The Q&A Archives: white worms

Question: I just bought a 4cubic ft. bag of peat moss the other day, and added it to my vegetable garden bed. I then tried to water it in (BIG MISTAKE NOT TO WET IT FIRST!!!!) and I noticed these white worms about an inch long, very thin and firm, on the garden bed. They seem to flip out when sprayed with the hose, but stop moving when the water stops hitting them. They are not slow moving like earthworms are, but rather quick and almost

Answer: Based on your description I am not sure what you saw, but they might be fungus gnat larvae. These can certainly breed in peat moss or in bagged soil mixes. Outdoors, they should not be a problem for your plants. Indoors, they can cause some root damage in high populations and the fungus gnats are harmless but really pesky.

To dampen peat moss, you can mix it with warm water in a clean trash can or child's wading pool or wheelbarrow and stir often, let it sit a few hours and stir again, or you use a garden hose on slow drip speed and let it sit on top of the bale for a few days. It is difficult to rewet once dry. Since it is spring and there should be lots of rain it will probably be okay, but as a rule you should dampen it first. This reduces your chances of inhaling it accidentally and keeps it from blowing away outside.

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