Soil Mite Info: What Are Soil Mites And Why Are They In My Compost?

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By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Could your potted plants be lurking with potting soil mites? Perhaps you have spotted a few soil mites in compost heaps. If you’ve ever come across these frightening looking creatures, you may be wondering what they are and if they’re a threat to the livelihood of your garden plants or soil. Keep reading to find out more about soil mite info and their effects in the garden.

What are Soil Mites?

So what are soil mites and are they dangerous? Potting soil mites make their home, with many family members, in soil. These tiny creatures are about the size of a pinpoint and are very easy to miss. They may appear as little white dots walking along the surface of the soil or along a plant container. There are many species of soil mites and all are close relatives to ticks and spiders. Soil mites are not thought to cause any damage to plants and, in fact, are oftentimes deemed to be beneficial to the decomposition process.

The Oribatid Mite


The Oribatid mite is a type of soil mite that is commonly found in wooded areas where it often assists in the breakdown of organic matter. These mites occasionally make their way to patios, decks, container plants or even inside homes. They are generally drawn to decaying organic matter such as leaves, moss and mold.

The easiest way to deal with pesky soil mites, should they be a bother to you, is to get rid of the decaying matter. Keep outdoor living spaces and roofs clear of decomposing matter as well.

Soil Mites in Compost

Because of its decomposition properties, soil mites love compost and will find their way into a pile any chance they can. Known as worm bin mites, these little critters find compost bins to be the perfect banquet.

You may find several different species of bin mites in compost, including predatory mites that are flat and light brown. These fast moving soil mites are found in all sorts of compost bins including both indoor bins and outdoor piles of animal manure.

Slower moving soil mites in compost are also found. You may recognize some of these as shiny round mites which move extremely slow and look like tiny eggs. These mites generally feed on fruits and vegetables, including rotting rinds. If you are concerned that these mites are competing with your compost worms, you can place a piece of watermelon rind in your compost pile and remove it in a few days, hopefully with a large number of mites.

Additional Soil Mite Info

Due to the fact that much of the soil mite info available may seem hard to find, it is important to know that they are relatively harmless to humans and plants. So, don’t panic if you see potting soil mites or mites in your compost bin.

If you are set on getting rid of them in your planting containers, you can simply remove your plant from the pot, soak it to remove soil and repot with new, sterilized soil. A small amount of insecticide can be added to the soil to keep your plant mite free as well.

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