Ask a Question forum: Opened a bag of organic soil.

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Apr 23, 2016 4:24 PM CST
I opened a bag of organic soil and all these bugs were crawling around. I had used other bags and hadn't noticed them. I also notice some sort of plant growing. I live in San Antonio Tx. Find attach the bug I saw. Thank you for your assistance.
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Apr 23, 2016 4:44 PM CST
Not sure my eyes are looking in the correct place but the white insects look like termites; they are sometimes found in bags of potting mix containing bark chips.
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Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Apr 23, 2016 5:48 PM CST
So, if you can get a clearer photo, I think they look like symphyla, which are tiny millipedes. Hard to tell though in the photo.

I can tell you my history with potting mix. I do not buy organic anymore because it's not sterilized and I've had problems with different types of bugs. One time I even found out there was unsterilized bat guano in the soil. Sterilized, ok- unsterilized, no.

If you are worried about the plants you've already potted, here is the way to check for bugs. Take a couple of potato slices, and lay them on top of the soil- kind of push them slightly into the dirt to make contact. Leave them at least 4 hours, or overnight is even better. Then remove the slices carefully, place on a paper towel, and look with a flashlight and magnifying glass. If there's bugs, there will almost always be one on the potato. They may be tiny. I found symphyla by using the potato- apparently they like it.

But I know how you feel- frustrating when you're trying to do things right. I would at least return the potting soil that you just opened.
Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Apr 23, 2016 5:52 PM CST
By the way, where are you using the soil? In potted plants in the house or outside? It would make a difference regarding bugs in the soil, because some are ok in certain places because predators take care of them at some point.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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Apr 23, 2016 5:53 PM CST
I'm thinking springtails. I guess we need something to show the relative size, because a termite would be big, and a springtail is tiny.

If they are springtails, they're harmless. They just lay eggs in organic stuff, and obviously there were some sort of eggs in some component of that soil. If you're using the soil for indoor plants, you'll probably want to get rid of them, but if for outdoors, just ignore them.

A drench with insecticidal soap will do the trick. Just put the soil in the pot, then before you plant, drench with the soap solution, let it sit for a little while then rinse the soap through with plain water and plant.

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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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Apr 23, 2016 6:05 PM CST
I was thinking symphylans like Alyssa, but I agree it would be useful to have something give an idea of the scale. Since the pic is not clear, here are some of symphylans so that Noreen can compare if she can't get a sharper one:

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