MITES from bagged soil!!

tinygardenNYC(7)April 19, 2014

I started some seedlings indoors in little coir pots and recently added some soil to them and moved them to slightly larger pots as we've had a late-coming spring.

Well now they are all crawling with some type of tiny, nearly microscopic mites!! I feel nearly certain that they came from the soil because I added some soil from the same bag to a potted plant at my office, and only that plant had a proliferation of the wee beasties.

Can anyone give advice on this? Are my seedings goners? Or is there something I can use to kill the mites without hurting my plants?

By the way, the soil was Vigoro organic potting mix from Home Depot. That'll teach me.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

no matter what the bag says... i use the system at the link to make sure NOTHING comes in my media ...

i am not sure on your ID .... i think you are guessing.. i would look toward fungus gnats.. before i ever thought of mites ... and that is a watering issue ...

and of course.. you will never get a pic .. as they are so tiny ...

you have to be so close in z7 to be getting them outdoors ... i dont know if its worth the effort to deal with them indoors???

i think i would get them outdoors.. where they can start hardening off to temps.. but in a small group./. which you could protect for the next week or two ...

then harden them off to sunshine.. before you drop them into the garden ...

fungus gnats are in indoor phenom... they are irrelevant outdoors.. and will not kill your plants... they will only drive you crazy .. with little or no impact on the plant ...


    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 11:39AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Were these things on the plant or crawling all over the soil?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 11:40AM
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You're right, it's just a guess that they're mites - but they look like mites I've seen in other circumstances (bags of feed) and they were crawling instead of flying/hopping like the gnats I've seen from, say, hardware store plants.

Good to know that there are a couple of possibilities, though. Also good to know that they probably won't hurt the plant. They are mostly on the soil, but the potted plant at work seems to have some leaf damage (looks chewed -- sorry don't have a pic)

ken_adrian, you referred to a link, but I don't think I got it?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:03PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I doubt that you're describing fungus gnat larvae, which are white, maggoty looking things. There are mites that live in the soil and I'd guess that that's what you're seeing. Spider mites, which are the only kind to do plant damage, are much, much too small to be observed crawling around. And they don't hang out on the potting mix.

Springtails are a possibility, too.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:55PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Another tip against plant mites: Mites don't chew leaves.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 3:19PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

God i hate when i open the window.. copy the link.. and forget to paste it.. lol

my point.. of offering alternatives ... was to show you.. when you.. as a poster.. start with a suggestion .. we tend to narrow in on it... yet forget ... that if you are a newb on some level.. you might not really mean to do that ...

these other folks are true bug peeps [thats a pun.. lol.. as not all bugs are true... lol] ...

if you really want to know.. call your extension office.. and see if they have a resident expert ...

but still.. its almost time to go outdoors ...

as to the link ... when i do things indoors.. EVERYTHING gets sterilized... pots.. tools.. watering cans.. media... etc ...

not unlike an operating room.. if you start clean.. you can avoid a lot of future problems ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 11:10AM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

Get a strong magnifying glass and look at them; spider mites have a very distinctive shape, not like spiders.

What makes you think it was the medium? It could have been the coir pots. As with most things you will probably never know exactly. The good news is they are fairly easy to zap with a specific acaricide. Good luck. Ian

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 3:22PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Ian, you need to reign it in. It seems pretty clear that whatever tinygarden is seeing in the potting medium, that it is not spider mites of any kind. Seeing them "crawl all over the soil" is a clue, don't you think? Heck, we don't know if the critters are even mites at all.

One should never recommend an acaricide without knowing for certain that phytophagous (big word, bwave) mites are the culprit. These aren't.

You should know that spider mites aren't easy to control, even with a miticide.

Strong pesticides of any kind should be recommended with great caution, especially for indoor plants.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:22PM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

That's why I suggested he look more closely. Learn to read, dork, before you start slagging people off. And by the way as you are so knowledgable how come you haven't worked out what my Weird Disease Problem Is?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:48PM
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Go with what ken said: when i do things indoors.. EVERYTHING gets sterilized...

Can't argue with that no way no how never. I use peat/coir pellets for everything, and once rehydrated they all go for a spin in the nuker. So does garden dirt when transplanting the pellets to cups/pots. I have never had a problem since starting to do that. No bugs, no damping off, nada.

Unless, of course, if I just jinxed it...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 7:02PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

As soon as you submit some pictures, Ian, someone might have a shot at an ID of your mysterious problem.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:50PM
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Thanks so much for all the tips, y'all. I think sterilizing will be the best bet going forward -- I stand enhanced. I am hoping that the seedlings continue to do okay until transplanting, which is coming up soon.

I am still left with the question of what to do for the indoor plant that was struck with the same... critters. I am attaching a picture to show what I mean when I say that it looks chewed. It is only on the bottom two leaves and looks like a cartoon, like the Very Hungry Caterpillar or something! I wouldn't have believed that the barely-visible dots could do that, but the plant definitely didn't experience any physical trauma, no other bugs around. I just came back from a long weekend after having added the new soil and it looked like that! Any advice is welcome.

NB this plant did not touch the coir, and the soil was from the same bag that the seedlings were exposed to, which is what leads me to think that it's the culprit. Have also now noticed that the remaining soil in the bag is moldy.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 3:40PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Rhizo a dork? Rhizo??? One of the most helpful people on this or any of a number of forums...a dork? And coming from someone looking for help on another thread? Lets see, what term from the era which brought us "dork" would apply here...dufus , perhaps. lol


    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 5:55PM
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