If the potting soil in the pot suddenly moves and small, white animals appear, then this is a pest infestation that should be fought as soon as possible. Because once the animals spread, they can also get into other pots and plants. Therefore, immediate action is important in such a case. There are home remedies that can help control if insecticides are to be avoided.

detect pests

If it moves in the potting soil, then it can only be a matter of pests that need to be fought as quickly as possible before they cause more damage to the plant by nibbling on the roots. Encroachment on other nearby plants should also be avoided at all costs. But which pests are actually in the ground?

  • Larvae of fungus gnats
  • feed on fine, fresh roots
  • A female lays about 300 eggs in the ground
  • Springschwänze
  • have bounce reminiscent of fleas
  • live in soil and show up during watering
  • white larvae of the lily beetle
  • up to 350 eggs from one female
  • root mites
  • cause great damage to plants
Tip: The pests are often brought in with inferior potting soil. It is therefore better to always use high-quality potting soil from well-stocked gardening shops. If you buy cheap soil, you should put it in the oven at at least 100° Celsius for about half an hour before using it to kill pests.

baking powder

Baking soda is a very simple and inexpensive way to combat the white noxious larvae in potting soil. For this purpose, a sachet of baking powder is simply sprinkled on the surface of the earth and then poured lightly. The powder gets into the ground and is ingested by the larvae, which quickly die from it. Depending on the severity of the pest infestation, the treatment may need to be repeated more often until all the larvae have been removed.

nettle brew

Nettle broth is suitable for many things and can also fight small white animals in the potting soil. For this purpose, about one kilogram of stinging nettles is boiled in 10 liters of water. The brew is then left covered for a few days until bubbles form on the surface. Then proceed as follows:

  • strain through a sieve
  • Mix the collected brew with the irrigation water
  • water the plant once a day
Tip: Do not leave the brew in a closed vessel while it is steeping due to the resulting odors but rather spend it outside for this time.

plain water

Sometimes, for example with a springtail infestation, it is sufficient to place the plant with the pot and the soil in a bathtub or other large container and simply water it excessively. As a result, the pests come to the surface of the earth and swim on the water here. So they can simply be skimmed off and disposed of. It is important to give the plant the opportunity to dry well afterwards and prevent waterlogging.


Vinegar does not help against the larvae, but against the adult fungus gnats, which ultimately lay their eggs in the potting soil, just like with fruit flies. To fight the adult insects with vinegar, proceed as follows:

  • fill a bowl with water
  • Add vinegar or vinegar essence
  • add a splash of dish soap
  • place the bowl directly on the ground

The flies get into the water because of the vinegar smell. The surface tension of the water is released by the detergent, the flies sink and drown when they land.

The very effective nematodes, the roundworms, are not a conventional household remedy but also not a chemical insecticide. Even if it sounds paradoxical at first to fight pests with other worms, this is a very effective means, especially if all the means used so far have not really worked. The procedure for using nematodes is as follows:


  • are available in well-stocked gardening shops
  • are added to the irrigation water
  • the nematodes feed on the maggots
  • this will combat them
  • if the threadworms lack food, they die

If all pests in the soil have been combated with the nematodes, they too die and there are no longer any living beings in the potting soil.

neem oil

The poison found in neem oil is deadly to the larvae in the soil. The substance it contains has a negative effect on the hormonal balance of the pests. The neem oil is used as follows:

  • Mix oil with irrigation water
  • one part oil and one hundred parts water
  • regularly water the plant with the mixture
Tip: Neem oil is an oil that is obtained from the seeds of the neem tree and is available in well-stocked gardening shops, as it has already proven itself in many ways in combating all kinds of pests.


As soon as a plant has been found to be infested with white animals in the soil, it should be quarantined so that no other plants in the area can be infested. Only when the plant has been moved to a place where there are no other plants can you start fighting the white animals.

Soft soap and alcohol

A good way to deal with larvae in the soil as well as the adult pests on the plants is a mixture of soft soap and denatured alcohol. The solution is prepared as follows:

  • 30 grams of soap per liter of water
  • dissolve well
  • add two teaspoons of spirit
  • put everything in a spray bottle
  • spray both the plant and the soil
  • repeat several times a day
Tip: If small animals show up in the potting soil, they are usually larvae of a pest. Therefore, when combating the pests in the soil, it is also advisable to also combat the surface of the insects that have already emerged from the pupation. Otherwise, eggs can be laid again and again in the ground.


The heads of the matches contain potassium chlorate, which the larvae in the potting soil cannot tolerate. In order to be able to fight the larvae effectively, the matches are put upside down in the ground. As the potassium chlorate soaks into the soil, the larvae are killed over time.

Tip: Sensitive plants could also be damaged by the matchstick method, so this method should only be used with great caution.


If there is a very heavy infestation of small white animals in the soil, sometimes the only thing that helps is to repot the plant and completely refresh the soil. This requires thorough work and the following procedure should be followed:

  • Remove the plant from the pot
  • remove all soil from the root ball
  • Wash roots well under running water
  • Put old soil in a bag and seal tightly
  • dispose of in the residual waste
  • Clean pot well
  • with caustic soda and pure alcohol
  • then prepare pot with drainage again
  • fill in new, good quality potting soil
  • replant the plant

This way all pests should have been removed. So that new pests are not introduced with the new potting soil, it should be of good quality.

vermouth tea

Ready-made bags of wormwood tea are commercially available, which then only have to be brewed with hot water. Then the finished tea should cool down and be used for pouring. This remedy helps especially against root mites if it is poured onto the soil for several days.

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