When you're learning how to design a backyard or are simply a gardening enthusiast, you quickly learn how important soil is. Not only do plants need soil to survive but it's a haven for microorganisms and pests. One of these pests is the tiny white bugs in soil. When left unchecked, these insects known as mites can harm plants because they feed on roots that result in stunted growth, wilting, or death. If you want to learn about these insects and how to protect your soil from them, our team's put together this entire guide.
There are different tiny white bugs in soil and not all of them are harmful. However, there are several mites that can harm your plants which include:
- Root mites: these tiny, oval-shaped mites vary in color from white to yellow and feed on roots which can cause stunted plant growth and withering.
- Spider mites: the tiny white bugs in your house or out in the garden soil could be spider mites. These bugs look like spiders because of their many legs and round bodies but are red or yellow and feed on plant leaves and roots.
- Fungus gnats: fungus gnats are small, white insects that are usually found in damp soil. They eat the fungus in the soil which can negatively affect plants.
- Cyclamen mites: these small mites are probably the hardest to see for the naked eye but have white, elongated bodies. These bugs will usually feed on leaves, buds, and blooms which results in wilting plants that fall over.
While not all mites and tiny white bugs in soil are destructive because some are pollinators, the ones listed above are. After identifying what's bothering your houseplant or outdoor flower, you can use the right prevention or eradication method.
How to Distinguish Tiny White Bugs From Other Pests
To distinguish tiny white bugs in soil, compost, houseplants, or out in the garden, you can examine the damage they do and their behavior. For instance, spider mites can cause browning, stippling, or discoloration on leaves while spiders have segmented bodies and legs.
You can take pictures of these bugs and compare them to resources online or reach out to a reputable garden center for identification. We also recommend contacting a professional pest control provider for help with identifying a bug species and learning about what to do next.
The best strategy to protect your plants from harmful tiny white bugs in soil is by preventing an infestation. Read more on Mugo pine care too!
Our prevention tips include:
- Maintain moist and not soggy soil. Water your plants as needed but don't overwater them!
- Keep the space around your plants free of clutter. Clean up fallen leaves, twigs, and other waste.
- Check your current plants before planting any new ones for mites and other pests.
- Choose to plant pest-resistant plants in your garden or keep these types of plants indoors.
- Spray neem oil onto your plants' leaves or put it in the soil to naturally repel insects.
- Use beneficial insects like ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and lacewings to keep pest populations under control.
- Routinely check on your plant's leaves, roots, and stems for webbing, wilting, or other signs of an infestation.
- Don't crowd your plants! Keep them well-spaced out when planting.
How to Inspect for Tiny White Bugs in Soil
If you want to check for tiny white bugs in soil, here's a step-by-step guide:
- Check on the roots of your plants for any signs of wilting, discoloration, or stunted growth.
- Look at your houseplant and outdoor plant leaves. If there's wilting, damage, or discoloration, there could be mites in the soil.
- Inspect the soil of your plants for the mites themselves.
- Use a magnifying glass for a closer look at your plants and their soil.
- Take note of any webbing on the plants or in the soil.
- If you've just learned how to make compost easily or have an existing one, check for any signs of an infestation too.
- Check other areas of your garden or houseplants for signs of an infestation because these bugs spread easily.
While you can prevent and eradicate tiny white bugs in soil, stay vigilant for signs of an infestation.
How to Get Rid of Tiny White Bugs in Soil
The different ways to get rid of white bugs in the soil include natural products, chemical alternatives, and professional pest control.
For homeowners that don't want to use chemicals to control white bug populations in their soil, you can use any of the following:
- Neem oil: this natural insecticide comes from the: neem tree and can be applied in soil or sprayed on plants.
- Diatomaceous earth: this powder can be applied to plants or put into the soil to dry out and kill bugs.
- Sterilized soil: you can buy and use sterilized soil for houseplants to reduce the likelihood of an infestation.
- Garlic and pepper spray: make crushed garlic and pepper spray to ward off insects.
- Horticultural soap: wash plant leaves with horticultural soap to get rid of bugs and prevent future infestations.
- Water: spray away bugs with water outdoors.
- Compost tea: make a compost tea out of compost and water to repel bugs with a natural insecticide.
- Essential oil: you can use tea tree, eucalyptus, or peppermint essential oils in water to make an organic repellant. You can use this as a spray or mix essential oils in the soil of potted plants. Re-apply as needed!
- Use predatory insects: control pest populations with ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and lacewings.
There are chemical products on the market that you can use to get rid of tiny white bugs in soil:
- Acaricides: these pesticides can be used on arthropod pests and mites as a spray or in soil.
- Pyrethrins: this insecticide can be added to soil or sprayed on plants.
- Carbaryl: you can buy this insecticide as a spray or dust and use it to kill tiny white bugs in the soil.
- Acephate: this is another pesticide that can be sprayed on your outdoor or indoor plants or applied to their soil.
- Imidacloprid: this is a systematic insecticide that can be put into soil or sprayed onto plants.
- Malathion: kill bugs by putting this insecticide into the soil or spraying it onto plants.
- Abamectin: this insecticide made from bacteria found in soil works well against pests.
- Spirotetramat: this insecticide works well against spider mites and other pets.
- Rotenone: this broad-spectrum insecticide works well against different bugs in soil.
- Sulfur: sulfur-based pesticides and fungicides are poisonous to bugs and will kill them.
- Abamectin: this pesticide can be sprayed on plants or put in the soil to manage whiteflies, mites, and thrips.
- Spinosad: a natural pesticide, spinosad can be applied to soil or sprayed onto plants.
- Propargite: you can also manage pests on foliage by spraying propargite.
- Cyfluthrin: this is a synthetic pyrethroid pesticide that can be used in soil or as a leaf spray.
- Hexythiazox: this is a pesticide that can be used as a spray to kill pests.
When using any pesticides and insecticides, it's important to read the instructions carefully and keep safety precautions in mind. You should also make sure to wear protective gear and make sure that you're not killing off useful insect populations by accident.
You may need professional pest control services if you need specific equipment or treatments, a greenhouse, sterilization services, a professional diagnosis, or expert guidance.
When to Call a Professional Exterminator
It makes sense to call a pro to handle the tiny white bugs in soil when:
- You have a large infestation on hand and it's too much to handle on your own.
- The pests keep coming back no matter what methods and products you use.
- Your compost piles are infested with mites and other bugs.
- Your environment or its soil has relatively high humidity.
- You're dealing with a hazardous or poisonous species
Soil Management Techniques
Aside from learning about the different tiny white bugs in soil, infestation prevention, and how to eradicate them, there are soil management techniques that you can use to manage your houseplants or outdoor plants:
- Use compost: keep your soil healthy and rich with compost.
- Crop rotation: practice crop rotation to break up the life cycle of these pests in your garden or around houseplants.
- Use mulch: by adding mulch around plants, you can help deter weeds and pest populations.
- Have the right pH levels: use pH testers and adjust the pH level in your soil according to plant requirements. You can use lime to boost pH or sulfur to lower pH.
- Check your dirt drainage: make a hole that's 12 inches deep to check how well your soil drains. If needed use, compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold to help. You can also make sure that the soil slopes away from the plant's base, aerate the soil, or use raised beds.
Bottom Line: Tiny White Bugs in Soil
Tiny white bugs in the soil of your outdoor or indoor plants are annoying and harmful. If left to thrive, these insects can cause stunted growth, wilting, or death. However, there are a number of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, and natural repellants that can be used against pest populations.
We recommend using our soil management techniques and contacting a professional pest control expert to prevent an infestation or deal with current bugs in your soil.
Tiny White Bugs in Soil FAQs
What are those tiny white bugs in the soil?
The most common tiny white bugs in the soil are mites.
Why are mites drawn to the soil?
Mites are drawn to soil because it is moist, has high humidity, or is home to an attractive plant.
What impact do mites have on plants?
Mites that feed on plant roots can impede growth, induce wilting, or even kill plants.
Can all types of mites hurt plants?
No, not all mites are a threat to plants with some helping in waste decomposition or acting as pollinators.
How can I tell what kind of mites are in my soil?
You should take note of the mites' physical characteristics, behavior, and effect on plants.
How can I keep my soil from becoming infested with mites?
You can make sure that your soil is sterilized and not too moist to keep it form being infested.
What typical types of soil mites can you find there?
The typical soil mites you'll find include root mites, spider mites, fungus gnats, and cyclamen mites.
How can I naturally get rid of little white bugs in the soil?
You can naturally get rid of these pests by watering your plants, using pepper and garlic spray, with essential oils, a compost tea, or with predatory insects.
How can essential oils be used to ward off teeny white bugs?
Essential oils can be mixed into soil or diluted in water and sprayed on plants to repel tiny white bugs.
Do chemical solutions have to be used to manage teeny white bugs on plants or in soil?
No, chemicals don't have to be used to manage pest populations unless natural remedies didn't work.
What safety measures must be followed when utilizing chemical remedies?
Make sure to follow product instructions and safety precautions, wear protective gear, use bug spray as needed, and store products in a safe, secure place.
Why is soil management important?
Soil management makes sure that plants have optimal environments to grow and can help keep pests away.
What can be done to increase soil drainage so that there aren't a lot of tiny white bugs in soil?
You can test the soil and raise it, aerate the soil, and adjust its pH level as needed.
How can soil pH levels be adjusted so that little white bugs find it less alluring?
You can use sulfur to lower pH levels or lime to boost the pH of your soil.
What professional remedies are available for damaged and pest-infested indoor plants?
Professional pest control experts can provide treatments in a greenhouse, sterilize the soil, and use special chemicals for your indoor and outdoor plants infested with pests.