How to Get Rid of Bugs From Plant Soil?

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Growing plants, both indoors and outdoors, is a rewarding hobby but lately, there's been an abundance of tiny white bugs in the soil as well as indoor aphids. Bugs in plants' soil can indicate that there's something wrong with your soil or the insects are a threat and cause wilting, stunted growth, or faded leaves. There are different types of bugs in plant soil which we'll outline and teach you how to protect your plants by eradicating pests and preventing invasions.

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bugs in plants soil


Before dealing with bugs in plants' soil, you need to know what species you're dealing with. The most common types of bugs in plant soil include:

  • Root mealybugs: these tiny, white insects hide in soil cracks and eat plant roots.
  • Thrips: also a bug found in strawberries, thrips are tiny, winged insects that feed on plant leaves and blossoms.
  • Springtails: these small, insects live in moist environments and don't have wings.
  • Millipedes: these are also found in damp environments because they feed on decomposing organic matter.
  • Sowbugs: this soil-dwelling crustacean feeds on decaying plants.
  • Fungus gnats: these dark flies lay eggs in soil where their larvae consume plant roots.

Take note of the unique characteristics that these bugs in plants' soil have. You might also want to make sure that you truly have a pest and not a soil-dwelling fungus or fruit fly that's affecting your plants. Consult other resources like online guides or reach out to a professional pest control expert for advice.


The best way to keep your indoor and outdoor plants safe is by preventing bugs in plants' soil. You can do this by:

  • Using sterile or pasteurized soil to stop fungus from growing and attracting insects.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of an infestation like tiny flies around the soil, discoloration, or wilting on the plant leaves, and to act right away if you see any.
  • Avoiding overcrowding your plants and allowing adequate ventilation to prevent the growth of fungi and attracting pests.
  • Proper watering and drainage are essential. Water your indoor plants only when the soil is dry, and make sure the soil drains properly.
  • Use sand or a fine-mesh screen on top of the soil to deter gnat larvae from hatching and infesting the area.
  • Use nematodes! Apply these small worms to the soil to keep pest populations under control.
  • Keep the area around your indoor plants tidy and clutter-free so that decaying leaves or other trash don't become breeding and feeding grounds.
  • Use sticky traps to catch adult bugs, especially in the summer when they're most active. Use these traps near your plants or entryways like a window or your front door to catch crawling and flying pests.

These are a few tips to keep in mind to prevent bugs in plants' soil from becoming a problem.

tiny bugs in the plants soil

How to Inspect for Bugs in Plants' Soil

To check your plants' soil for bugs:

  1. Check the soil surface for adult bugs, larvae, and eggs.
  2. Look around the base of your plant for mealybugs or thrips because they usually hide in the soil's cracks and crevices.
  3. Look for damage like yellow leaves, wilting, or deformed growth.
  4. Use a magnifying glass for a closer look.
  5. Check the soil with a flashlight for bug activity. We recommend doing this at night when they're the busiest.
  6. Examine your houseplants and outdoor garden for bugs in plants' soil often.

How to Get Rid of Bugs in Plants' Soil

Before reaching out to professional pest control services, there are non-toxic and chemical products or techniques that you can use to get rid of bugs' in plants' soil.

Natural Remedies

All-natural solutions to bugs in plants' soil include:

  • Sticky traps: you can place sticky traps or tape near the base of your plants to trap adult insects and dispose of them right away.
  • Nematodes: this worm can use used to eat fungus gnat larvae and reduce pest populations.
  • Other predators: you can introduce ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory mites to control pest populations.
  • Water, vinegar, and dish soap: make a mixture of water, vinegar, and dish soap to suffocate pests.
  • Hand-picking: you can pick out the bugs in plants' soil by hand.
  • Shake: give your plants a gentle shake over a container or basin with soapy water so that the bugs fall and die.
  • Neem oil: use this natural insecticide with some water and spray it on the soil to kill bugs.
  • Companion planting: plant specific plants to repel certain pests away but draw in helpful plants. You can use marigolds and chamomille for this method.
  • Use helpful soil fungi: get rid of pests with beneficial fungi like Trichoderma and Gliocladium which compete with pests for food and space controlling insect populations. Use compost or directly apply these to the soil.
  • Use a potting mixture that drains well: A potting mixture designed expressly for houseplants may frequently include a combination of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite, which enhances drainage.
  • Use sand or grit: these can help improve drainage and deter insects from laying their eggs in the soil.
  • Don't overwater: only water your plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
  • Keep the soil surface dry: clear away any dead leaves or other debris.
  • Maintain proper pH levels: keep the pH level between 6 and seven. Test the soil then use lime to raise the pH level or sulfur to lower the pH.
  • Give your soil more structure: incorporate organic matter like compost, mulch, or well-rotted manure for your soil's overall health.
  • Insecticidal soap: this safe insecticide can help with the pH of the soil and keep bugs like aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies away.
  • Diatomaceous earth: sprinkle this diatomaceous earth powder to dehydrate and kill bugs in plants' soil.

Do your research before using these non-toxic methods that are safer for the environment and your health.

Chemical Remedies

There are chemical products readily available to help get rid of bugs in plants' soil:

  • Boric acid: this poison can be used to kill soil-dwelling pests.
  • Fungicides: sulfur fungicides, copper fungicides, and rotenone can be used to combat diseases and fungi that are spread in soil.
  • Pesticides: pyrethrin and spinosad can be liquid, powder, or bait that effectively kill bugs in plants' soil.
  • Insect growth regulators (IGRs): this is an insecticide that can be used to stop pests from maturing, growing, and reproducing.

We recommend using these chemical products as a last resort or in combination with natural remedies. If you're going to use these solutions, here's how to safely use pesticides or insecticides on plant soil:

  • Use the right pesticide for the task and read the product label for recommendations and instructions.
  • Use the appropriate insecticide dosage. Too much of any chemical can harm your plants while too little may not kill off the bugs.
  • Use the chemical when it's most effective which may be at a certain time of the day or during a specific stage of plant development.
  • Keep the chemical product away from children and pets. Ideally, these insecticides or pesticides should be locked away or in a hard-to-reach place.
  • Wear protective gear like goggles, a mask, and gloves.
  • Don't use chemicals in windy conditions so that you don't accidentally spread them or cause runoff.

You can also turn to a professional pest control expert for guidance on how to properly use these treatments for bugs in plants' soil.

Professional Treatment

If you're unsure of how to move forward with the bugs in plants' soil at any time, contact an expert exterminator. These professionals have the training, knowledge, equipment, and products to diagnose the infestation and put together an effective strategy. It's time to hire a qualified pest control specialist when:

  • The infestation is severe and has spread so you have tiny bugs in the house as well.
  • You've purchased natural and chemical products but none of them have worked.
  • Your plants are still stressed and have holes in their leaves or are wilting.
  • There's mold or fungus in your soil which is a problem on its own.

Professional treatment can be carried out in a plant nursery with equipment and chemicals that only experts are licensed to use.

Bottom Line: Bugs in Plants' Soil

Bugs in your houseplant or outdoor plant soil can be annoying and harmful to your garden. Not only can different bugs stunt plant growth, cause leaves to turn yellow, or cause wilting, but insects in the soil can lead to plant death if these pests feed on the stem or roots. That's why it's important to learn how to remove gnats, get rid of root mealy bugs, or prevent thrips from invading your soil.

You can use natural alternatives like neem oil or diatomaceous earth as well as physically remove bug bodies from the soil or use an insecticide spray. We highly recommend that you consult a professional pest control specialist with regards to your current infestation and the best plan of action.

Bugs in Plants Soil FAQs

What prevalent insect species are present in plant soil?

Fungus gnats, root mealybugs, springtails, and thrips, are common bug species found in plant soil.

How can I tell if there are bugs in plant soil?

Perform a routine inspection, use a magnifying glass, and a flashlight to check for bugs in the soil.

How can I tell bugs from other pests?

Look at the insect's physical traits, habits, and effect on plants or consult an insect identification guide.

How can I keep pests out of the soil where my plants grow?

Use sterilized or pasteurized soil, routinely inspect your plants for signs of infestation, avoid crowding your plants, and allow for proper ventilation to prevent pests from infesting your plant soil.

What should I do if I believe my plant soil has an infestation?

Reach out to a professional pest control expert if you think that your soil is infested with pests. You might be interested in the complete picture about are cactus succulents too.

What are some natural remedies for eliminating pests from plant soil?

As outlined in the article, you can use soap, water, and vinegar as a spray or sticky traps.

How can bugs in soil be managed using companion planting?

Companion planting can help repel pests away from your plants while attracting helpful insects like pollinators.

What are some chemical treatments for eliminating pests from plant soil?

You can use horticultural oil, pyrethrin, spinosad, boric acid, sulfur, copper fungicides, or rotenone.

What safety measures should be considered while using chemical treatments to plant soil bugs?

Always read the instructions on the label, keep a window open or use a fan to keep the area well-ventilated, don't spray chemicals when it's windy, and store pesticides and insecticides in a place that pets or children can't get a hold of them.

What are fungus gnats, and how do they impact indoor plants and plants grown in soil?

Fungus gnats are insects that feed on plants and cause them harm.

How can I drain soil so that fungus gnats are less prevalent?

You can use a specific potting mix that drains well, make compost and use some in the soil, avoid overwatering your plants, and maintain a dry soil surface.

How can the right pH levels make the soil less alluring to pests?

Adjusting the pH as needed means that your potted plants or outdoor ones are healthy and don't have any mold or mildew that is attractive to pests.

What advantages does adding organic matter to the soil provide?

Adding organic matter as you're gardening can help improve soil structure, leading to improved drainage and aeration. These conditions don't attract pests into your home where they can invade your houseplants and keeps them from infesting your garden plants.

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Abigail Clemente

Abigail is an experienced content creator who has worked with several big names in the home decor and interior design industry. She comes to our team with almost 6 years of experience of working as a full time content writer.

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