There are tiny creatures that live in the soil around your plants. Both soil mites and spider mites are microscopic bugs that feed on substances near or around plants, but they are not the same insects. What are these bugs, and should you eradicate them from your gardens or potted plants? Let’s find out.
What Are Soil Mites?
Soil mites are teeny bugs that feed on decomposing substances in the soil. You likely will never notice them in your gardens, as they are less than a millimeter long; but they are likely living in the soil. Soil mites are a natural part of the soil ecosystem and can provide benefits to your plants.
These mites are related to insects like spiders and ants, with legs protruding from their body. For soil mites identification, you would need to look very closely at the soil. There are over 20,000 different types of soil mites, but most have the same goal – eat decomposing organic matter in the soil.
If you wonder whether you have soil mites, you can check the soil in your potted plants or garden. These insects are hard to see with the naked eye, but they can be seen under a microscope or magnifying glass. Some mites may be on the leaves of the plants – look for small bugs on your houseplants.
Are Soil Mites Harmful?
Soil mites have their role in creating a healthy environment for plants. They consume organic material and make the nutrients easier for plants to absorb. When it comes to plant health, soil mites can be beneficial, but they can have an impact on humans.
Soil mites living outside in your garden rarely pose a threat to humans, but if they live in your indoor potted plants, it could be a concern. Most people are not fans of bugs sharing their home, and even these tiny insects can cause issues if they spread to other areas of your living space.
Soil mites prefer to live and eat decomposing substances in soil, but they will eat organic matter anywhere. This could be rotting wood, food debris or other items in your home. Soil mites can transmit disease and parasites to humans, which makes them undesirable in your home.
Eradicating Soil Mites
While many people are fine with soil mites living outside, if they invade the home, it may be time to remove them. There are some soil mites that can be harmful to plants and cause damage – it depends on the type of mite. Regardless of reason, if you want soil mites gone, there are a few different treatments.
You can use chemical mite killer or pesticide that can be sprayed on the soil and on plants to eradicate your soil mites. If you do not prefer chemicals or you have soil mites indoors, you may want to consider natural options to get rid of your soil mites. These can include:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Soil solarization
- Replace soil in potted plants
- Cinnamon mixture
- Garlic-infused spray
Using natural options to remove soil mites can reduce risks to humans and pets over pesticides, which is desirable by many gardeners and indoor plant lovers.
What Are Spider Mites?
Another bug you may find living in your potted plants and gardens are spider mites. These are also tiny insects that are difficult to see, but they are different than soil mites. Spider mites are related to other spiders – if you look at one under a microscope, you will see they have eight legs like their spider relatives.
Spider mites in soil are different from soil mites in their behavior. While both are tiny bugs that live around plants, when looking for spider mites and soil mites identification, you want to look at the effects on your plants. Spider mites feed on the plant, causing harm, while most soil mites feed on the soil.
Spider mites can be detrimental to any plants they feed on. They eat the chlorophyll in the plant’s stems and leaves, and they can deprive the plant of nutrients. You may be able to see holes in the stems, and leaves can become yellow or brown. These small mites often create webs between the leaves, helping you identify their presence.
Most gardeners and plant lovers will want to rid spider mites from soil in their garden and plotted plants. Like soil mites, there are both pesticides and natural options to kill these mites. The same treatments used for soil mites can be used to eradicate spider mites.
When it comes to the spider and soil mites living around your plants, you may want an expert to determine whether to eradicate them or not. Your local landscaper can help with spider or soil mites identification and recommend whether or not you should use pest control to remove these insects.