Plants are the perfect addition to any garden or house and can turn an area that was once drab and lifeless into a colorful paradise.
Unfortunately, being a plant parent does still have its downsides, as there isn’t a single plant that is immune to diseases or pests.
Everyone will at some point experience an issue with a plant, so it is handy to know how to identify the problem and what to do about it.
Bug infestations can particularly be troublesome, but with the right advice and proper care, it is a matter that can be easily resolved.
Read on to find out what to do if you find tiny white bugs in your plant’s soil.
Tiny White Bugs in Soil
If you have noticed tiny white bugs in your soil, it could be a result of a springtail, mealybug, or soil mite infestation. These pests live off of your plant and the debris in the soil, but can be easily removed by using pesticides or by simply repotting your plant into clean, fresh compost.
Tiny white bugs: What they really are
Springtails are aptly named for their fork-like tails, and their ability to jump up to 10 times their height.
They come in a variety of colors but usually take the form of a light grey or yellow.
They are very fast-breeding, often leaving your soil riddled if left unnoticed.
However, they won’t actually cause any harm to your plant. They live off of mold and dead plant debris and don’t attack the plant or its roots at all.
They thrive and breed in moist environments, which is why the soil of your plant is often perfect for them.
Although these pests aren’t necessarily problem-free, especially if your infested plant is a houseplant.
When the springtail’s environment becomes dry and no longer holds the moisture they need, they will quickly seek out a new location that fits their needs.
This means that they could decide to take up a new home in parts of your home, such as in damp carpets or floorboards.
Mealybugs are tiny and white and may look like pieces of lint that have been scattered in the soil.
Unlike springtails, mealybugs can hold an active threat to your plant. They feed off of nutrients, which they could eventually strip the soil of if left untreated.
This could lead to leaves wilting, flowers dropping, and any future growth becoming disrupted.
Mealybugs don’t however burrow or create nests in the soil. They prefer to live on the undersides of leaves, but choose to lay their eggs on the surface of the soil.
Soil mites are very tiny bugs that are barely even visible to the naked eye. They are around the size of a pinhead and may look like small moving dots in the soil.
They usually live on the top few inches of soil and are completely harmless to your plant. Soil mites are even thought to have benefits to soil, especially if found in compost heaps.
Soil mites help to break down algae and fungus, which can, in turn, which make the nutrients easier to be absorbed by the plants.
They can however become unsightly and create a mess, especially if they choose to invade a potted houseplant.
Causes why tiny white bugs live in the soil
Many different factors could have caused these pests to seek a home in the soil of your plant.
Most bugs are attracted to the moisture in the soil, as the more moisture the soil holds the more bacteria there will be for these bugs to feed off of.
Ensure that you are only watering your plant as and when it is needed, and that you are not overwatering it.
Overwatering leads to a variety of diseases, with root rot at the forefront, which will in turn make your plant weak and more susceptible to infestations.
It is also possible that the bugs could have already been residing in the soil when it was purchased.
You should only buy soil and compost from reputable sources, and thoroughly check the soil before you buy it
Getting rid of tiny white bugs in soil
Using organic pesticides
There are several chemical pesticides available for purchase from plant nurseries and garden centers, but I wouldn’t suggest using these unless your bug infestation has reached extreme lengths.
A solution of Neem oil and dish soap is a gentle solution that works very well on plant pests. Mix 2 tablespoons of oil and liquid soap in a gallon of water, and spray it all over the plant and soil.
Repeat the process every week, and the bugs should soon begin to disappear.
You can also choose to switch out the Neem oil for other solutions, such as Hydrogen Peroxide or even standard vegetable oil.
Transplanting your plant
If your infestation has reached an extreme, and no other solutions seem to keep them away then you should think about repotting your plant.
Start by carefully removing your plant from its soil, and then use water to thoroughly wash the roots.
You can then place your plant into a completely sanitized pot with fresh soil.
Ensure that you work on transplanting away from any other plants. This will minimize the risk of the bugs spreading.
Top tip – Always take great care when handling the roots of a plant, as damaging them could put your plant at risk of shock.
Preventing tiny white bug infestations
Tiny white bugs can appear in the soil of any plant, no matter how healthy they are. There are some interventions that you can do to prevent bug infestations.
Removing any fallen leaves and flowers from the soil will prevent the appearance of insects. Tiny white bugs often feed off of plant debris, are all more attracted to plants they can use as a good source of food.
I would additionally suggest creating a regular schedule in which you check all of your plants for signs of pests.
Most bugs can be found living in the top few inches of soil, so you only need to push back a small amount of soil to inspect your plant.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tiny White Bugs in Soil
How long will it take for my plant to recover from tiny white bugs in the soil?
Once the tiny white bugs are killed and removed, you should see almost instant signs of recovery.
Will using mulch attract tiny white bugs?
Whether or not you use mulch will not make a difference. You should be sure not to over-mulch your plant, as this will the soil too moist and could result in a bug infestation.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.