Soil mites are microarthropods that are related to spiders, there are different types of soil mites, and the most common type is the oribatids.
So when you see a small insect running around your house plant, you are not sure if it is a harmless soil mite or a harmful root aphid; this is because you cannot tell the difference.
In this article, you will learn more about soil mites. Their types, how to get rid of them, how to know if you have soil mites or root aphids, and how to tell these soil mites apart from root aphids.
What are Soil Mites
Soil mites are invertebrate arthropods that are closely related to spiders. They can be hard to spot as they have a diameter of 0.25mm to 2mm; in other words, you may need a microscope to get a good look at them.
According to scientists, there may be at least 80,000 different species of these insects, all of which have different characteristics.
Soil mites are mostly white or brown, but others can vary in orange, pink, yellow, black, green, or red. Some soil mites eat fungi and other decaying organic matter, while others are predators that feed on pests and eggs of insects. Soil mites are commonly found in your potted plants sitting on your patio or in your yard.
Root aphids are from the family phylloxera. They reproduce asexually and store their eggs in the soil during winter and on leaves and steps during warm periods. Roots aphids have a diameter of 38mm to 64mm; they can be seen properly if a closer look is taken.
Root aphids are usually brown or white; they vary in colors like dark green, black, gray, or yellow. These sap-sucking pests are globally distributed and can cause injury to different parts of a plant; they have a soft and round body with modified sucking parts.
Types of soil mites
There are about 18,000 to 20,000 popular species of soil mites, but scientists have confirmed that there are at least 80,000 species of soil mites. Here are some common soil mites that you are most likely to find in your potted plant or yard.
This type of soil mite can be classified under predators. They feed on spider mites, other smaller arthropods, and their eggs. On occasions, they also feed on nematodes. Some homeowners or gardeners use these soil mites as a biological control for pests.
These parasitic mites can mostly be found in farms with rich, moist, organic soils that contain lots of nitrogen. They are soft and white, and they dwell on both vertebrates and invertebrates as a parasite.
These types of soil mites reproduce rapidly and can be classified under scavengers or predators. These fast-moving mites can also feed on plants.
These are the most common type of soil mites that can be found in your potted plants or your yard. They can be referred to as turtle mites because of their shape, and they are also called box mites because of the flaps on their body that close tightly. These mites are drawn to dead and decaying matter like dead leaves, fungi, molds, dead plants parts, and dead insects.
They dispose of their waste in the soil rich in calcium as they slowly walk. This way, more nutrient is added to the soil. They also take a long time to reproduce, at about 2 to 7 years, making them less in number than the other soil mites.
Difference Between Soil mites and Root Aphids
When you see tiny bugs running around your home plant, you can’t tell if it’s a beneficial soil mite or a harmful root aphid; here are some differences to help tell them apart.
Based on the identification, soil mites are very tiny and can barely be seen with the bare as their diameter ranges from 0.25mm to 2mm, whereas root aphids are visible and can easily be spotted. Root aphids have a diameter that ranges from 38mm to 64mm.
The most common types of soil mites and root aphids are usually white or brown. But some soil mites can be black or red, while some root aphids can be gray. While root aphids are classified as insects, soil mites are not insects. Soil mites are arthropods and are closely related to spiders and ticks as arachnids.
An adult soil mite possesses eight legs and no antennae, but an adult root aphid possesses six legs with two antennas shorter than a regular aphid.
Soil mites usually dwell below the soil surface and do not climb leaves; only spider mites climb trees. Soil mites walk on the soil surface sometimes but retreat into the soil; root aphids, on the other hand, dwell on the surface of the soil and are natural climbers.
Root aphids leave behind a white, chalky honeydew on roots and stem as they feed, but soil mites leave evidence of their presence unless they are caught walking on the soil surface. Ants often feed on soil miles but protect root aphids because their honeydew droppings are desirable to the ants.
Soil mites prefer to dwell in moist compost or dark soil areas; the most supportive temperature for soil mites lies between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
Root aphids prefer a warm environment with a temperature between 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter, root aphids lay their numerous eggs in the soil, and during warm periods, they lay their eggs on leaves and stems, soil mites lay very few eggs in the soil, and sometimes they carry their eggs.
Most of all, soil mites are harmless to plants and add nutrients to the soil; they eat fungi, molds, dead leaves, and even eliminate pests.
On the other hand, Root aphids cause stunted growth in plants as they pierce and suck nutrients out of the plant’s root, stems, rhizomes, and bulbs. This action by root aphids also makes plants susceptible to plant disease, so generally, soil mites are beneficial to plants, whereas root aphids are harmful to plants.
What Causes Soil Mites?
Soil mites are attracted to moist compost. If your home or potted plant is moist and contains high nitrogen, you will likely find soil mites there.
Also, when your potted plant is just the right temperature to accommodate soil mites, they start to take shelter there. Soil mites settle in an environment that falls between 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 63 degrees Fahrenheit ( 13°C to 17°C).
How do You Know if a Root has Aphids?
If your plant growth has been hindered, or you have observed dead leaves, you should check if your plant has aphids. But knowing if root aphids are present can be difficult.
Sometimes you can easily spot them walking on the surface of the soil, and other times the only identification that root aphids are present is the chalky, white honeydew that is left on your soil; ants are attracted to this honeydew.
How Do You Know if You Have Soil Mites?
It is hard to detect them, unlike root aphids, so you need to observe them closely.
Soil mites often walk on the surface of the soil, so you will be able to identify them; the only problem is that they are so tiny they may not be very visible.
You will need to use a digital microscope to see a soil mite and observe its physical features. They have a soft round body with no antennae, eight legs and look similar to ticks.
Should I Get Rid of Soil Mites?
Common mites are harmless and are considered beneficial to the soil. They feed on fungi, molds, and decaying matter, which are considered biological ways of solving plant problems.
Their waste product deposited in the soil is considered rich in calcium and will help enrich the soil. Some predatory soil mites feed on pests, thus reducing their number on your potted plant. With all these advantages of soil mite, you should not get rid of them.
How to Get Rid of Soil Mites
The natural way of getting rid of soil mites in your potted plants is to remove the dirt or soil from the pot and pick out the dead or decaying matter. Soil mites seem to be attracted to these things, so getting rid of them should free you from soil mites.
An easier but unnatural method is by using liquid soap. Add a few drops of liquid soap to water, transfer this water into a spray bottle and spray this solution on the surface of the soil.
This would be rid of soil mites, but you should clean off the liquid soap from another part of the plant that has come in contact with him.
Best Products for Getting Rid of Root Aphids
Root aphids are a nuisance, and the most efficient way of neem eliminating them is by using pesticides. Here are some of the best products for getting rid of soil mites.
You should purchase products that contain Azadirachtin and pyrethrum that prevents aphids from feeding on the root, and oil helps to
stop aphids infestation from growing.
Do Soil Mites Live Underground or Above the Ground?
Soil mites like to live underneath the soil where the environment is moist and rich in nutrients. This environment is perfect for their living condition.
Soil mites can also dwell above ground to feed on dead leaves and other decaying organic matter. Soil mites live both above the ground and below it as long as it meets their needs.
Conclusion: Difference Between Soil Mites And Root Aphids
There are various species of soil mites, all of which have different characteristics. The most common type of oil mite, oribatid, can be very similar to root aphids that it becomes difficult to tell them apart.
But the significant difference between these two insects is that soil mites are smaller than root aphids and can hardly be seen with bare eyes.
The only evidence that soil mites are present in your potted plants is when they walk on the surface of the soil. However, root aphids leave behind honeydew to indicate their presence.
We have covered effective ways to deal with soil mites and root aphids, although it is recommended that you don’t harm soil mites as they are beneficial to the soil.
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We trust this article helped you understand the Difference Between Soil Mites And Root Aphids. You may also want to check out if Acorns Are Harmful To Grass (Best Way To Pick Up Acorns)
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