The Q&A Archives: Controlling White Bugs on Indoor Plants

Question: I have several pots indoors, mostly vegetables. Recently I saw white bugs that jump roaming around the soil. What are they and how can I get rid of them? I need something that is 100% effective. Some of the leaves are dried in the tips Joe Bronx, NY

Answer: It sounds like the little jumping insects you saw are springtails, which feast on organic matter in soil. I believe they eat only decaying material, though. It makes me think the leaves are affected by something else, perhaps the larvae of fungus gnats. Have you seen any tiny, black, long-legged gnats around your plants? The maggots of these flies eat small plant rootlets and can seriously affect potted plants if the population is high, and this causes the plant to suffer overall. If you see a lot of the gnats, try Knock-Out Gnats by Gardens Alive (812-537-8650 or write 5100 Schenley Pl., Lawrenceburg, IN 47025). It's extremely effective. I know of nothing that can claim to be 100% effective, except soil sterilization.

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