White insects in soil…what are they?

There is never a dull moment on Piglet’s Plot.  I’ve discovered yet another bug has taken up residence in my gourmet garden so I need some help from my gardening buddies please!

While emptying the soil from a pot I’d recently grown potatoes in I discovered tiny white insects running around in the soil. I’ve tried to identify them and think they may be soil termites or springtails. They are about 2/10th of an inch long and crawl very fast!

White insects with legs living in soil
White insects with legs living in soil

I cropped the photo and enlarged the image of the bug in question but the result is rather fuzzy!

White insects with legs living in soil
White insects with legs living in soil

On closer inspection today, I noticed they have a brownish head…tried to take more pictures, but no luck!

Has anyone, growing potatoes or indeed anything else in pots discovered these insects? I want to reuse the soil, but how do I get rid of them?

Update: I don’t know if it will work but I’ve submersed some of the soil containing the bugs in water. At the moment they are  threading water, so not sure if they can swim or not!

Further Update:
They’ve drowned 😦


36 thoughts on “White insects in soil…what are they?

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  1. I think they look like a termites. I figure they were hurting your plant. There’s never a dull moment in gardening. I hope you can get rid of them easily.


    1. Hi OGP, I’ve drowned all the bugs now! The nearest garden centre offering such a service is about 60km away and certainly no universities 😦 We live in the middle of nowhere 🙂
      I don’t think they were beneficial as the plant suddenly began to die off. I think they were munching away at its roots!


  2. I’ve never seen anything like what you describe but have my own supply of pests determined to eat whatever I plant before we can. I would definitely not re- use the soil though.


    1. Hi Optie, I have drowned all the little critters! so I’m a going filter them out and use the same soil but growing another crop. If there is anything still surviving it will only affect one plant, which will be a cucumber plant!


  3. Were they burrowing into your potatoes? Did the spud plants seem to grow well or did they wilt and die early – that might indicate they were chomping on the roots.
    Don’t always assume that you can, or should eradicate insect life in the soil! If your plants are thriving then what’s the problem! Your soil should be teeming with life, plant, microbial, insect and other.
    I’ll even put up with a certain amount of insect damage rather than use any sort of toxic product, organic or otherwise. The best ecosystems contain balanced populations and eradicating certain critters just messes that up!


  4. SORRY: whatever these are [and I have had similar but of a slightly bigger size] the very first thing you do IS get rid of the soil!! Yes it costs, yes it is a nuisance: but you will be reliving this scenario over and over otherwise!! Methinks they are a grub rather than what you would call an insect!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not sure what they are, but just remember this as a rule, if they move FAST they are probably eating some other kind of bug, if they are moving SLOW they are probably eating your plants. So they are in some kind of pupa stage…good luck!!! Where is Janis??? She might know 🙂


    1. Hi RNP, that’s a good description re. bugs. Ants move fast and they eat bugs and even chew on me from time to time 🙂 Just seen Janice«s comment below, I think they did eat the roots because the potatoes suddenly started to die off and it was not a good crop 😦


  6. Keep a couple around until they grow up–might be easier to identify. I think they look like springtails–and they like decaying plants, moisture, and compost. Mostly harmless to plants.


    1. Hi, I initially thought they were maggots but they have legs and are similar to skinny ants. I think I’m going to see if I can drown them! I desperately need the soil as Mr Piglet has banned me from buying further compost 😦


      1. Oh.. I understand. These bans are putting brakes in my plans too. I compost my kitchen waste , a lot of it, and add to the cocopeat, and a little rice husk. I need to smuggle in vermi now. 🙂


    1. Hi Clara, they are def not woodlice the closet I got from google was soil termites or springtails. I just wish I could take a decent closeup shot. It’s raining at the moment but think I will get Mr Piglet to try later!


  7. Oh no! not more univited creatures. It is difficult to tell what it is as the picture is not clear. Could it be a beetle lava? Are there many? You may need to pick them all out if you want to re-use the compost.

    Liked by 1 person

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