Finding bugs in your plants is never fun, especially in your houseplants. These bugs are not only potentially harming your plants but may infest your home if you aren’t careful. If you see tiny silver bugs jumping around in your houseplant soil, you may be in for a bit of a break.
If you find small silver, gray, or purple bugs around your houseplants that are jumping around, you likely have Springtails. To get rid of them, spread a layer of diatomaceous earth on top of your houseplant’s soil. These tiny silver bugs in houseplant soil are thankfully not as harmful as other insects can be.
But what are Springtails, how do you get rid of them, and are they dangerous for your home or health? We discuss all of that below and more, so keep reading!
What Do Springtails Look Like?
Springtails are fairly small insects, usually not more than half an inch in length. They are often silver, but can also be gray or purple. If you get close to them, you can see they have a forked tail that acts as a sort of spring, allowing them to propel forward in small bursts.
Due to the way they move around and their small size, they are also commonly referred to as ‘jumping dirt’.
They are also often found in leaf litter and soil outside and live in colder climates. If you’ve ever walked through a snowy area and seen what looked to be fleas in the snow, you may have come across snow fleas or Springtails
Are Springtails Bad For Houseplants?
But what if these insects get into your houseplants?
Since they usually only eat fungi, microbes, and decaying material, they don’t harm a healthy plant very often. They can actually provide health benefits to your plants by increasing the nutrients in the soil and eating the bad parts of plants or bacteria and fungus that could cause harm to your plant.
So for the most part, Springtails should never harm your plants. Like insects you get in your garden, they are just part of the natural life cycle of a plant and have a symbiotic relationship.
The only time this isn’t the case is when there are too many Springtails in one area. This can happen more often with indoor plants than outdoor ones, as there is only so much fungus, bacteria, and decaying material available.
When they start to run out of their normal food, they will begin to eat living plants in the meantime. This is when they can start to cause problems and get out of hand.
Should I Quarantine My Plant That Has Springtails?
It is always a good idea to quarantine plants that have insects on them. Even if you know what the insect is, such as Springtails, it helps to prevent further transmission of the insects and makes it easier to contain when you go to get rid of them.
It also helps in case you were wrong about the type of insect. If it ends up being a bug that is harmful to your plants, you don’t want your other houseplants to be in danger.
We prefer to quarantine any plant that shows signs of an infection or bugs. It’s a good habit to get into and allows you to make sure the problem is dealt with before it can spread or grow into a bigger issue.
How Do I Get Rid of Little Bugs in Houseplant Soil?
Just because these tiny silver bugs don’t often cause problems in the home, doesn’t mean that they should get to stay in your house.
If you can’t stand bugs in your home, don’t worry, Springtails can be easy to get rid of, especially if you catch them before they spread.
A simple layer of diatomaceous earth on top of your houseplant’s soil is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get rid of pesky pests. Plus, it’s natural and is nontoxic for people and other pets as long as you don’t get one with a filler.
Diatomaceous earth is fossilized diatoms, which are a form of aquatic insects, that are ground heavily into a powder. It usually contains around 80 percent silica and is a very effective tool for killing many insects.
Since it is silica, it dehydrates insects so fast that they die when coming into contact with it.
As long as the little Springtails are only in your soil and not in your home, they are easy to get rid of, and there is no need for any pesticides.
What Causes These Bugs in My Plants?
Springtails generally stay outside. However, if it is very dry, snowy, or flooded, they have to move to search for new areas to survive. They may get into your home through tiny cracks or an open window. If they find a suitable place to stay, such as the soil of your houseplant, they won’t waste any time making the area theirs.
Since Springtails like moist environments, they often start to overpopulate when the houseplant they are living in is overwatered. If the area is moist, they will thrive, but won’t have anywhere else to easily go to when food starts growing scarce.
How to Keep Bugs Out of My Soil?
The best way to keep bugs out of your soil is to keep the soil dry as often as possible. While you don’t want to underwater your plants, you should make sure the soil is drying out between waterings.
Additionally, items in your soil mix like peat and moss are great feeding grounds for bugs like Springtails. If you find yourself getting a lot of bugs, try changing out the soil. This should prevent them from making a home in your soil as often.
If you continue to get a lot of bugs, you can place and keep diatomaceous earth around your plants. The silica doesn’t harm the leaves, roots, or stems and it can increase aeration and moisture retention without making the soil waterlogged.
Generally, for indoor plants, you want about 15 to 20 percent diatomaceous earth in the soil in your pot. This isn’t a great idea for succulents and plants that do better with a lot less water than most, but the soil in their pots should be kept dry enough that bugs like Springtails aren’t a problem.
Can Springtails Damage My Home?
No, Springtails don’t cause damage to your home unless they are severely overpopulated. Springtails aren’t anything more than nuisance pests.
However, if you do find these tiny silver bugs in your house, they may be an indicator that something is wrong. These insects enjoy moist areas and tend to congregate where there is mold or fungi in a wet area.
If you start to see them around in your home in large numbers, it may be a sign that there is a leak or an area that is permanently damp in your home.
Will Springtails Harm Me or My Pets?
Since they have similar behaviors with jumping and crowding together, Springtails are often confused with fleas. Unlike fleas, they don’t harm people or animals or spread disease as they feed on fungi and plants rather than people.
A lot of people will farm Springtails, as they are good food for a lot of terrarium reptiles and amphibians. Plus, if they are left in the terrarium while your pet isn’t eating them, they may even clean up by taking care of mold and any waste that your frog or gecko leaves behind.
So if you have a little terrarium and want to capture these little bugs, you can do that too! Usually, all you need is something fermented like beer and a can to trap them in.
Springtails are tiny silver insects that, while not harmful to your plant or home usually, can be very annoying. They enjoy moisture and when it is too dry outside, will begin to move towards indoor plants for their moist soil.
To get rid of them, all you need to do is sprinkle diatomaceous soil around your plant and on the surface. Also, if you can, cut back on the amount of water your plant has so that the soil doesn’t stay moist.