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white jumpy things in indoor plant pot

LavandeLavande Posts: 171

My poor daughter has been emailing this evening with photos and even a video of long thin  white beasties in her plant pots in her bedroom and living room.  I don't know if you can see them in the photo attached they are about an inch diagonal from the stem in  the first picture and the second picture shows a mess round the pot on the windowsill which has really upset her.  She said it's like crumbs?  Has anyone seen this before?

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  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544

    I have seen similar things. In my case they turned out to be the maggots of a thing called fungus gnats. The flying adults are those irritating tiny little black midgie things that hang about house plants. The larvae eat the compost and come into the house in the compost. The way that I finally got rid of them, and much against my no-insecticide policy, was to drench the compost with a systemic bug killer. If they are the same as yours you can relax in knowing that they do no damage to the plant, they just eat the compost.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • LavandeLavande Posts: 171

    Pansyface, I think she will be very relieved to hear that is what they are.  She has had those little black flies every summer, in fact so have I - although it's the first time she has noticed anything in the actual soil.  In your experience does that also explain the mess round the pots?  I don't think she will have a problem using the bug killer.  Amazing that the maggots are bigger than the actual flies - but eurgh.  I hope this doesn't put her off.  I'm delighted that she is acquiring green fingers.

    Thanks very much for your help.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,337

    The compost looks too damp, too, which encourages them.  Covering the top of the compost with a layer of fine grit helps as the flies cannot then lay their eggs and it also means a bit less watering is necessary.  Not sure about the 'dust' which looks like the dried carcases of another bug, possibly aphids - the insecticide will kill them, too. 

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • LavandeLavande Posts: 171

    Thanks Bob - I think the wet soil might be my fault - she had googled the problem and thought they might be spring-tails and when I looked them up it said to soak the pots and they would come to the surface.  Then I realised she was looking at US sites and thought I would try my trusty gardeners world forum. When I visit her I have to stop myself from telling her that her plants could do with a waterimagein general they are much drier.  Could the eggs for both blackfly and aphids have been in her compost bag?  She recently potted up some bulbs.  Anyway thank you because if it is blackfly and aphids then they are unwelcome but not too sinister.

  • FleurisaFleurisa Posts: 779

    The larvae of fungus gnats should be very tiny and hard to spot, you only need one fly to get in the house and as soon as it finds wet compost to lay its eggs into they multiply rapidly. Sticky fly paper will catch the flies. Let the compost dry out, place the pot onto some newspaper to soak up excess water. Then only water pots from below, gravel on top of the pot will help cover the soil. The larvae eat the roots of plants, causing most damage to tiny seedlings.

  • LavandeLavande Posts: 171

    Thank you Fleurisa, my daughter decided to repot all her bulbs - she said she washed all the roots and changed all the soil and hopes she didn't damage them.  The problem seems to be in the bulb pots which have no holes at the bottom.  No doubt lack of  drainage has caused the dampness then.  They were originally pre-potted from M&S which she has replanted this year.  She will get some sticky fly paper too for the flies but I think she will have to find another use for the lovely little pots when these bulbs have finished because they are obviously impractical.

    Thank you so much everyone for your advice.

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