The Q&A Archives: Small silver-white bugs in house plant soil

Question: I have a philodendron that has an infestation of tiny, silver-white bugs crawling throughout the soil. The plant has had this problem before, but a spray treatment ridded the plant of the bugs. I have tried a similar spray treatment once a week for the past two weeks, but the bugs are not going away. This spray treatment contains active ingredients: Azadirachtin, Capsaicin, and garlic. What else can I do for my plant? Is there a natural way that I can take care of this problem? I'm living in a rather inconvenient situation right now, so I'm afraid repotting or other larger solutions won't be possible. Thanks for your help.

Answer: What you're using is a neem, hot pepper and garlic compound which may be effective against chewing insects, but not necessarily soil-dwelling insects. I'm not sure what the pests are but the best solution is to unpot your philodendron, brush off as much soil as possible from the roots, thoroughly clean the container, then repot with fresh potting soil. Since that's not possible at this time, you might try covering the soil surface with an inorganic material (aquarium gravel, for instance) to both hide the unsighly critters and to keep them from spreading to other houseplants. When the situation changes, you can repot your philodendron.

Best wishes with your houseplants!

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