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white bugs living in soil in my pots

Posted by zovirl Sunnyvale, CA (My Page) on
Thu, May 11, 06 at 0:10

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?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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.


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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?


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

  • Posted by zovirl Sunnyvale, CA (My Page) on
    Fri, May 19, 06 at 22:10

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





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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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.


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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.


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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!


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

Looks like springtail larvae.


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RE: white bugs living in soil in my pots

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


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