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Expert Tips For Chemical Control of Soil Mites

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In addition to chemical control, several non-chemical methods can be used to control soil mites. Chemical options should always be a last resort.

Chemical control of soil mites typically involves the use of pesticides. However, it is essential to note that the use of pesticides should only be considered a last resort and used with caution.

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Chemical Options for Controlling Soil Mites

Several types of pesticides can be used to control soil mites, including acaricides, insecticides, and miticides. Acaricides are specifically designed to control mites, while insecticides and miticides may also be effective against mites.

Before using any pesticide, it is essential to identify the specific type of mite present and to carefully read and follow the label instructions for the selected pesticide. It is also necessary to consider the potential impacts of the pesticide on non-target organisms, such as beneficial insects and soil microorganisms.

A person wearing a full-body green chemical suit and mask is holding a spraying device used for applying chemicals.
Protective gear on Ready to spray some chemicals

In addition to chemical control, several non-chemical methods can be used to control soil mites, such as cultural controls (e.g., crop rotation, tillage, and soil moisture management), physical controls (e.g., using mulch or plastic barriers), and biological controls (e.g., introducing natural predators of mites).

Controlling Beneficial Soil Mites

Soil mites are essential to the soil ecosystem, as they help decompose organic matter and cycle nutrients. However, in certain situations, soil mites can become pests and cause damage to plants, especially in a greenhouse or indoor growing environment. Chemical control of soil mites may be necessary in such cases.

There are several chemical options for controlling soil mites, including:

  1. Acaricides: These are chemicals specifically designed to control mites. They are available in different forms, such as sprays, powders or granules. Examples of acaricides include abamectin, bifenthrin, and cyfluthrin.
  2. Insecticides: Some insecticides can also be effective against soil mites, and they disrupt the mites’ nervous system. Examples of insecticides include imidacloprid, permethrin, and pyrethrin.
  3. Fungicides: Certain fungicides can also help control soil mites by reducing their food sources. For example, dazomet is a fungicide that can also prevent soil mites.

It’s important to note that chemical control of soil mites should only be used as a last resort after other non-chemical methods have been tried and found ineffective. 

Additionally, these chemicals should be used carefully, following all label instructions and safety precautions, to prevent harm to humans, animals, and the environment.

Why Caution is Required in Controlling Soil Mites

A person in a white chemical suit and gas mask stands with their back to the camera, holding a spraying device that is pointed towards a large area in front of them.
Protecting against chemical hazards A worker in protective gear sprays a chemical agent to neutralize potential dangers in the area

Soil mites are often hailed as the primary shredders of organic matter, promoting soil creation and the transfer of nutrients and energy to higher trophic levels. 

Different mite-feeding classes contribute differently to these processes. Fungivores and herbivore grazers significantly aid the decomposition of organic materials.

Grazer soil mites (oribatid mites) can break down resistant cell wall material, making their nutrients more broadly available for further processing. Predaceous and other soil mites grou[ed either by size, function, or taxonomical classification, contribute to healthy soil development as builders, pest controllers, or soil engineers. 

The fungivore and herbofungivore grazers are typically responsible for the fragmentation of organic matter and producing nutritious excrement (like vermicompost). Soil mites increase aggregate soil stability through feeding activity.

Non-Pesticide Chemical Alternatives to Controlling Soil Mites

Hydrogen Peroxide

A clear plastic bottle with a white label reading "Hydrogen Peroxide" in bold black letters. The bottle contains a clear liquid with a slightly blue tint.
First aid essential Hydrogen Peroxide 💙 Keep it handy for minor cuts and scrapes

Hydrogen peroxide is a gardener’s best friend, helping fight root rot, plant pathogens, fungus gnats, and mites (named for their diet, not their species).

Hydrogen peroxide is a very effective therapy for all types of soil-borne pests. Without harming your plants, it will instantly destroy many adult bugs, nymphs, and eggs. 

Hydrogen peroxide is available in a range of concentration strengths. You need a 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide; if you have a stronger concentration, dilute it to 3%.

Before you use it to exterminate your soil mite infestation, dilute the 3% concentration even further, mixing one part of 3% hydrogen peroxide with four parts of water. You’re left with a 0.6 percent concentration.

The recommended solution will immediately kill soil mites upon contact, and a more concentrated solution will eliminate all soil biota and may damage your plant roots.

A three percent concentration is commonly used to treat cuts and abrasions, killing all possible pathogens (and good bacteria) and purportedly allowing the wound to heal uncompromised. 

Horticultural Oil

A person wearing blue gloves uses a spray bottle to apply liquid to plants, with droplets visible in the air.
Bringing life to nature one spray at a time 💦🌿 GardeningGoals

Horticultural oil is a type of pesticide that is derived from petroleum and is used to control insect pests and certain plant diseases. It is a highly refined oil specially formulated for use on plants, and it works by suffocating insects and mites by coating them with a thin layer of oil, disrupting their ability to breathe.

Horticultural oil is commonly used in organic and low-toxicity pest management programs because it is a relatively safe and effective alternative to synthetic pesticides. It is also relatively easy to use and has a low environmental impact.

Some of the benefits of horticultural oil as a pesticide include the following:

  • Versatility: Horticultural oil can be used on various plants and crops, including fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and trees.
  • Low toxicity: Horticultural oil has low toxicity to humans and other mammals, and it breaks down quickly in the environment.
  • Residual effect: Horticultural oil can leave a residue on plants, providing ongoing protection against pests.
  • Resistance management: Because horticultural oil works by suffocating pests, it does not pose the same risks of pest resistance as traditional pesticides.
  • Mode of action: Horticultural oil works physically rather than chemically, making it an effective tool for managing pests in an integrated pest management program.

However, it is essential to note that horticultural oil has limitations and potential drawbacks. It can cause phytotoxicity or leaf burn if misused or at the wrong time, and it may not be effective against all pests or diseases. 

In addition, horticultural oil should not be used during high heat or humidity, as it can cause plant damage. 

Overall, horticultural oil can effectively manage pests safely and environmentally friendly, but it should be used carefully and following label instructions.

Insecticidal Soap

A close-up image of a green nozzle attached to a tube, spraying a liquid onto a surface. The liquid appears to be frothy and has a consistent flow.
Effortlessly clean with our powerful foaming spray nozzle

Insecticidal soap is a pesticide that controls a wide range of insect pests, including soil mites. It disrupts insects’ cell membranes, causing them to dehydrate and die. 

Insecticidal soap is typically made from potassium salts of fatty acids and is considered a low-toxicity pesticide safe for humans, pets, and beneficial insects.

To use insecticidal soap to control soil mites, it is essential first to identify the type of mite present, as not all species of mites are susceptible to this treatment. Once the mite has been identified, the insecticidal soap should be mixed with water according to the label instructions and applied to the soil surface and foliage of the affected plants.

When applying insecticidal soap, it is essential to follow the label instructions carefully, as overuse or improper application can cause damage to plants. 

It is also important to note that insecticidal soap is only effective against the pests that come into direct contact with it, so it may need to be applied multiple times over several weeks to ensure complete control.

In addition to using insecticidal soap, other cultural and preventative practices can be used to control soil mites. These include avoiding overwatering or allowing the soil to become too dry, using clean soil and containers when planting, and maintaining proper sanitation practices in and around the garden.

Diatomaceous Earth

A clear glass jar containing a white powdery substance, identified as diatomaceous earth, sits on a wooden surface next to a small sifter. The texture of the powder appears light and porous. The jar is partially filled with the substance, allowing visibility of its contents.
Natural pest control just got easier with diatomaceous earth a safe and effective solution

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a powdery material created from the fossilized, crushed remains of ancient creatures known as diatoms. While it is often recommended as an environment-friendly pesticide, it only works if kept dry.

In contrast to how smooth the powder feels to human hands, microscopic beetles and insects that crawl across it experience the powder as millions of tiny glass shards that penetrate their exoskeletons and cause them to bleed out. 

DE can be applied topically or blended into the soil without harming the plant, but it effectively eliminates any organism with an exoskeleton, such as soil mites.

Questionable Soil Mite Control Recommendations

Gardeners try various tricks to control garden pests, from using urine to planting onions as companion plants. While some of these tricks work, they can have unexpected side effects.

Sticking to your local Extension office’s advice is better than drenching your soil with cinnamon or garlic solutions.

FAQs on Expert Tips For Chemical Control of Soil Mites

In Summary

It is natural to be afraid or suspicious of creatures we don’t know, so I can understand why you may want to destroy “bugs,” especially if they’re in your home. Some mites present a risk to humans, quite a few of them, but none of these are soil mites.

Soil mites are essential to soil health, and killing them can result in nematode population explosions and several other side effects. If you find mites on your foliage, feel to eliminate them, but let soil mites be. Check out my How to Prevent Soil Mites post for tips on preventing soil mites.

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