white bugs living in soil in my pots

zovirl(Sunnyvale, CA)May 11, 2006

Today I noticed funny piles of dirt under the holes of some of my pots. It looked like little droppings or termite sawdust. The soil in the pot was pushed out through the hole and bit, and when I poked at it there were several little white bugs crawling around. They burrowed back into the soil. Any idea what they are? Are they harmful?

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earthnut(WA/usda8/ahs2)

fungus gnat grubs, perhaps? Fungus gnats are pretty harmless, just annoying. They can be reduced by watering your plants less if the plants can tolerate that.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 12:39AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Without a better description, it will be difficult to help you. Fungus gnat larvae are tiny worm-like insects....as a matter of fact, most people would call them worms by mistake.

I suspect that your animal may be pillbugs, or even termites. How about a description or even a picture?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 9:04AM
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zovirl(Sunnyvale, CA)

Ok, I went hunting last night. Took several plants out of their pots and found:

  • 2 slugs (maybe bringing all the plants in from outside was a bad idea)

  • 1 worm (no idea where this guy came from. These plants have all been in their pots on my patio table)

  • 1 of the little white bugs. That's a dime next to it, for scale


    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 10:10PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Rats, I forget what those durned little things are! You need to repot your plants, if you intend on keeping them inside. If you found those critters, I'll bet there are more lurking.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 11:21PM
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nohandle(6a swON)

They look like blind (or soil dwelling) springtails to me.
Check out the following picture (cut and paste into browser) http://www.flickr.com/photos/lordv/94484378/in/set-590338/
and then follow the link below as well.
I have them in with some of my seedlings too and so for the past few weeks I've been trying to figure out what they are. I thought they might be symphylans at first (do a google search), but now I'm pretty sure they're just springtails. I have twelve small pots that are pretty heavily infested with them but they don't seem to have had any adverse effect as of yet.

Here is a link that might be useful: springtails

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 1:27AM
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botanybob(Northern Idaho)

They look like springtails to me also. They are considered harmless decomposers, feeding on decaying organic matter. The link nohandle supplied is the first I have ever heard of them being a pest. Chances are yours is not.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 7:05PM
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ewheeler(6a)

Oh man! I have the same things in my indoor potted clematis. Yes! They make those little structures that look like a pile of droppings. These things are microscopic and only surface when I give a watering. I really dont think they are springtails, they are much much smaller. They look like flightless flies with antennae and non segmented body. They don't seem to be hurting the plant and there is no sign of them on the leaves. This is the only thread I've found that describes,with a picture, what I'm seeing. If you have found out what they are by now, please let me know. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 9:01PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Those wee white thingys do not look like any springtail I have ever seen.
I would say that a change of potting soil is in order.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Springtails

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 7:18AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Looks like springtail larvae.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 12:11PM
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ewheeler(6a)

Well I think the puzzle is solved now. They are springtails from the order collembola. I didn't realize there were so many types. They are harmless according the the entomologist I asked. Here's a link to great names and pictures. http://www.pbase.com/tmurray74/springtails_collembola

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 12:45PM
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