Ugh what is this NOW crawling on my hoya?

greentoe357October 2, 2013

I was just digging around in my hoya because I saw new leaf growth, and I must have disturbed something because suddenly I noticed dozens of these little insects crawling everywhere in a particular spot, but mostly on the soil and on the rim of the pot. Clearly visible with the naked eye and also on the picture (dots on the black pot rim), and moving at a good pace (faster than how I've seen spider mites move on my other plants). You can even make out their little legs when you blow up the picture, which I could not do with spider mites.

What are they and how do I make them regret they showed up here?

This hoya is about to bloom for the first time ever - my first hoya to bloom, so I would like to disturb the plant as little as I possibly can. What would you do if you were me?

There are no visible signs of distress that the plant is exhibiting.

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greentoe357

Just thought of something. The mix is very fast draining, so I can easily submerge the whole thing (the pot or the whole plant, but remember the BUDS! THE BUDS!) into a soapy bath or something if that will encourage these critters to check out. I can also leave the buds out of the bath so that they are not submerged. There is only one peduncle with 4 buds on it, so it's doable if preferred.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 10:21PM
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greentoe357

Looks like you cannot zoom into my original photo, so I did this here.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 10:27PM
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pumpkineater2

They look kind of like baby spiders to me but I don't know.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 11:37PM
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pelargonium_gw

Might be baby spiders, is it possible to count their legs, maybe with a magnifying glass? If 8 legs, they are spiders, if 6, some kind of insects. I had some creepiecrawlies in the medium of my orchids once. Don't know what they were, but they didn't seem to harm the plant, just lived in the bark medium.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 4:48AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Soil mites are quite common in potting medium. The fact that they are all over potting mix and container should be a clue that they are not interested in your hoya.

I would not soak your plant is soapy dishwater. Rather, obtain some food/horticulture grade diatomaceous earth (DE), and sprinkle some generously on the surface of the soil. Apply a fresh layer every few weeks as it disappears into the potting mix. You'll soon see their numbers diminish.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 6:17AM
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greentoe357

> They look kind of like baby spiders to me but I don't know.

They do not move like spiders. Spiders I see in my apartment mostly sit around and only move when disturbed or when hunting, but these crawl steadily all the time. And there are no webs on the plant that I can see that spiders normally weave.

> If 8 legs, they are spiders, if 6, some kind of insects.

My magnifying glass is not strong enough for me to see. They have antennae relatively long compared to their body length that they feel the ground with as they crawl - those I can see pretty clearly.

> Soil mites are quite common in potting medium.

I googled images of soil mites - there are a million kinds, but some do have similar-looking antennae, from as little as I can see.

> The fact that they are all over potting mix and container should be a clue that they are not interested in your hoya.

Yes, I've actually relaxed a little since I saw them. The plant does not seem to mind. I am inclined to do nothing till it's done flowering, but would like to get them outta there after that. They are present in rather big numbers and looks like they live in the soil because they start crawling around when I disturb the soil with my finger.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 10:49AM
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dannie317

I've noticed very similar critters on the soil and bark of most my own plants (most of which have never been outdoors). They're very small, long, and skinny, and sometimes look silvery/colorless.

They don't seem to bother my plants at all, so I haven't gone to extreme measures to get rid of them. I do use Mosquito Bits to stave off fungus gnats, and I generously sprinkle diatomaceous earth into my plant media pretty often. These particular guys seem harmless.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 10:58AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Picture is still too small, unfortunately. Do they jump? If so, they might be springtails. (Harmless buggers that like moist decaying material.)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 12:06PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Green, those long "antennae " are legs. They extend far beyond the front of the body.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 6:37PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Green, those long "antennae " are legs. They extend far beyond the front of the body.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 6:38PM
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greentoe357

> Do they jump? If so, they might be springtails.

I have not seen them jump on soil, but then I gave another of my plants a bottom watering, and I noticed many dozens of the same critters floating in the water when I lifted the plant, and they would occasionally jump - it looked more like jerking because they'd only jump a fraction of an inch on the water surface and land nearby. I googled springtails, and they look different (prominent tail parts not present on mine) and do not jump nearly as high as springtails, and never when I touch them on dry land, only on water.

> Green, those long "antennae " are legs. They extend far beyond the front of the body.

I may be wrong, but I do not think I am. They keep feeling the ground with them as they move, up and down only, not helping propel themselves forward with those things like they would use legs. Legs would also move back and forth, but these things do not.

I gave the hoya a bottom soaking with just water as well while I was at it today - they like that anyway, and I wanted to see how many of the little buggers will wash out. MANY did. Probably a coincidence, but one of the four buds just opened this evening. YAY!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:32AM
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petrushka

you could try adding neem oil to water and drench with that. it won't kill them, but will slow down the reproduction.
i use indoor systemic from bonide - you should be able to get it .
you just sprinkle it on with a spoon and water in. it's imidacloprin, but much weaker then outdoor solutions. that would be the only way to get rid of them. they'll get into ALL of your pots.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 10:18AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Ok....these are soil mites, like it or not. :-) All of the appendages ARE legs, but aren't used exactly like you seem to think all legs on all creatures work. The longest pair are used sort of like antennae in that they check out the pathway in front of the mite.

There are many species of soil mites, each behave in different ways. This one resembles the images of the predatory mites I've seen images of....feeding on springtails, fungus gnat larvae, etc. They don't feed on plants.

Other soil mites are decomposers, feeding on the smaller bits of organic matter in our potting soils. They don't feed on plants.

There are others, but those two groups are the most likely to be found in a houseplant container. There is no need to use a systemic pesticide on these critters. Imidicloprid pesticides can actually cause an increase of the pest (phytophagous) mites.

The DE that I mentioned earlier would be a good product to use. Controlling arthropods is what horticultural grade DE is used for and has been for many years. Don't use the type of DE used for filtering.

The next time you repot, you might (pun!) treat the mix in advance by pouring several pots of boiling water through the pot, or placing a pile of the moistened mix in a clear garbage bag, close it tightly and let the hot summer sun pasturize it for a few days. I don't like to recommend oven or microwave baking.

You are just one of lots of people in these forums who have fretted over what had turned out to be harmless (beneficial) soil mites. No need to worry.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 12:09PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Thank you Rhizo!

Thank you for your years of experience and for freely giving us lessons on very valuable information...
I certainly appreciate trusted information forma trusted person..

MIke:-)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 9:10PM
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petrushka

i think i might've had them last spring in one pot - it was tented and isolated, and it was brand new orchid bark mix with sterile additions. so i think the bark carries the eggs. i also got a yellow slimy mold from 100% humidity in the same pot. think from bark too. i use orchid bark and it is supposed to be sterile, but obviously is not.
whether it is harmless or not - i just don't want it in my pots. i did get rid of both fairly easily with above mentioned systemic and neem drench (ultra mild vinegar solution for mold), applied sev times.
it's one thing when you live in a house with yard/garage/porch etc and quite another in the city in apt environment, when a lot of plants are bunched up together in the living room and there is very little room to spray/repot,etc.
my front bath (powder room) is my triage area - that needs to be cleaned spotless ev time i do anything there and it has to be presentable at the drop of the hat. i prefer to prevent, then to fight a war later.
the possibility of infection spread preclude any hesitation on my part. but it's a personal choice, as usual, of course.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 1:18PM
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greentoe357

> This one resembles the images of the predatory mites

Is this a good thing then that I have them if they feed on parasites that may harm the plants?

> I don't like to recommend oven or microwave baking.

I am curious - why not?

> You are just one of lots of people in these forums who have fretted over what had turned out to be harmless (beneficial) soil mites. No need to worry.

Yeah, I decided to do nothing for now.

> i think the bark carries the eggs.

Bark is the only organic component of the mix in those pots where I've seen these critters, so you might very well be right.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 2:21PM
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