Skip to Content

Small White Bugs — What They Are!

Small White Bugs — What They Are!

I always wanted a pretty garden with lots of greenery and flowers. My dream came true when I moved out of my tiny one-bedroom apartment to a small holding outside the city.

Now I could plant and learn and see the growth.

I thought everything was going well until that one day when I wondered what the heck are those small white bugs on my plants and soil? And more important than ever, how can I get rid of them, and fast?

I called my local nursery and described the kind of bug I was seeing. It turns out, there are various white creatures that can infect your plants.

Here’s a list of the small white bugs you can find in your garden and how to get rid of them.


Small White Bugs

If you see small white bugs on your plants or soil, it can be a variety of bugs like white soil mites, white spider mites, root aphids, grubs, mealybugs, springtails, or whiteflies. Most of these bugs are harmful and can cause your plant to yellow, wilt, and die.


Types of Small White Bugs On Plants and How to Get Rid of Them

There are a variety of small white bugs that can infest your plants and/or soil.

Identifying what bug it is isn’t easy. I’ll discuss the most popular kinds of white bugs that are small and how to get rid of them here:


Small White Bug 1: White Soil Mites

White Soil Mites

Photo Credit: @benplantingseeds on Instagram!

White soil mites are really, really small and you may not even notice them. The size of a pinhead, you can find these soil mites on the soil’s top few inches.

They are harmless to your plants and they break down fungi and algae in the soil for plants to easily absorb the nutrients from them. However, your soil can become unsightly, especially if these soil mites made their home in your houseplant.

To get rid of white soil mites:

  • Remove any dead plant matter.
  • Spray your plant with water.
  • Use a homemade natural pesticide made from dish soap, vinegar, neem oil, cinnamon, or garlic.
  • Place yellow sticky tape around your plant as this attracts the soil mites.


Small White Bug 2: White Spider Mites

White Spider Mites

Related to spiders, spider mites are sap-sucking insects that measure 1/50 of an inch and they produce a silken thread that forms cobwebs on your plants.

There’s a variety of spider mites, and while some are white, they can also be dark green, light green, orange, or red. These bugs like infesting blueberries, azaleas, roses, strawberries, and other plants.

To get rid of spider mites:

  • Blast the plant leaves with water to dislodge these bugs.
  • Use a miticide to reduce the spider mite population or treat your plants with a soap spray.


Small White Bug 3: Mealybugs


Another sap-sucking insect, mealybugs are small segmented insects that measure 1/20 to 1/5 of an inch. They have a white coating that looks like wax.

You can find mealybugs on sheaves, leaf axils, between fruits, and twining stems. They prefer ficus, cacti, succulents, orchids, jade plants, begonias, and various other plants.

A small infestation doesn’t do a lot of damage to your plant, but a large infestation weakens and kills the plant.

To get rid of mealybugs:

  • Remove them manually by swabbing them with a rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton swab.
  • Use oil spray or insecticidal soap.


Small White Bug 4: Springtails


Springtails are generally gray or yellow; however, they may look white-ish on your plant and this is why I included them in this list.

Springtails have tails that look like a fork and they can jump really high.

Your plants are technically safe if there are springtails in the soil since these bugs live off dead plant debris and mold. They like moist environments and they breed very fast.

To rid your garden of springtails:

  • Spray vinegar onto the springtails.
  • You can also treat your soil and plant with a homemade insecticide like neem oil or cedar oil.


Small White Bug 5: Grubs


Grubs are beetle larvae and they eat roots and organic matter that can be found in the soil.

Since these damage plant roots, they should be removed quickly.

To get rid of grubs:

  • Get nematodes, which will kill the grubs.
  • Change how you water your plants. Ensure the soil is thoroughly dry before you water.
  • Use an insecticide like neem oil or mix one-quart water with a tablespoon of liquid dish soap.


Small White Bug 6: Whiteflies


Whiteflies are small insects with wings that look like moths. They are tiny, measuring at 1/16 of an inch.

Whiteflies love chrysanthemums, fuchsia, geraniums, begonias, hibiscus, and a variety of veggie plants. Once they’ve set up camp among your plants, they suck the sap.

You can find these insects on the leaves’ underside. These leaves will turn yellow, wilt, and drop prematurely.

To get rid of whiteflies:

  • Use plastic mulch as a protective measure.
  • Place sticky pads near your plants to trap the whiteflies.
  • If there is a whitefly infestation, spray your plants with a high-pressure hose and an insecticide.


Small White Bug 7: Root Aphids

Root Aphids

Root aphids are often confused with mealybugs; however, these bugs are smaller. They have tailpipes and are pear-shaped.

These aphids are found in plant roots, and since these bugs feed on the roots, your plant can wilt, yellow, or die.

To get rid of root aphids:

  • Isolate the infested plant.
  • Repot your plant. Ensure you use new soil and sanitize your equipment before transplanting.


Frequently Asked Questions about Small White Bugs


Are white soil mites harmful to humans?

White soil mites are harmful to humans. They are carriers of bacteria that can be transmitted to people and cause diseases. They could carry parasite eggs like those of tapeworms, and if you’ve been infected, you’ll need to see your doctor for treatment to get rid of the tapeworms.


What do you call the white bugs looking like lint?

There are various white bugs that look like lint. These include mealybugs, woolly aphids, and whiteflies.


The Final Bug

I had a big infestation of mealybugs. They sapped my plant leaves until they were yellow because I didn’t notice the infestation soon enough.

To get rid of these small white bugs, I thoroughly sprayed my plant with neem oil and the mealybugs died.

Now I make sure to regularly check on my plants so I’ll only have a small infestation to deal with next time.