Worms in my house plant

ldmv98August 20, 2008

I found some thread like worms in the drip pan of my Ficus tree. Does anyone know what this is? It definitely is NOT earthworms. It's some sore of parasite or larvae. I'm guilty of over watering, but I've been trying to do better. I have never seen this before. I'm wondering if it's harmful to humans. Again, they are thread like. Imagine a piece of thread wiggling in the drip pan... that's what it looks like. Can you help me?


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Cant identify what you may have but let's assume it shouldn't be there so let's get rid of them.

Do the immersion method. Take the plant to where it can be dunked totally in water. a laundry tub is a good place but maybe a large bucket will do.
Use tepid water, no need to shock the plant.

Wait until the bubbles stop. This tells you the entire soil is water-filled and the air pockets have fully been immersed.
Any air breathing insect has to come to the surface where you simply gather them and wash them down the drain.

Treat this as a thorough watering and allow the plant to dry down as you would a normal practice.

This leaching method should not be used more than 2 or 3 times a year. The roots should not be allowed to be soaked so much too often.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 5:04PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sounds like horsehair worms to me. If so, they are absolutely harmless to anything but the crickets and grasshoppers that they parasitize. And they are aquatic, so the 'immersion method' is useless.

Their presence in your plant simply means that at some time, a cricket (or other similar insect) died in the container or soil and the parasitic nematode-like worms were released. In truth, they are a beneficial animal.

Feel better?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 1:55PM
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Yes, I do feel better. I have been searching the internet trying to find out what type of pest this is in my house plant.
I do understand they are harmless, but how do I remove them from my house plant? I read online they can lay thousands of eggs, I surely don't want more of them.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 8:28AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've heard back from Linda saying that what she has are, indeed, horsehair worms. What I would do is simply dump the saucer out into a nearby mud puddle (or similiar) so that the parasites can produce future generations of grasshopper control.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 1:41PM
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Hi, I purchased a house plant from the store and replanted it using store potting soil. A few weeks later, I noticed a centipede like worm that curls into a ball and has a hard exoskeleton on the surface of the potting soil. I dug through the soil, and there are hundreds of them. I also see a few fruit like flies buzzing around my plant. I read online to use two tablespoons of laundry detergent mixed with water to kill them. after I did this, all they did was come to the top of the soil, and start climbing up my plant. HELP.... what should I do??? I love my plant but these bugs are FEAKING me out!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 10:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Repot your plant. And complain strongly to 'the store' from which you purchased this plant. There is no excuse for selling a plant loaded with millipedes and fungus gnats.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 11:43PM
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Thank you for your response. You are right, they are Fungus Gnats. I will complain. Is there anyway to get rig of these bugs. I found a few big ones roaming my home..... ewww.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 8:15AM
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I recently started taking my house plants outside during the day to sun. The first day I took them out, I pulled out the dead leaves and stems. One of my plants, a tree that I think is a type of palm, has dead stems on it. I started cutting off these stems and realized that there are little worms that kinda look like a larger version of maggots. They are hollowing out the trunk of my tree and killing it. Please help I really love my tree.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 5:58PM
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is there any other way to get rid of these soil worms-a spray or something

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 6:45AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Jess & Margo - in both cases it's considered proper procedure to first identify the pest and then take the least noxious route to bringing their numbers to an acceptable level, but in both of your cases I think there is a common remedy.

Bayer makes topical sprays that contain a systemic insecticide (Imidacloprid) which is very safe (for mammals) and would have a low chance of harming any beneficials if sprayed on houseplants outdoors. Alternately, there are a number of granular products meant to be applied to the soil that can be used indoors, and that also contain Imidacloprid, but the spray is more effective on woody plants.

As always - be sure to read & follow label instructions carefully.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Horsehair worms aren't going to reproduce in your houseplants, because they need a host to parasitize, so unless you have crickets or grasshoppers in your house, they'll die off. As for pests in plants, save your complaints. I have yet to find any place that sells tropical plants that doesn't have fungus gnats somewhere in the place. I'm not affraid of buying a plant with fungus gnats flying around, but that's where it stops. I always take the rootball out of the pot of any plant I want, and make sure there is no bugs in there. I also check all foliage and stems thouroughly as well. For the gnats, if a plants has some, I'll make sure to NOT bring it in my house, until I've cleaned and repotted it outside, so the gnats can go fly away somewhere out there. Oh, and a note, since I repotted ALL my plants with Al's 5-1-1 and gritty mixes, I haven't seen a single fungus gnat, and I used to have plenty of them. I am very cautious with my plants and leaving them outside, to try & avoid bringing bugs in. I have a large deck, and that's as far as some go. Never would I put a plants out on the lawn or in the yard somewhere, because that to me is just inviting bugs in.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 11:09AM
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How about adding a drop or two of bleach or liquid drano when you water your plants? I'd be very careful with this, I suspect that if you add in more than a very small amount, you'll damage the roots of your plant, and you'll risk damaging or killing your plant- I am NOT a biologist, I have only a layperson's knowledge here, but in terms of pH and water chemistry, I suspect that plants can tolerate a few drops of some of the acids (such as HCl) which are found in household products, and even a couple of drops of those would probably kill your worms pretty quickly....
I've not tried this yet, but the next time I see worms in the soil of my houseplants, I might experiment with this....

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 8:25PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Scott, welcome to Gardenweb! That would put your PH off the charts. I wouldn't do that to any plant I like.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 8:21AM
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Just out of curiosity, what would the application of Seven Dust do ? I've used it in the garden but not on house plants. In my case, the little white worms are coming out of pots I have small fig plants planted in ?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 9:23PM
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Hi, I have recently joined and although I am trained as a florist and know about flowers, soil is a mystery. I bought a Pineapple Lily/Eucomis plant for my mum and dad for their garden, they never got round to planting it so it sat in its put for about a year. Its still healthy but when I moved it into a different pot I noticed aload of Slater bugs living inside. After going through the soil picking them out, I noticed there were some worms in there, they are tiny probably about 1cm in size and very thin. They were either white or a very pale green. Was just wondering what these worms are, if they are harmful to the plant and if I can get rid of them as ideally I would like to put the plant inside.

I have attached an image below of what they kind of look like. This photo was not taken by me as my camera isn't that good and you couldn't see them but after googling a few things I found this image which is very similar to what they look like. If anyone has any ideas please let me know as I would hate to see this beautiful plant die if it can be saved. Thanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: worms.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 2:43PM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

Maybe fungus gnat larvae? If the plant was outside it's hard to tell without pic. Try neem oil, that should help.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 6:46PM
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