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Thread: Little white worms/larvae in bonsai soil!!

  1. #1
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    Little white worms/larvae in bonsai soil!!

    I was just checking one of my junipers soil and noticed that some of the moss on the soil is starting to go yellow, so I touched the moss to see how dry it is, and felt it was a little loose, not really connected to the soil underneath, so I lifted up some of the moss and found all this little white worms. I checked deeper in the soil and found some more, but the bulk of them were under the moss. The soil is pretty moist.

    I just read that it could be a sign of over-watering. Is there anything else I can do to make sure my tree doesn't become worm lunch??

    Last edited by Kiani; February 22nd, 2012 at 08:03 PM.

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    The very same issue happened to me last summer on a couple of Juni's too, one thing I noticed was that it happened right after I applied some "Green King" fertilizer after a couple of weeks from applying some blood and bone meals, I'm not saying that was the root cause of the worms/larva but at that time, the blood and bone meal, brought a lot of flies to the bench area of the trees, that was my main reason to switch to Green King. I would like to think that all those flies dropped some eggs in top of the soil and a few weeks later the worms/larva were present. Regardless, I took care of the issue and made a few emergency repottings to get ride of the infestation and so far, it haven't happen again and I'm still using Green King.

    Funny thing, I use sieved lava rock as top dressing for some of my trees, and this little fellas were strong enough to move the small rocks on top while moving underneath them.
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    ^ I always thought the fertilizer I have smelt funny.

    What would be the best course of action from here on? Let the soil dry out? Re-pot?

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    If this guys are present on the Junipers that you showed us a few weeks ago, I would not repot them again, leave the roots alone. I would get my bonsai tweezers and start pulling this guys out of the soil one by one, it might sound like a very tedious work unless someone else can suggest any chemical to kill them all at once.
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    Kiani (February 23rd, 2012)

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    Worms won't eat your tree. They eat dirt. Their presence means there is considerable organic material in the soil that is probably making it retain too much water. This isn't a crisis, though.

    The moss on the soil's surface makes the issue worse, since it offers not only fine, organic soil that worms enjoy, but also shelter--you will find that birds love to pick through and disturb moss--in your bonsai pot, as well as in the landscape.

    You can cut down on this issue by changing the soil to more porous and granular soil-haydite, lava and the like.

    Elevating the container off the ground will also help, as worms find their way into the pot from the ground.

    The "worms" may also be crane fly larva. Crane flies are ugly, long legged flying things that only look bad. They also like moist soils with alot of organic content that will support their young.

    The "worms" you really have to worry about are grubs, which are the larval stages of many kinds of beetles and other insects. Grubs WILL eat roots and can seriously damage bonsai. THey're typically larger, fattier looking, stubbier and pale white, grey or brown.

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    Kiani (February 23rd, 2012)

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    Rockm, I had grubs last year in a Ch Elm with basically dirt as substrate (before I learned about using inorganic substrates), as well as my Ficus Benj. that was indoors planted in potting soil. Lost both plants. Can you tell me the causes, and treatment of the little buggers?

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    To kill off grubs that attack roots you have 2 options (by the way these are worms in your pic not grubs - grubs are plump, C shaped, usually light / white in colour and about 0.5 inch long:

    1. Nematodes (organic but only effective at certain temperatures)
    2. Chemical solutions .... Bayer Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2 and Scotts Miracle-Gro BugClear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer can be used for any container-grown plants (apart from edible ones); they are watered onto the compost.

    The life cycle of these nasties mean that they do most of their damage in late autumn (burrow deeper during the colder months) then again in early spring before hatching when the weather gets warmer. This means that by spring the fine feeder roots are non existent and the plant is in severe danger of dying.

    A third option is to keep bonsai on benches / raised as rockm has mentioned (the beetles that lay these eggs cannot fly) but to provide physical barriers such as water (pots stood on saucers above a water line) or sticky tape like barriers on bench legs / monkey poles are effective. Beetles can drop down onto plants so beware of overhanging structures or plants!

    HTH

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    So if these are just worms that feed on the soil itself, will they die if I let the soil dry out almost completely between watering?

    I think i have been keeping the soil of the junipers too moist. I water them around 2-3 times a week when I feel the soil is getting dry but I think I need to let it dry out a little more?
    Last edited by Kiani; February 23rd, 2012 at 03:05 PM.

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    I'd probably let the soil dry down a bit, remove the moss completely. You're not going to get rid worms until you purge the soil and repot.

    I really won't worry about them.

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    Kiani (February 23rd, 2012)

  13. #10
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    OK thanks. It was just a shocker to turn over the moss and see 10-15 of these aliens crawling around.

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