Ask a Question forum: Help identify insects

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NJ
Dragonfli
May 6, 2018 1:41 PM CST
I've had a pretty bad fungus gnat infestation in ALL of my indoor plants. I've been unsuccessfully battling them for almost a year (neem oil, neem cake, Castile soap, hydrogen peroxide, gnat nix, withholding water, etc) These tiny grain of sand insects have overrun my soil. Are they fungus gnats or do I have a second type of infestation?


Thumb of 2018-05-06/Dragonfli/8260c7

[Last edited by Dragonfli - May 6, 2018 1:49 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
May 6, 2018 1:46 PM CST
Welcome!

Tiny grain of sand size insects don't sound like fungus gnats. Can you post a picture? Fungus gnat adults are tiny flies that flit around the plants and sometimes land on the soil surface to lay their eggs. The larvae that hatch from the eggs are whitish "worms" with shiny black heads that go into the potting mix.
NJ
Dragonfli
May 6, 2018 1:53 PM CST
They're not on the leaves. That's just the gnat nix top dressing. I've showered them off dozens of times. Every day they come back on the pots and throughout the soil.

I added a picture of a snake plant in my original post.

Thank you so much for helping me with this!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
May 6, 2018 2:39 PM CST
Definitely not fungus gnats. Do they move, fly (especially the elongated ones) or jump?
NJ
Dragonfli
May 6, 2018 3:43 PM CST
They crawl. It looks like animated sand.

I definitely have little adult flies in the soil. They come flying out when I water or move the pots. They're not attracted to vinegar. I've served them many gourmet varieties :)

It's hard to know what's going on in the soil lately since I spread the gnat nix. But I've got yellowing leaves on an infected peace lily and some money plants. So I suspect whatever they are they're munching the roots. I keep removing these from the pot with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. But it's not putting a dent in the problem.

Thanks again for thinking this over.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
May 6, 2018 3:55 PM CST
It's hard to tell what they are without a close-up. One thing you could do is capture some in a plastic baggie and take them to your local Extension office for ID. Perhaps the conditions that suit the bugs are also contributing to the yellowing, or the yellowing could also be from all the different remedies. If you can get them ID'd you should be able to target them more effectively. If you have a camera that can get any kind of a close-up to post here, that would help. Even taking a picture through a magnifying glass can work
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
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Zencat
May 6, 2018 4:24 PM CST
Whiteflies? Or are they too small for that?
NJ
Dragonfli
May 6, 2018 4:34 PM CST

Thumb of 2018-05-06/Dragonfli/284953

Good idea! Here they are super magnified as best I can do.

There're not on any leaves and there are no webs (yet). They've been around like this on the plants for weeks.

Any guesses?
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
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Zencat
May 6, 2018 4:43 PM CST
What do the flying ones look like? What color, size...This is weird.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
I have no use for internet bullies!
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greene
May 6, 2018 4:48 PM CST
Soil mites? Where did you get your potting soil from?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
May 6, 2018 4:51 PM CST
Yikes, they appear to be mites of some kind, but not spider mites. @GregC I think we need your help here.

Maybe something like Tyrophagus mites, here's a pic of oodles of them:
https://bugguide.net/node/view...
[Last edited by sooby - May 6, 2018 4:59 PM (+)]
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NJ
Dragonfli
May 6, 2018 5:16 PM CST

Thumb of 2018-05-06/Dragonfli/7e537a

Thank you everyone for taking the time to help.

This is a magnified adult which died on the windowsill.

The soil was a package of dr. Earth organic soil. I bought it from a landscape supplier who kept the packages outdoors.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
May 6, 2018 5:35 PM CST
That adult is something else altogether, not related to the mites. It could be a fungus gnat.
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
Image
Zencat
May 6, 2018 5:39 PM CST
I agree with sooby.
NJ
Dragonfli
May 6, 2018 5:49 PM CST
Thanks to everybody helping to narrow this down. I've been googling this for months but now with the magnified pictures I think I might be dealing with root aphids. (?) Does anybody have any experience with root aphids?
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
I have no use for internet bullies!
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Plant Identifier Region: Georgia Native Plants and Wildflowers Composter Garden Sages Bookworm
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greene
May 6, 2018 5:52 PM CST
Just throwing this out there.
There is a type of mite that feeds on fungus gnat larva.
Stratiolaelaps scimitus
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: tfc
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
May 6, 2018 6:11 PM CST
@greene - you might be onto something.
https://www.google.com/search?...

Finally found a decent picture root aphids.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/...
My only problem with id'ing your bugs as root aphids is that they're all over the outside of your container. Are they also on the roots? Then that would make more sense.
[Last edited by tx_flower_child - May 6, 2018 6:33 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
May 6, 2018 6:26 PM CST
Dragonfli said:Thanks to everybody helping to narrow this down. I've been googling this for months but now with the magnified pictures I think I might be dealing with root aphids. (?) Does anybody have any experience with root aphids?


Yes, I've seen root aphids. These aren't root aphids, they are mites.

As to being predatory mites, there seem to be rather a lot to be feeding on fungus gnat larvae so I'd be surprised if that's what they are. They look different too:

https://www.google.ca/search?q...

[Last edited by sooby - May 6, 2018 6:27 PM (+)]
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NJ
Dragonfli
May 6, 2018 7:59 PM CST
I see - not root aphids. I read an article on root aphids where it sounds like they fit the bill but it looks like the author mistakenly used a fungus gnat photo. (Photo: my dead bug up top and fungus gnat internet photo below.)

So my mysterious crawlers are mites of some sort.


Thumb of 2018-05-07/Dragonfli/e0d1eb

Name: Mindi Hammerstone
Tracy, CA (Zone 9b)
Dog Lover Dragonflies
MindiHammerstone
May 6, 2018 8:08 PM CST
Did you try mite killer yet? Oh man I hope you get these creepy bugs ID'd. I feel for you through the internet lol!!!

😀

Mindi

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