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Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
by rozy221 on February 16, 2005 08:47 PM
Oh no! I've been noticing bugs on some of my plants! They're about 1/8" long, kind of grey-ish, and they either fly or hop. I haven't noticed a whole lot of them, but I've seen them in 3 plants, mostly in the soil. Strangely, these are the 3 plants that I am plant sitting-I have never noticed these bugs on any of my own plants. These 3 plants have never been close to each other, so I'm wondering if the bugs spread just by being in the same house? Are my plants going to get them now too, even though they are not close to any of the infested ones? Please help! I've got 4 months until she comes home to figure this out. Oh ya-the plants are a spider, an ivy and a fittonia. Hope this helps. Thanks!
by Will Creed on February 17, 2005 03:24 AM
Hi Rozy,

The woes of plant-sitting! Evidently, those plants have springtails. They will not harm the plants, but they can easily spread to other plants. They are also often a symptom of soil that has been kept too moist.

Springtails feed on decaying organic matter found in potting mixes that are kept moist. Try to keep the soil as dry as possible. Remove all loose soil from the surface and put a light layer of sand or diatomaceous earth on the soil surface. These substances have sharp edges that carve up the critters. Another safe technique is to place inch slices of raw potato on the surface of the soil. Every day or so, discard the slices along with the springtails. Repeat this until there are no more pests on the potato.

Prevention is often the best remedy. Use sterile potting mixes that are free of pine bark. The potting mix should have ample drainage material, such as perlite so that it drains well and allows the soil to dry out frequently. Springtails can nearly always be traced back to overwatering and/or poor soil quality.

Good luck!
by rozy221 on February 17, 2005 05:30 PM
Wow! Thanks Will! I told my husband that you would know what to do-do you know everything about plants? I'm glad to hear that they're not harmful to the plants. I haven't seen very many of them yet-only 1 or 2 per plant, and I've had the plants for between 3 and 6 weeks. How contagious are they, though? Will my plants get them just from being in the same house with them? I don't think my friend ever kept these plants near each other in her house-that's why I was so surprised to see all of them infested. I will try replacing the loose soil, and I will try the potatoes, too, although I know I'm going to get some raised eyebrows from dh about that one! Thanks again for your help!
by Will Creed on February 18, 2005 03:22 AM

The springtails can deposit eggs in other pots of soil. Sometimes it is the soil that is already infested with the larvae that is the source of the problem. Getting to the origin of a pest problem is often an exercise in futility. It is best just to concentrate on eliminating the ones that you have.

Tell your DH that the potatoes are a new recipe you are working on!

by Cricket on February 18, 2005 07:16 AM
Tell your DH that the potatoes are a new recipe you are working on!

Springtail fried potatoes...mmmm, yummy! [Big Grin]

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