Saturday, February 09, 2013

Worms in house plant soil...



"I have worms in the soil of my house plant".  On further investigation, this is not a worm, but a millipede.  When just touching them, they curl into a tight spring like circle.


Here's a closer view. Not to worry, millipede's eat decaying plant matter.  As you can see, the darker areas within the millipede are in fact soil. They help to decompose vegetation. So they are a good thing. However, when numerous are found, they may eat fine roots of the potted plant. So removal is necessary if you want to optimize plant health.

Easy to detect, as they curl immediately when touched.

House plant soil is primarily peat based and a great place for millipedes to hide and nest. There were over 15 found in the above pot - one house plant pot. This potted house plant was brought outdoors during the summer months and I believe the millipede laid an egg stash and once brought into the house, they hatched. Sometimes you find them in your house plant pots because they look to find food or a nesting area when they've made it into your home.  They have a great purpose: to accelerate the breakdown of organic plant matter, acting as "macro-decomposers."  If you find them in your house plants, remove them to your garden or compost bin. They sure are helpful creatures!

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for this info. I had no idea what millepedes do! And 'm relieved to know they're easy to remove and not going to kill my plant. On another note, I assume they're the same as centipedes (more legs?). When I lived in the rainforest in Suriname I had one in my cabin that was 6 inches long! Scary!

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  2. Millipedes and centipedes are different. Centipedes have a nasty bite and venom - you definitely want to avoid them! They are fast moving, somewhat flat, and hard to kill. I don't know of any benefit they provide to human life here on earth!

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    1. Yes, I've heard folks south of the border telling me about such bites. Although, I've not known anyone getting bit by centipedes in Ontario. I will say though, centipedes help eliminate unwanted insects in the garden/home and help aerate soil. They have their purpose. Just be wise around them. Having gardened now for over 15 years, I've never been bit and see thousands a year...doing their thing.

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  3. Does anyone know how to rid the houseplant of these things? Seem to be multiplying overnight. Indoor Christmas cactus (June thru early Oct. I put outside on the deck) this is the first time i have experienced these guys

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    1. You can expect any outdoor insect will invade any plant brought outdoors for the summer. That's the risk you take.

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    2. hi Heidi - I have a table full of indoor plants, which have never been outside. I am trying to control my little fruit fly/gnat problem trying different spray products. I sprayed "Garden Safe" houseplant insect killer on them a few days ago. Well this morning on my table were 2 of those little brown worms, which i assumed came out the the dirt because of the spray. my question is how would they get in there in the first place if the plants have never been outside? thank you!

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    3. You have to remember, these are not exclusive to outdoor. Millipedes are not fussy. They just want a damp, moist area to live and food to eat. You may have brought them in from the original growers or from the soil you used to pot up the plants. Eggs can be transferred unknowingly.

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  4. thank you Heidi. Do you have a product to recommend to get rid of those pesky black (fruit?) flies/gnats. They are everywhere! I have tried a couple of spray products to no avail and I have apple cider cups all over my house. thanks

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    1. Make sure your plant is well watered a few days before. Then mix one part 3% hydrogen peroxide with four parts water. It must be a low 3% HP, or it will burn the roots. Allow the top layer of your soil to dry, and then water your plants with this solution as you normally would. The soil will fizz for a few minutes after application; this is normal. The fungus gnat larvae will die on contact with the hydrogen peroxide. The adults may hover around, but at least you can reapply the solution to rid the next generation. Try allowing your plants to dry out - as fungus gnats require moist conditions to multiply.

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  5. Thank you Heidi for the info. On millipedes, I just moved to a new home and suddenly I saw these worms all over my tile floors, do you think they can also be underneath the wood of my couches?

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    1. Millipedes require moisture and a food source. Decaying matter is what they need. I don't think you have anything like that under your couch - however, if you have plant material dotted throughout the house, millipedes can look for hideaway spots, away from dry, bright conditions. They will hide under anything that gives them shelter.

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  6. For gnats I had to remove all the dirt and replace it with fresh dirt. That’s the only way I got rid of them

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