The Garden Helper

Helping Gardeners Grow Their Dreams since 1997.

No-dash-here, you've found The Real Garden Helper! Gardening on the Web since 1997

Need help identifing bugs

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
by Chae on April 09, 2004 07:29 AM
I am new to caring for house plants and I have noticed a couple of my plants have what looks like white/yellow mold on the soil. I was looking closer at this 'mold' and saw very tiny bugs but I can't identify them. There seems to be no signs of bugs on the plants themselves.

Any ideas of they are or how to get rid of them?

by weezie13 on April 09, 2004 07:34 AM
Hi Chae, [wayey] [wayey]
Welcome to The Garden Helpers' Forum!!!

I just wanted to Welcome you and to let you know I was going to move your post to the Houseplant section, we have alooot of houseplant gardener's here and they sometimes tend to stick to that general area, and they will best to be able to help you!!!


P.S. We have alot of Canadian gardeners here,
Stick around and check out all the old posts,
Do a FORUM SEARCH for that...
read up on the main pages of the site,
Do a GARDEN SEARCH for that, go to Recipes, Crafts and Hobbies, or check out Banter Hall to chat with the people here,
We're a nice "Cyber Community here"
And we're glad you found us!!!!

* * * *

Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

by Jiffymouse on April 09, 2004 07:42 AM
[wayey] hi chae [wayey] welcome to the garden helper. the only two things i can think of are either spider mites or fungas gnat larva. if it is spider mites, you will eventually see them on the plants. soap water will kill them. if it is fungus gnats, you will see them flying soon enough. for those, after verification, i'd put aquarium peebles for "mulch" on the top of the soil.

now, remember, i am just an amature, and guessing. we do have others who are more experienced than i who will be around in the next few days. keep checking around, and i hope you enjoy it here as much as we do!
by Chae on April 09, 2004 08:53 PM
Thanks for putting me here Weezie, I didn't know where to go.

Jiffymouse, I had a plant with fungus gnats last summer (my first plant) and these are different. This 'mold' has been around for a few weeks and I haven't seen anything flying around.

I have been looking around for info on spider mites and I think that could be my problem. Have you had problems with them before? Is there hope for my plants? I have read that they are very hard to get rid of and you often have to throw away your plant. I have Safer's Insecticidal Soap and plan to wash them off today.

The plants infected are a large Aloe Vera, I noticed them on this one first and a dieffenbachia. And maybe a spider plant that hangs winthin touching distance of the Aloe.
Thanks again for your help.

by Jiffymouse on April 09, 2004 09:34 PM
chae, i got rid of mine with one very thourough soaking/washing. but they were only on one plant (i bought the plant with them on it but couldn't resist the plant). the plant is fine and the infestation is gone. however, i isolated the affected plant until it was clear. plant is fine now.
by Chae on April 09, 2004 10:52 PM
Hi Jiffymouse,

What did you wash/soak your plant with? I have heard soapy water can work. I am hoping I found it before it got out of hand.
Thanks for the hope.

by ferroworks on April 09, 2004 11:56 PM
I used Schultz insecticide on a Dieffenbachia 'Camille' and the spider mites were eliminated, but the effect on the existing leaves was traumatic. Someone in this forum (Will the guru) recomended using an insecticide soap on spider mites, but i didn't wait long enough before spraying to listen to his advice. So I think you are on the right track.

Most of the leaves yellowed slightly and curled up a bunch. the overall health of the plant was not affected though, as new growth is plentiful just one month later. I sprayed a heavy dose of the spray all over the plant, underside of leaves and everything.... If they are spider mites, you should see little webs around the joints of the leaves with their stems. and you will be able to see them just sitting there on the underside of the leaves if you look carefully enough.

my advice is to test a few leaves of the affected area with the soap spray that you want to use, before washing the whole plant. keep it isolated from your other plants, as Jiffy said, but those little buggers don't reproduce too fast (i don't think you absolutely HAVE to do something about it right away.... you could probably spare a few days for testing, right?)

and remember, the sap from the dieffenbachia is toxic, so wash your hands after handeling the leaves. (I didn't know that for 3 years with my camille....lucky i guess)
by Jiffymouse on April 10, 2004 12:10 AM
Chae, here is a link to the prior discussion on the spider mites... darn... spider mites i think i used 1/2 tsp oil, (veg oil) 2 tsp dish soap (pamolive) and a gallon of water. it worked.
by lizheaemma on April 10, 2004 04:43 AM
Hmmmm? Maybe springtails? Where is Will when you need him? I have seen a plant with lots of green tiny soil critter before and here's what I did! Since I was spraying the plant for scale at the time with alchol I also gave them a pretty good spray (alchol 2part to 10 part water) and the next week when I returned to the business to water there were no more green bugs!

I am under that understanding that if they are springtails then they are very much like fungus gnats and love wet organic matter! Let the top of the soil dry out between watering and alway use good quality potting soil.

The method that I use with fungus gnat is to cover the soil with a course sand. The gnats lay there larva in the soil and once the soil is covered the sand cuts up the larva before they can get to the surface and breaks the cycle!

Hope that this helps!
by Buglady on April 10, 2004 06:07 AM
1. aloe are not known for having spider mite

2. Mold on soil surface usually is because soil is too moist.

3. If you had fungus gnats the adults would be flying around and the larva (that lives in the soil) you would have to dig in the soil and roots to find. For fungus gnat control I always use beneficial nematodes. Using sand keeps adults from laying more eggs. It does not kill the larva feeding on the roots in your soil. Nematodes will.

4. Spring tails are not too common on house plants, they would be jumping around too ... you would know if you had them

5. There are lots of other critters that do live in the soil that may be harmless. How does the plant look?

6. Be careful mixing up soap solutions. Some foliage plant can have phytotoxic reactions. Never mix more then a 1% solution of soaps.

* * * *
The Buglady
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans,
Educating the world... one bug at a time
by Chae on April 10, 2004 07:19 AM
I really appreciate everyones help. In case you haven't notice I do have a bit of a bug fear. [Embarrassed]

The history of my aloe. I bought it last summer and found it had fungus gnates. They drove me cazy buzzing all over the place. So at the advice of a friend, I removed it from the pot and completely washed it off with mild soapy water, then repotted it in good quality cactus soil. I have had no trouble with it until now.

A few weeks ago I noticed what kind of looked like rainbow sprinkles (like on cakes) but a creamy white/yellow color. It was only a couple of small (size of a dime)patches on the soil and in between the aloe stem and the soil. Can you tell I am new to gardening yet? A friend told me that it was probably just mold so I scooped it out and assumed I had been over watering so I slowed down. Last night I was trying to get it to straighten, it always leans over. And as I did this I noticed the mold inbetween the stem and soil again. So I took a flash light and looked closer and saw a couple little bug that seemed to be black in color and fast, I couldn't get a good look.

I examined the plant today in good light and couldn't see any bugs on it or on the soil. I didn't notice any webbing. There were some healed over cuts on it but I can't be sure if they are new because it did have some when I bought it. I washed it off any way and removed it from any other plants.

Thanks again for the help, with my bug issues this is a big deal for me.

by Canadian CrabGrass on April 10, 2004 07:53 AM
Hi there, Chae...

If they are indeed spider mites, I had very good luck with spraying a soapy solution ( 1 tablespoon Dawn dish soap to a quart of water ) twice, at 10 days interval. The plants affected were an arrowhead vine and a dracaena marginata - both were isolated during the treatment, and both recovered beautifully and are now healthy and growing.

Good luck with your plants !
by Will Creed on April 17, 2004 11:00 PM
Read what Liz and Bug Lady have written. They know what they are talking about!

Spider mites do NOT live in the soil, so treating spider mites should not be under consideration.

I suspect the bug or bugs that you saw are harmless and do not require treatment. Your obsession with bugs has caused you to overlook the real problem, which is the mold.

The presenxce of mold suggests that your soil is contaminated with mold spores and that you may be keeping the soil too moist. Scrape off the mold whenever it appears, including a bit of the surrounding soil. Let the soil dry out more in between waterings.

Active Garden Forum

Similar discussions:

Search The Garden Helper: