Help me identify these pests (JPG)

gstructure(Z6 NYC)February 6, 2010

Hi all,

I've been recently plagued with little flies around the house and in my search for a solution I've come across a tip to find out whether those flies are actually fungus gnats. The tip was to place a chunk of raw potato onto the soil and the fungus gnat larvae should flock to it within a day, if they are indeed present. Well, it is now a couple of days later and there's no sign of fungus gnat larvae on any of the 10 potato chunks. There are however three other bugs that found the treats; one is clearly a little black snail, and the other two are different grubs or worms. I've included a photo of them all and I hope you can help me identify them, and maybe even offer a battle plan (or maybe they are all harmless)?



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sweetcicely(S7 USDA9 No.CA)

Hi GK,

Your potato bait drew some interesting results. You may want to check the drainage holes at the bottoms of the plant pots for evidence of fungus gnat larvae (very small white worm-like larvae--somewhat translucent. That is where I have seen them.

The yellowish worm at the top appears to be a mealworm (larval stage of the darkling beetle) or some similar beetle larva. You can search Mealworm life cycle on google image for comparison.

The pinkish worm at the bottom appears to be a small earthworm--harmless good guygal.

If it were my plant and could bear the depotting, I would prepare fresh, sterile media and a well cleaned or new pot, gently rinse off old media from the plant and repot it, letting it rest several days in indirect light before watering and at least a month before feeding.

If that is not a good choice for this plant you can put the earthworm outdoors to fend for himherself (they are hermaphrodites, I believe), and go after the snail(s), larvae, and suspected fungus gnats in two steps.

BT (Bacillus thuringiensis (SP??)) preparations are available at garden supply stores. They are biological organisms toxic to worm-like larvae, such as fungus gnats and probably mealworms as well (check package label).

Garden supply stores also have snail remedies that are non-toxic to animals. Some are quite toxic to animals, so do check label warnings.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 4:13AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

The BT I can easily find in garden centers is the product for caterpillars....BTi for gnats can be harder for me to locate and I have to order it.

The BT for gnats is Bacillus thuringienis subspecies israelensis = BTi. Specific to gnat, mosquito, black fly larvae only, the types are not interchangeable in the pests they target.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 11:08AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

The lower critter is a millipede. It's a scavenger in moist places.

The snail-- well, some eat plants, some don't. But they don't belong in pots.

The upper critter is more challenging to ID because of the small image. Doubt it's a mealworm; no reason for it to be in a pot. Just remove it, and keep any eye out for any relatives.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 5:28PM
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sweetcicely(S7 USDA9 No.CA)

Good eyes, jean001. Time for me to update my glasses Rx.
I completely missed the legs on that millipede.

Sorry, GK.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 9:15PM
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gstructure(Z6 NYC)

Thanks everyone,

after reading sweetcicely's earthworm guess I was going to mention that it has little antennae (which are hard to see because of the image), but jean001 already got to it.

sweetcicely - in regard to the top critter; I checked the mealworm life cycle pictures and it seems like what I have is not exactly the same, it looks like mine has legs all the way down it's body. Also I should have mentioned a couple of it's behaviors - when it is poked, it turns into a spiral and also emits a rather unpleasant scent. Perhaps that'll help to ID this guy?

And when I looked at the drainage holes, I didn't find any worm-like larvae - but in a couple of pots, I found little (about 1/16") white bugs scurrying around. From what I looked up, they don't look like aphids, whiteflies or mealybugs, and they move rather quickly. Any ideas?


    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 3:31AM
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sweetcicely(S7 USDA9 No.CA)

For those little white guys, check out some pictures of springtails, especially if they appear to jump when touched with a prod. (Have a good magnifier handy for this teeny tiny stuff.) Springtails are said to be harmless, but I don't like finding them in my plants.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 2:54PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

If the top critter has legs the length of its body, might be another millipede.

As for springtails, they're common under posts where it's nicely moist. So if the plant is in trouble, it's much more likely due to the excess moisture than to the springtails.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 10:54PM
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