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small bugs in houseplant soil

Adam Toner tonera at mediaone.net
Mon Nov 19 23:27:37 EST 2001

I have a number of houseplants - the standard ones like maranta, spider 
plant, rose, christmas cactus, snake plant, dwarf palm, etc. In almost 
every one of my 15+ pots I've noticed small (maybe 1mm) white bugs 
crawling around in the soil. They don't seem to fly or get on any other 
part of the plant, just in the soil. Sometimes I have to blow on the 
soil or push off the top layer to see these bugs.

I think they killed one of my plants, a bolivian jew, because when I 
investigated the dead plant (I thought too much light had killed it) I 
found a ton of these little pests in the soil. I promptly threw all of 
that away, and went on a crusade to eliminate them from my other plants. 
I haven't noticed anywhere near that many in the others, and I've been 
spraying insectide soap on the soil every week or so. I also repotted a 
few of my plants that needed repotting anyway, and I tried to get rid of 
as much of the old soil as I could.

Any idea what these are and how I can get rid of them? I looked in some 
books and on some web sites, and the closest match I can find are fungus 
gnats, but I really don't see them flying around.

Thanks for the help,

Adam Toner
Senior, Georgia Institute of Technology

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