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Home Lifestyle Gardening Are Soil Mites Good or Bad For Your Potted Plants

Are Soil Mites Good or Bad For Your Potted Plants

If you are an outdoor or indoor plant lover, probably, it’s common to see soil mites in your plant pots. In outdoor plants, soil mites appear as the most common gardening challenge.

You can easily find them in the top layer of the soil. Are soil mites dangerous or beneficial for plants or soil?

Well, different types of soil mites are harmful, beneficial, or have an effect. If we talk about their usefulness, the decomposition process is their main advantage. However, if they are habitant of indoor plants, they can pose a human health threat. Especially, soil mites host parasites like tapeworms.

Soil Mites as Organic Matter Decaying Agents

Soil mites are tiny bugs also known as “organic matter decaying agents.” Their favorite food is natural decaying material such as plant leaves, molds, and mosses. However, soil mites love to hide in compost layers and soil pots.  These niches provide them their natural feed like dead leaves, fungi, tiny insects, algae, and small live worms.

Types of Soil Mites

Currently, there are 80000 different types of soil mites in the world. This massive number of tiny creatures has been divided into four different types of soils.

Mesostigmata

They are predator mites as they commonly feed minor animals

Astigmata

These mites are nitrogen lovers mainly found in soil rich in nitrogen, such as agriculture farm soil.

Prostigmata

This group is a suborder of mites that has a very diverse feeding pattern.

Oribatei

This is the most dominant group of soil mites. You can easily recognize them due to their large shell-like body. Moreover, oribatei also move as the turtle, often known as “turtle mites.” They are microscopic in size as they can’t grow more than one millimeter. Oribatei’s most favorite food is dead plant litter, tiny dead insects, live worms, algae, and fungi.

The Best Way to Identify your Soils Mites Nature

Usually, it’s tough to identify the type of mites in your soil due to their small size. As you will just see them as minute spots are crawling around the ground.

The best way to recognize the type of soil mites is a microscope. By using a microscope, you can identify by their specific physical characteristics.

If your soil is high in nitrogen minerals, most likely Astigmata variety will be there.

Beneficial Effects of Soil Mites

  • It is well documented that most soil mites have beneficial effects on soil and biodiversity.
  • Help in decomposition process to break down decaying organic matter
  • Help plants to absorb nutrients by their roots from decaying organic matter
  • Enhance biodiversity
  • Help in the survival of plants by feeding them

Harmful Effects of Soil Mites

  • A potential source of irritation or nuisance
  • Act as host of various pathogenic bacteria and transmit diseases to humans
  • Act as parasites carrier, especially tapeworm

Proactive Soil Mites Preventive Measures

You can easily control soil mites if you proactively take some measures

Proper storage of Compost Bags

  • Always keep compost bags in dry or damp places.
  • Make sure compost bags are tightly sealed

Proper Plant Collection

  • Plant shops or gardens are the primary sources of soil mites from infected plants.
  • Choose plants with proper soil conditions

Regular Plants Check-up

  • Plants are living organisms like us. They need proper care and attention
  • If you observe any symptoms, immediately separate that plant pot from others

Soil Mites Mitigation Strategies

If you notice that there are too many soil mites around the indoor and outdoor plants, you can use specific effective strategies to reduce their population.

Take Care of Soil

You know that soil mites usually feed on plant debris, molds, and moss. Soil filtration is a straightforward method to remove soil mites. For this purpose, you have to just dirt out your pot. But, make sure, don’t destroy delicate plant roots. Otherwise, this approach can kill your plants. Besides this, it’s essential to check if there is any decaying matter still left in a plant pot.

Re-pot the Soil

After proper filtration of soil, it’s time to re-pot the soil. It’s better if you have new or sterilized soil or compost. But, old soil is also a good option. Gentle and careful work is significant here. A slight mistake can cause the loss of your plant.

It is necessary to check if any plant part like leaves can again fall in soil or compost during this whole transformation process. This will again become a potential source of soil mite infestation.

Proper Spray

Sometimes, due to improper dirt out or complete plant debris removal, you may see soil mites again in your plant pots. Then spray is the most effective way to control these bugs. There are different options available for spray as organic and inorganic chemicals.

The efficiency of spray chemicals is variable. It is recommended that you choose appropriate spray compounds according to your plant situation. Here is a list of the most commonly used natural and synthetic compounds that you can opt for.

Organic Pesticides

Garlic-Based Solution

Garlic is a natural antimicrobial that can be used to control soil mites. Its predatory activity is highly effective in protecting the plant’s soil.

To prepare a Garlic-Based Solution, soak about four garlic cloves in a gallon of water for 3-4 days. After that, you can dilute this garlic solution with sterilized water.

Cinnamon Mixture

Cinnamon is a natural pesticide you can use to control soil mites successfully. It’s specifically effective to combat the bug’s infestation. Its application process is very easy.

You can prepare a mixture of cinnamon with water by using 1tablespoon: 200mL water ratio. This mixture can be used as an alternative to water needs. As cinnamon mixture will percolate into soil compost to inhibit soil mite’s infestation. This organic pesticide can be applied three times to observe its pronounced effects on soil motes.

Neem Oil

Neem oil consists of a naturally occurring pesticidal compound called Azadirachtin. This compound is beneficial to control a wide variety of soil mites and other plant insects. Neem oil mainly kills soil mites slowly through its growth inhibition mechanism. Additionally, Neem oil can be used as a soil drench to control belowground pests.

Horticulture Soap

This is the most economical and commonly available organic pesticide in the market. But, you should be very careful as it’s only used when the infestation rate is very high.

The interesting fact is that you can easily prepare this natural mixture by yourself. You just need three ingredients, a tree, nut-based or vegetable oil, flat dishwashing soap, and tap water. The optimum composition consists of 1 portion of flat soap: 2 portion oil: 8 portion water.

You can apply this organic soap a maximum of 4 times. Each time only uses horticulture soap when irrigation has already been done. As it may cause a root burning issue with direct application.

Synthetic Pesticides

Hydrogen Peroxide

This chemical pesticide is an expensive option. There are several online and in-store options to buy this chemical.

You have to do a minimum of three proper irrigations before this chemical incorporation. Too much use of hydrogen peroxide can destroy your plants and soil. Overall, it has immediate action against soil mites.

Bottom-Line

Soil mites are tiny arthropods with both positive and negative aspects. But, in general, it is considered that soil mites cause no problem to your plants. Although few types of soil mites can pose a threat to both plants and humans.

Proper take care of outdoor and indoor plants can easily manage this problem. Negligence of proper plant care is the main reason for soil mites over the infestation.

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