These garden pests can be a nuisance both inside and outside the house. They carry bacteria and parasites like tapeworms, which they transfer to your houseplants.
In our guide, you can learn how to deal with various types of soil mites before they cause too much harm. By the end, you’ll see how to get rid of these tiny white bugs in soil for healthy plants and stop them beating a health hazard to family members and pets. (Read When To Apply Grubex)
Difference Between Soil Mites and Spider Mites?
Arthropods are what soil mites are classified as. Their legs sprout from their body parts, and they lack internal bones. They eat algae, decaying plants, dead insects, tiny worms, and fungi and dwell in moist and humid soil.
Soil mites are incredibly tiny, measuring less than a millimeter, and can be difficult to discern with the naked eye. However, white or brown specks like small spiders can be seen on the soil surface once you see soil mites.
Oribatid mites are the most prevalent, as they reproduce slowly and survive a long time.
An oribatid mite’s average lifespan is three to four years, although, under perfect conditions, each individual can survive up to seven years.
Because of their hard, spherical exoskeletons or shells, these tiny animals are sometimes called turtle mites or beetle mites.
Because they are typically found in moss or lichen, they are also known as moss mites.
Here are some of the many species of soil mites:
- Astigmata Mites: Found in nitrogen-rich soils.
- Gosamid Mites: Most common predatory mites.
- Mesostigmata Mites: Predatory mites that feed on dead animals.
- Prostigmata Mites: A suborder of tiny creatures that feed differently.
- Spider mites: The garden pests are related to spiders. Spider mites are not visible to the naked eye and are around 1 mm with pale white to brown bodies and eight legs.
Many types of soil mites, which are close relatives to spider mites, can damage your garden and plants with a large infestation where the spider mite colony will damage the leaves of plants.
The first signs of a spider mite infestation are spots on leaves and fine spider webs on your plants.
Are Soil Mites Harmful To Plants?
Soil mites aren’t thought to harm houseplants and are sometimes thought to be beneficial arthropods that help the breakdown process or organic matter in healthy soil.
Like many other insects, soil mites aren’t just a problem in the yard; they can also be found indoors. Here are some methods on how to get rid of soil mites in indoor and outdoor plants. (Learn How Much Does A Yard Of Topsoil Weigh)
How To Get Rid of Bugs in Houseplants Soil
Refreshing or replacing the potting soil is one of the simplest ways to get rid of tiny arthropods in houseplant soil. If you have a significant infestation, cleaning old dirt through a filter removes food sources, and replenishing the soil is preferable.
Carefully remove your plant from the pot and sift the soil to remove dead leaves, debris, and other decaying material. Then, replace your plant in its container with the sifted soil, ensuring that all the plant’s roots are covered.
After repotting your indoor plants, give them plenty of water. Then, remove the plant from the pot and discard all the old soil if you replace it with healthy soil.
To rinse any remaining dirt, rinse the plant’s roots and the container with a mild water stream. To help the plant establish, put it in a pot with new soil and water it.
How To Kill Soil Mites with Pesticides
After sifting the dirt to remove any dead plants or decaying matter, use pesticides to get rid of soil mites, as this can ensure any leftover bugs won’t lead to another infestation.
Soil Mite Insecticide
To get the best results, look for pesticides that contain pyrethrins as a component. Then, follow the manufacturer’s directions to mix the pesticide with water and spray the soil and plants as directed.
Do Soil Mites Bite Humans?
Humans are not attacked by mites, although those who allow them to stay on their skin may be bitten. A common mite bite creates a minor rash and itchy skin, but no medical attention is required. However, some people require a topical or ophthalmic injection to cure mite bites.
How to Get Rid of Soil Mites Using Organic Insecticide
To stop a soil mites infestation using natural and organic components, Neem oil is the best way.
Neem oil is a natural pesticide taken from neem tree seeds and is suitable to treat many plants against insects.
Neem Oil Soil Drench
- 1 tablespoon of Neem oil (cold-pressed)
- 1 teaspoon of Castile Soap
- 1 quart of warm water
- Medium-sized container
- Add your Neem oil soap to the water in your container and mix.
- Pour sufficient liquid around the base of your plant to soak the soil.
- Use your soil drench weekly instead of your regular watering. Do this until you fix your insect and fungi problems.
Use a Cinnamon Mix to Kill Soil Mites
Cinnamon is another natural way to kill soil mites. This approach is not only excellent at getting rid of insects in the topsoil, but it is also non-toxic to plants and has a lovely odor.
Soil Mite Cinnamon Treatment
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 4 cups of water
- Spray bottle
- 1 or 2 drops of liquid dishwashing (optional)
- Fill a spray bottle halfway with warm water
- Add the cinnamon and shake until it dissolves.
- Consider adding a few drops of dish soap if your plants are infested with oribatid mites.
- Spray the mite killer solution into the soil surrounding the bottom of the plant and soak the top layer of soil.
- Apply to all your infected plants and repeat on heavily infested soil as needed.
If you have fungus gnats, rather than using cinnamon powder, you can use cinnamon essential oils.
Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Getting Rid of Soil Mites
Bugs in potting soil, particularly in succulents and other houseplants, are the worst. Fortunately, using hydrogen peroxide to get rid of bugs in houseplant soil is simple. (Read Are Mosquitoes Attracted To Light)
Hydrogen Peroxide Mite Killer
- 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide (use 3% only)
- 2 cups of water
- Large container
- Pour the water and hydrogen peroxide into a container. Mix ready to use the peroxide and water on your plants.
- To drench the dirt, pour the liquid into the plant’s soil.
- If it bubbles, don’t panic, as this is a natural reaction.
- Repeat once or twice a week until you eliminate soil mites, and any harmful bacteria subsides in your potted plants.
Unlike mealybugs and their larvae and other garden pests, soil mites do not harm plants. They are, however, harmful to humans; thus, appropriate pest management is necessary to kill mites before they carry parasites in and around your home.
What are Soil Mites?
So, what exactly are soil mites, and are they harmful? Potting soil mites make in soil with their many family members. These tiny insects are roughly the size of a pinhead and are extremely difficult to spot.
They may seem like small white spots traveling on the soil’s surface or along the edge of a plant container.
Soil mites come in various species, all of which are related to ticks and spiders. Plants are
not known to be harmed by soil mites, and they are typically thought to be beneficial to the decomposition process.
The Oribatid Mite
The Oribatid mite is a species of soil mite (often called turtle mites) that thrive in wooded regions, where it aids in the decomposition of organic materials.
Patios, decks, container plants, and even inside homes are all places where these mites can be found. They’re attracted to decaying organic stuff, including leaves, moss, and mold.
If you have annoying soil mites, the quickest way to deal with them is to eliminate the decomposing materials. Keep decomposing debris off of outdoor living spaces and rooftops as well.
Soil Mites in Compost Heaps
Soil mites adore decaying matter because of its breakdown capabilities and will jump into a pile at every opportunity.
Worm bin mites are tiny animals that find compost bins an ideal feast.
Compost bin mites come in various shapes and sizes, including predatory mites that are flat and light brown. These quick-moving soil mites can be found in various compost bins, including both indoor and outdoor animal manure piles.
Slower-moving soil mites have also been seen in compost. Some appear to be shiny, round mites that move slowly and resemble tiny eggs.
Fruit and vegetable organic matter or other decaying organic matter are where these are commonly found.
If you’re worried about these little critters competing with your compost worms, remove them easily by adding watermelon rind to your compost pile and removing it after a few days, hopefully containing lots of mites.
Because much of the soil mite info available may seem hard to find, it is essential to know that they are relatively harmless to humans and plants. So, don’t panic when you spot potting soil mites in your compost bin.
If you are set on getting rid of them in your planting containers, you can remove your plant from the pot, soak it to remove soil, and repot with new, sterilized soil. You can add a small amount of insecticide or use the above methods to keep your plants mite-free as well.