Are your much-loved house plants under soil mite invasion, and you have been searching how to drive the mites away? Then be rest assured, you have come to the right place, which will provide you with information from the first-hand experience on how to get rid of soil mites.
I’ll go through chemical and non-chemical control methods with their respective steps to be followed for success in getting rid of the mites. Also, the chemical method is further broken into ready-made pesticides and homemade remedies, so you do not have to worry about putting a strain on your wallet, spending much, or anything. What exactly are soil mites?
These are tiny living organisms or arthropods belonging to Arachnida family, the spider family. They can be found where there is dead plant or animal matter like the soil in their millions! They also feed on fungi, insects, tiny worms, algae, and molds. Shortly I shall take you through when they are considered harmful as well as when they are not.
When are soil mites harmful?
It is difficult to spot these organisms due to their size, usually an eighth of an inch in diameter thick and are about a millimeter long. However, if you observe tiny mobile white or brown spots on the ground, those are probably soil mites. The known types of soil mites are as follows:
- Oribatei – it is the most common, typically found in composts feeding on dead plant matter. Its turtle-like shell can identify it, thus the nickname “turtle mites.”
- Astigmata – you will mostly find these in nitrogen fertile soils.
- Mesostigmata – these are predators like and feed on small dead animals.
- Prostigmata – their behavior lies in between the ones I have mentioned.
To answer the question “When are the soil mites harmful?” mites are carriers of some bacteria which are quite deadly like the infectious bacteria. Some bacteria will also cause visible problems with your plant. In addition to this, and they carry tapeworm eggs till they find a host. Imagine what would happen if these eggs end up in your digestive tract; it gives you goosebumps, doesn’t it?
When are soil mites considered not harmful?
Soil mites breakdown dead plant and animal matter in the soil. This nourishes the soil with much-needed nutrients so that plants can thrive in those soils. Soil fertility experts do mention that presence of the mites in the ground is a good sign of soil fertility because it shows nutrients are being made, that the soil is fertile with organic matter. The mites also consume fungus. This is helpful to plants considering that some fungi infections are harmful to plants.
How to get rid of soil mites naturally?
Finally, I have reached that point I shall be answering that curious question on how to get rid of the mites. Soil mites are survivers, known to have survived even the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bomb explosion. Scientists attribute this to their ability to reuse their waste as food over and over again. However, you can get rid of the mites by executing the following:
1. Getting rid of your compost
This is the simplest way you should attempt before attempting others. As mentioned before, the mites thrive in compost; therefore, by moving it from your home, you would have cut off their food source, leaving them with no choice but to move and search for food elsewhere.
Oribatei type is known to live in wooden areas usually, but when it catches the scent of organic matter, it moves in search of it. Depending on regulations around your area, you could burn this compost as well. You can also go further as to avoiding throwing any organic waste into your indoor trash can. Remember, take away their source of food, and they will leave your house.
2. Removing and replacing the soil in your pot plants
The infested soil in your pot plants must be carefully removed without harming your plant and then replaced after removing some organic matter. To do this properly, follow the steps:
Carefully remove your plant from its pot to separate it from the uppermost soil. Take caution not to remove most of the ground being held by your roots to ensure fast recovery of the plant. If the plants are garden plants, only scoop the topper most soil because most soil mites can be found due to high organic content.
Step 2 :
Sift the soil through a wire strainer while removing any visible organic matter. This usually takes a few minutes to complete.
Step 3 :
After you are done, replace the sifted soil into the pots or around your garden plants. It will be even more effective if you replace it with some other sterile soil, which wasn’t originally there.
Note: To make this method effective, prune off any dying leaves from your plant; this includes those discolored.
3. Use of chemicals
For best results, you have to apply chemicals even if you had replaced the infected soil with a sterile one. This is because some mites might have hanged on to the plant during sifting. I recommend you use pesticides that contain pyrethrins for both your plant and the soil. Make sure that you follow the instructions carefully, paying particular attention to the mixing part.
A wrong mix can either be futile to your plant or may be ineffective in dealing with the mites. How much to apply? Just make sure your entire plant has been sprayed as well as soil radius around it. If pesticides are not your thing, then you can prepare homemade remedies using either garlic, cinnamon, or soap water. Do the following steps to make these three:
Cinnamon possesses both antiseptic and repellent properties. This enables it to drive away from the soil mites and also to kill any bacterium present.
1. Add one teaspoon of cinnamon into a container.
2. Add four cups of water into the container.
3. Stir well to make a solution.
4. Wait till the cinnamon settles down then spray the solution.
Dish soap and starch
Soap additives have anti-bacteria properties. This effectively kills bacteria that are parasitic to the soil mites.
1.Add three teaspoons of starch into a container.
2. Add about five cups of water into the container.
3. Add three more drops of dish wash soap into the container.
4. Stir to mix to form a solution thoroughly.
*Note that you will only need to apply this solution onto the soil.
Like cinnamon, garlic is well known for its antiseptic properties, which experts attribute to the presence of sulfur compounds. This attribute will enable it to effectively kill bacteria which might have been carried by the soil mites. In addition, its strong, pungent smell is also known to repel most pests; thus, it can also drive away from the bugs. To prepare the remedy, you will have to patiently leave three to four cloves of garlic that emerged in a gallon of water for a whole day. After which you can proceed to spray both the plant and the soil.
4. Keep hydroponic plants indoors
Since soil mites need soil as a medium to survive on, take this away by only introducing plants that do not need soil indoors. These are called hydroponic plants because they only need water to thrive in the absence of soil.
5. Keep your garden tidy
This can go a long way in saving your garden from soil mite infestation. Regularly make sure that you pick up or rake away any leaves, twigs, and dying plants lying on the ground as these can serve as mite food. Since some leaves can get stuck on the roof, you will have to get onto that ladder and sweep them off.
Make sure you do some scouting and inspections around your plants, prune off any dying leaves. Also, pick up and throw away dropped rotting fruits. Let me also further emphasize that you use non-chemical methods in conjunction with chemical ones.
Final Word On Getting Rid of Soil Mites
As you have seen, there are times soil mites are considered fores but are mostly branded as our little helpers in ecosystems. Thus you must be sure whether you are facing a soil mite problem; in my case, I would say that would be when they invade your house. Soil mites you find in your garden are best left if you want those greens to continue thriving.
Non-chemical control methods would best suit the going green campaigners as they do not kill the mites, but just remove them from your house. Let me also stress that prevention is better than cure. Keep yourself and loved ones safe by avoiding unnecessary hand contact with the soil of your beloved indoor or outdoor plants. In the event there is hand contact, thoroughly wash your hands with soap or sanitizer to kill that bacteria parasitic to soil mites.