Last Updated on April 15, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
If you look at the potted plants in your home closely, sometimes, you may notice tiny white dots moving on the top of the soil or along the edges of the pot. This could be an indication that you have a soil mite infestation.
While, in general, soil mites are harmless to the soil and the plants, they are pests and their existence in your precious plants may bother you. So, if you want to eliminate soil mites, there are many ways in which you can do that.
How To Get Rid Of Soil Mites in Indoor Plants
Soil mites are scavengers that usually make their home in potting soil or compost heaps because they are attracted to organic, rotting matter such as leaves, moss, wood, etc.
Soil mites can travel from your outdoor spaces to inside your home and move around in your home, patio, etc. and also make their home in your indoor potted plants.
In general, soil mites are not harmful; however, they can be a nuisance and are not a pleasant sight to see in your garden or house plants.
While there is no evidence of soil mites attacking or biting humans, these critters may carry parasites such as the eggs of tapeworms, which can be dangerous and a health hazard to humans.
Since soil mites feed on decaying organic matter, once they run out of food, they will leave and find another home on their own. Nevertheless, if you are concerned about soil mites being a threat to your health, then it’s better to be safe and get rid of soil mites when you notice an infestation.
You can get rid of soil mites using the following methods:
Remove Old Dirt
Soil mites thrive on decaying matter and so, checking the soil and removing any decaying material from the soil is the first step to getting rid of soil mites.
Remove the top portion of the soil and replace it with fresh, top-quality soil. Check the soil you have removed from the pot and remove anything that may serve as food for the mites.
Re-Pot the Plants
Once you have removed the old soil and checked the pot, you can re-pot the plants with new soil. Remove the dead or yellowing leaves immediately as they fall because they may provide a new home for the soil mites.
Spray the Plants and Soil
To ensure that the soil is not conducive for the soil mites and stop them from coming back, you should spray the soil, as well as the plants. You can do this by using store-bought insecticides containing pyrethrin or you can make your own organic spray.
Some organic sprays that you can make at home very easily are:
- Garlic Spray: Put 3-4 cloves of garlic in 1 gallon (3.79 l) of water and leave it for 3-4 days. Mix in more water in this solution and spray it on the base of the plants and the soil.
- Cinnamon Solution: To 4 cups (0.95 l) of water add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and allow the cinnamon to settle. Pouring this solution on the soil can help to kill the soil mites and other bugs.
- Dishwashing Soap and Starch Solution: Mix 3-4 drops of dishwashing liquid to 4-5 tbsp. of starch and mix this with water. Spray this solution onto the soil directly. Avoid spraying the solution on any part of the plant.
Maintain Your Garden
Once you remove the soil mites, it is important to maintain your garden and potted plants to prevent the mites from returning. Remove all the fallen leaves in your garden to prevent them from decaying on the grass.
If you have a compost pile or tumbler, make sure that it is in an area away from the garden. And, before you repot your plants, spray the soil. This can help to prevent the soil mites from coming into the soil.
What Is the Difference Between Soil Mites and Spider Mites?
Soil mites are categorized under arthropods. They don’t have internal bones and their legs emerge from their body segments. They live in moist and damp soil and feed on algae, dead plants, dead insects, tiny worms and fungi.
Just around a millimeter in length, soil mites are very tiny and may be difficult to spot with your naked eye and you can see them as white or brown spots moving on the soil.
The most common of the soil mites is the oribatid. These have hard and rounded shells or exoskeletons and are also known as beetle mites or turtle mites.
Since they are found in lichen or moss, they are also sometimes called moss mites. Oribatid mites have a long lifespan and can live up to 3-4 years and sometimes even for 7 years.
Some other types of commonly found soil mites are:
- Astigmata Mites: These are usually found in nitrogen-rich soils.
- Gosamid Mites: These are predatory mites.
- Mesostigmata Mites: These predatory mites feed on small dead animals.
- Prostigmata Mites: These are a suborder of mites that feed differently.
Spider mites are actually arachnids, related to the spider. Spider mites are around 1 mm in length with pale white to brown bodies and 8 legs. These tiny indoor garden pests are not easy to see with the naked eye.
Spider mites can cause serious damage to your garden and plants and a large infestation of spider mites can damage the leaves of plants, which start developing small, dark reddish spots.
Spider mite infestation is also characterized by the appearance of fine spider webs appearing on the plants.
Are Soil Mites Harmful to Houseplants?
While soil mites are not harmful to houseplants as such, they can be a problem when they enter your home because they can be dangerous to humans. Soil mites are known to carry bacteria that cause diseases. Moreover, soil mites act as hosts and carry the eggs of tapeworms.
So, houseplants with soil mite infestation can expose you and your family to bacterial infections or tapeworms that these mites may carry. So, it is a good idea to eliminate soil mites from the soil in your potted plants immediately.
What Harm May Soil Mites Cause to Outdoor Plants?
Soil mites can be more a friend than an enemy when it comes to outdoor plants. They are not harmful to outdoor plants or the soil. In fact, they play an active role in the decomposition of organic matter in the topsoil, making it easier for the plants to absorb the nutrients from the soil.
Soil mites also help to aerate the soil, making it easier for the water to penetrate the soil, ensuring that the soil has sufficient moisture.
In fact, soil mites in your outdoor soil can be considered a good sign that your soil is healthy and is ideal for your plants.
Benefits and Dangers of Soil Mites
While soil mites may be considered pests by most people, according to agricultural experts and scientists, these are considered to play quite an important role in improving soil health.
Let’s look at the benefits and dangers of soil mites;
- They help in the decaying process of organic matter, which not only helps to improve the health of the soil but also improves the ability of the plants’ roots to absorb the nutrients from the soil more effectively.
- Known as essential nematodes, soil mites indicate that your soil is healthy.
- They help your plant to survive.
- Soil mites are considered to be pests and an infestation can be a nuisance.
- They can carry disease-causing bacteria and transmit diseases to humans.
- They carry eggs of parasites such as tapeworms, which are transmitted to humans.
In conclusion, while soil mites are often considered pests, they are also seen as helping the soil and ecosystem. So, if you’re not troubled by these critters, then you can let them be because when they run out of food, the soil mites too will depart to find new homes.
However, if you want to eliminate them, then you can use any of the methods we have discussed in our article. Nevertheless, whatever method you decide to use, your top priority should be the health of your soil and plants.