Little white worms/larvae in bonsai soil!!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Kiani, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Kiani

    Kiani Mame

    Messages:
    194
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    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??

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
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  3. alonsou

    alonsou Mame

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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.
     
  4. Kiani

    Kiani Mame

    Messages:
    194
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    ^ 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?
     
  5. alonsou

    alonsou Mame

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    Norwalk, CA
    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.
     
  6. rockm

    rockm Masterpiece

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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.
     
  7. fore

    fore Omono

    Messages:
    1,676
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    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?
     
  8. Marie1uk

    Marie1uk Shohin

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    351
    Location:
    UK. Yorkshire
    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 :)
     
  9. Kiani

    Kiani Mame

    Messages:
    194
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    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: Feb 23, 2012
  10. rockm

    rockm Masterpiece

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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.
     
  11. Kiani

    Kiani Mame

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    194
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    OK thanks. It was just a shocker to turn over the moss and see 10-15 of these aliens crawling around.
     
  12. edprocoat

    edprocoat Masterpiece

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    Have you indentified these " worms" ? I ask because they look like maggots to me. Years ago I blended a blugill in a blender and mixed it with potting soil to use as a fertilized soil, something i thought of and wanted to try. Fortunately I did not use it that day , the next day I opened the bag to use the soil and it was full of maggots, which looked a lot like the worms in your picture. I also learned from my mother that a blender needs to be cleaned after use, not just rinsed...

    ed
     
  13. tanlu

    tanlu Shohin

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    New York Metropolitan Area
    I've had the same worms in my soil, and they are worms. In fact, if you look closely at the photo, that long dark line inside them is their stomach that is digesting soil. Maggots are very short stubby white things that later form brown shells and morph into flies. I've had both in my pines, which were in 100% inorganic aggregate, elevated about 4 feet off the ground, and had excellent exposure to full sun and wind. This is nature and all you can do is pick them out of the soil when you see them. It's not an emergency, and if anything, worms make soil fertile which provides your trees with nutrients. Using organic fert will also attract more bugs, FYI.

    T
     
  14. fore

    fore Omono

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    Location:
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    Thank You Marie. I def. had grubs. And not only my Ch. Elm, but also my ficus'. Pretty devastating. I've never heard of those pesticides. I have no idea how the eggs got in there as all my trees are off the ground, or near overhanging trees. I'll try to find something to use as a preventative this year.

     
  15. Kiani

    Kiani Mame

    Messages:
    194
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Hi ed, well I'm new to bonsai and gardening so the replies in this thread helped me identify them. Majority have said they are in fact worms.

    You're right because whenever I check the tree or if it is disturbed I notice 1-2 little flies fly off the tree. They are tiny but I'm assuming they are coming from the worms in the soil.

    I checked the soil using a chop stick, just turned over parts here and there, without disturbing the roots, and I only found very few more worms, maybe 3-4 in the whole pot. I'm sure they might be more but the bulk of them (around 20) were found under the moss, which I have now removed.

    Glad to hear these worms aren't a big threat to the tree, thanks everyone for setting my mind at ease.
     
  16. rockm

    rockm Masterpiece

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    Location:
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    The flies you're seeing are fungus gnats. The worms don't belong to them. Their larva are tiny. Fungus gnats are a sign the soil is too moist and there may not be enough air circulation...
     
  17. Kiani

    Kiani Mame

    Messages:
    194
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Thanks for that Rock. You're right, the soil (at least under the surfce, which seems dry) is quite moist and seems tight, because it's all dirt, I didn't know anything about creating a proper soil mixture.

    Will this be a problem in the long run? I just repotted around 3 weeks ago.
     
  18. Marie1uk

    Marie1uk Shohin

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    351
    Location:
    UK. Yorkshire
    I am sure there is a pesticide equivalent that you can get in the states to combat vine weevils ... google available us products or ebay my suggestions --- what price do u put on a tree you have nurtured for 20 years ... even if it isn't a masterpiece?
     
  19. Kiani

    Kiani Mame

    Messages:
    194
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Well Marie, you're right, but some members are saying these worms aren't a threat to the tree, and that it's just a matter of the soil being too moist, thus creating an environment that nurtures them. If they aren't an immediate threat to the tree, I think I would rather get rid of them naturally, but letting the soil dry a little more, removing all the moss, and hopefully it will get rid of them.

    If anyone thinks these worms could be a threat to the health of the tree, I would certainly look in to ordering a pesticide to remove them immediately.
     

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