Currently viewing the category: "Mites"

My friend and I have little white bugs living in the soil of our plant. When we water the plants they float to the top of the soil then go back in once the water goes down. My friend tried to put dish soap in the water but that didn’t kill them. How can we get rid of them without buying a spray for them.
I have asthma and my friend is disabled. It would be easier if we could get a home remedy. Can you please help us. In my last email I failed to mention that our plants are indoor plants there are 5 different kinds of plants we own and 3 of them have the white bugs.

Dear Annette,
Your letter doesn’t specify if you have a full on infestation or just a few bugs. If they are big enough to see, they are big enough to be removed manually when they float to the surface. If you are squeemish, try tweezers.
A better suggestion, especially if you have many bugs, is to use the old flea bitten fox trick. Remember the fable of the fox who had fleas, so he grabbed a stick in his mouth and went for a dip? The fleas moved to his head to stay dry, and as they moved to the stick, the crafty fox let go of the stick, and was rid of the fleas for a bit.
Try submerging your plants in a bucket of water, when the pests rise to the surface, pour off the water into the toilet, and let the plant dry out. You may need to do this several times to rid the plants of the pestilence.
Sorry your description was so vague, I can’t really identify your pest properly, but they might be a variety of soil mite. It is also possible that they are not actually harming the plant, and have just taken warm refuge in your dirt. Dirt in the garden is full of insects and their kin which are actually beneficial.
Good luck.

Update:  December 5, 2009
We just got a comment on this letter, and we are linking to a site with information on Soil Mites.

Dear Bug Man,
I received the following letter and thought it might make an interesting addition to your American Homebody column, “What’s That Bug?” It’s from my cousin Kaya Adams, who is currently residing in Kigali, Rwanda, acquainting herself with the local insect population.

Dear Lisa Anne,
I feel compelled to share my own critter tale in response to your disturbing mite write of July 4th Homebody. As you know, I too was a victim of tiny visitors a little over a year ago, while travelling to and from England. About two weeks after returning from a friend’s wedding in SC, I developed itchy little bumps in the webs between my fingers. Friends advised me this was probably eczema from the hard water in Britain, but moisturizers and hand creams did nothing. The over-the-counter pharmacist at Boots prescribed Cortisone, thinking it could be an allergic reaction. Instead of clearing up, it spread. Itching was bad enough during the day — wreaking havoc on my concentration at work — but it was utterly intolerable at night, when I would peel off every chafing layer and lie in bed trying to let mind overcome matter. After two weeks, I went to the doctor, who immediately told me I had been infested with scabies!

What, you might ask (as I did), are scabies? They are little burrowing parasites which cling to fabric fibers before puncturing your skin and crawling inside. They then lay their eggs into your bloodstream, enabling them to travel all through your body. The itching is worse at night in correspondence to their most active life cycle. The original animals eventually die and get sloughed off with your dead skin, but until they do, their bodies are visible as tiny grey dots in each bump. The bump is actually your body’s reaction to this foreign inhabitant. The only way to cure scabies is to coat your body