Soil mites are small creatures that live in the soil and feed on dead organic matter. They look like tiny bugs and have eight legs, which make them appear very similar to ticks or spiders.
Soil mites are also known as collembolans, and most species of these small insects have no interest in humans or plants. They only eat dead insects and plant debris. However, some species can cause problems for gardeners when they infest plants by damaging leaves or sucking out sap from young roots, causing them to wilt or die. Soil mites can also carry diseases such as tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV).
This article will discuss what soil mites are, how they affect plants (and how you can protect yours), and how to get rid of them naturally using homemade remedies and preventative measures so your garden stays pest-free all season long.
Table of Contents
What Are Soil Mites?
Soil mites are very small creatures that live in the soil. Most of them are less than 1 mm long and feed on fungi, algae, and other microscopic organisms. They don’t cause any harm to humans or plants and can be found in all types of soil.
Soil mites aren’t insects but belong to the same phylum (Arthropoda). They have two pairs of legs, segmented bodies with no antennae or wings, three pairs of simple eyes (ommatidia) on each side of their heads, and a pair of mouthparts called chelicerae used for feeding.
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Types of Soil Mites
You’ve probably heard of soil mites, but do you know what type of soil mite is living in your garden? Do you even want to know? When it comes to these tiny creatures and their impact on your plants, there are some things we should talk about.
Soil mites are arachnids that live in the soil and feed on fungi and decaying plant matter. The most common type of mite is a springtail (order Collembola), found throughout North America. Springtails look like tiny fleas with long antennae. They are usually less than 1/8 inch long (3 mm) and have either six or eight legs. Some springtails are beneficial because they eat bacteria or fungi that can infect plants, but other species may damage the roots of your crop plants by eating them!
Other types include:
Cryptostigmata: These mites are also known as false spider mites because they look like tiny spiders. These tiny mites feed on the underside of leaves and cause damage similar to that caused by true spider mites—but they don’t spin webs. They can be found in most parts of the U.S., but they are more common in warmer climates than colder ones.
Pseudothecacarus: These mites have one pair of legs, unlike other soil mites. They live on the surface of plant roots and feed on fungi. If their population gets too high, they can cause root rot by damaging the roots’ ability to absorb water and nutrients.
Eotetranychus: These mites are more commonly known as citrus thrips. They are tiny, about 1/20 inch (0.5 mm) long, but they can cause severe damage to young leaves and fruit that’s still developing.
Phytoseiidae: These are the most common types of mites found in gardens. They are predators, which means they eat other insects, and they can feed on both beneficial and harmful species. They are important to have in your garden because they help keep pest populations under control.
Amblyseius andersoni: These mites are tiny predators that feed on aphids. They are often sold as beneficial insects because they are so effective at controlling pests in gardens, but they can also cause damage to plants if there are too many of them.
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How to Prevent Soil Mites from Infesting the Plants?
- Keeping the soil dry is a good way to prevent soil mites from infesting your plants. If you have an irrigation system and you water in the evening, this will help keep the soil from getting too moist and hence prevent mites from growing in it.
- Another way to prevent mites from invading your garden is to use mulch around plants. Mulches can be made from organic matter such as wood shavings, bark, hay, or straw. They insulate the ground against extreme temperatures and moisture fluctuations which would otherwise favor the growth of these pests on your plant roots.
How to Get Rid of Soil Mites?
Soil mites are small creatures that live in the soil. They do not have legs and cannot fly or jump, but they can eat the roots of your plants. Soil mites are hard to see. Their bodies are just 1/20th of an inch long. Looking at your plants’ leaves and stems, you can tell if you have soil mites. If there is damage along the length of these parts of a plant, it could mean that something has been eating them—soil mites like to eat from the tip down instead of from root to stem (as aphids do).
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Soil Mite Control Options:
If you find damage on your plants’ leaves and think a pest as this one might cause it, there are several options for how you can control this pest:
- Using a commercial insecticide, you can try to get rid of the soil mites. If you choose this method, spray it on your plants’ leaves from the bottom up and make sure that you thoroughly cover all of them. You can also try washing your plants with water—this may help eliminate some soil mites clinging to their leaves.
- If you have a few pots or hanging baskets, you can use a spray bottle filled with water mixed with liquid dish soap. Spray the mixture onto your plant and let it sit for about 5 minutes before washing off the plant and soil using warm water (you don’t want to shock the roots). This will kill most of the mites on contact but may not eliminate all of them.
- You can also try spraying your garden plants with insecticidal soap or neem oil if they grow indoors. These products work by suffocating mites and other insects when they come into contact with them while still being safe enough for humans and pets if accidentally ingested. However, these products won’t stop new pests from returning after treatment because they do not kill eggs or larvae, so expect to repeat this process every few weeks until there aren’t any more visible signs of pests left inside your houseplants!
- Diatomaceous earth is another option for dealing with these tiny pests since it’s an abrasive substance that destroys their shells when applied topically onto foliage. However, it can harm pets, so keep those curious noses away from those dusty white sprinkles. You will need plenty of patience here, too, since this product only works if applied properly every few days, at least until no more mites remain visible on plant leaves.
If you have a lot of soil mites, you can try using diatomaceous earth to kill them. This substance is made up of tiny particles that look like little crystals; it works by piercing the bodies of insects and causing them to dehydrate.
Diatomaceous earth can be used in many ways to kill soil mites; some people sprinkle it on top of their plants’ leaves, while others use it as a spray. Once you have applied diatomaceous earth to your plant’s leaves and stems, ensure that you thoroughly water them so the substance gets into their roots.
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Homemade “Anti-Mite” Recipes
If you seriously want to get rid of soil mites organically, there are many things you can do. To keep them from getting into your house in the first place, try using plastic on top of the ground instead of grass. You can also spray diatomaceous earth or soap and water around the outside of your house if you notice a lot of soil mites.
If you find yourself infested with soil mites but don’t want to use pesticides, here are some natural remedies that may work:
- Soap and Water – Soap and water is one way to kill these tiny pests. Just pour it everywhere they are hiding (in cracks of walls) or on plants infected with their eggs/spores and watch them shrivel up like zombies. As an added bonus, this will leave no residue, so all you have left are dead bodies lying everywhere.
- Neem Oil – This product works great because it comes from trees and won’t harm humans. It is also safe for plants, making it perfect for anyone who doesn’t want chemicals sprayed all over everything.
- Garlic & Pepper Spray – The common method people recommend nowadays involves mixing hot pepper or cayenne powder with garlic powder, then putting some on cotton balls before placing them throughout affected areas where these pests might hide during daylight hours, such as under furniture legs, etc. This should keep away both insects and mice alike!
- Borax – Borax is another great option because it’s cheap and can be found in most grocery stores. It kills by dehydration, so just sprinkle some around the infested areas, then let nature take care of the rest!
- Citrus Oil – This is a great option because it’s natural and won’t harm anyone or anything. Just spray it around the house where you have seen these bugs hanging out, then let nature take care of them.
- Citrus oil can also be mixed with other ingredients to make a potent spray that will keep away ants and other pests. A common recipe involves mixing citrus oil with water and adding dish soap or vinegar to create an even stronger solution. You could also use rubbing alcohol instead of water if you wanted something more powerful! The best part about using citrus oil is that it’s completely safe for humans, animals, and plants. So there is no risk of harming anyone or anything else in your home.
Soil Mite Treatment
You can’t see soil mites with the naked eye, but they live in your soil. These tiny creatures feed on organic matter, and plant roots, which leads them to burrow a little bit deeper into the ground than most other insects tend to go. That’s good news if you are interested in understanding more about how they behave in nature—but it’s also bad news if you are gardening or farming because having these bugs around can cause significant damage to your plants!
Soil mite treatment is important in managing pests—but how do we treat them? First things first: make sure you know what kind of pest problem you are dealing with before taking any action. Once you have identified whether this pest is beneficial or harmful, consider its life cycle—how long does it take for each stage from egg laying to adult reaching maturity? This will help determine what kind of control methods might work best against this type of vermin infestation.
Soil mites can be a frustrating problem for gardeners, and you must know how to get rid of them. If you have tried your best to get rid of them naturally but are still facing problems, we recommend calling an exterminator.