How to kill tiny white jumping insects in the soil?

Hi,
I noticed today that when I water Mr. Planty, tiny white jumping mite start to crawl up to the surface of the soil (presumably to escap drowning). They are really minute and just hop all over the place. No only am I worried that they are harming Mr. Planty, but it's rathe gross to have those small mite-like things jumping around my apartment
I'd appreciate it if anyone could help me out with how to get rid o these little insects.
Thanks
-- starrburst
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Probably springtails. No worry. They will stay near Mr. Planty's pot, as that's their food source.
On Sun, 31 Oct 2004 10:46:37 +0000, starrburst

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Springtails eat pot? That's far out, dude!!!! Yawh!!!
wrote:

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On Sun, 31 Oct 2004 10:46:37 +0000, starrburst wrote:

Springtails or soil mites. They do not harm plants. They feed on organic matter in the soil. Letting the soil dry as much as possible is the best solution.
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Not only are springtails harmless to the garden, but their presence indicates good soil health. Their diet consists of decaying matter, fungus, & bacteria, & their activity helps keep nitrogen in the soil. A radical explosion in their population might be an indicator that something in the organic balance is out of wack, though it probably means only that there are excesses of mushroom spoors which can increase springtail populations since springtails go after the mushroom spoors like kids after halloween candy, & a black springtail called "snowflea" even hops around after snowfall gathering up fungal spoors from the surface of the snow. If springtails vanish that means the microflora is probably also missing or that soil is never sufficiently moist to support either springtails or microflora. In which case the plants will be at great risk too.
Attempting to get rid of them by drying out the garden would be equally harmful to microflora, only the springtails would weather the drought better by moving to moist areas & estivating, or in unusual cases "heading for cool shelter" which will mean the house, where they will accumulate in bathrooms & kitchens, & not leave until it's moist outdoors again. A large indoor infestation without an outdoor drought can be a warning-sign of mold problems inside the structure or leaky plumbing somewhere undetected. Insecticides won't get rid of them if there are condensation or moisture problems in the house, but correcting leaks & moisture problems or installing a dehumidifier gets rid of them.
Some springtails are so small they will never be seen by the even moderately farsighted. Tinier-than-average varieties are encountered in potted indoor plants, but they restrict their activity to the soil & don't spread elsewhere in the house, & are not harming houseplants.
There is ONE North American exception to the general harmlessness of the genus. A rounded stumpy flea-like springtail (Bourletiella hortensis) eats the delicate roots of evergreen tree seedlings, so if you are growing evergreen seedlings & had a population explosion of this flealike pest, that could be bad news. Few are the gardeners with lots of tree seedlings, so the primary bad history for this critter is in tree farms & ornamental tree nurseries of the Pacific Northwest, where their feeding habits reduce emergence or cause deformities of western hemlock, sitka spruce, & other evergreens, & cause lesions in developing bark where harmful fungus can be established. They are most active in summer & would be dormant now. When present & active they are easily detected by laying a white piece of paper on the soil & then blowing on or fanning the soil around the edges of the paper; if they are present in sufficient numbers to be harmful to evergreen seedlings, several will jump onto the white surface of the paper. But if what one sees are ELONGATED springtails (& most of the numerous species are elongated) then these are invariably harmless.
A similarly primitive insect (far older than true insects) is the jumping bristletail. They're very nocturnal & feed primarily on the types of algae & lichens that grow on forest floors in leaf & needle litter. They can be very common in moist coastal forests where fallen leaves & debris are thick, which material jumping bristletails help turn into topsoil. They are rarely numerous in gardens. If there were many, you'd see them by turning over a piece of lumber or flat piece of bark. As with springtails, bristletails are harmless, & though they do eat living plant matter, it's only algae & lichens, not higher plants.
Although springtails are a sign of good healthy soil & ideal plant conditions, many vendors of various pesticides recommend getting rid of them. Because chemical vendors don't care to distinguish between what is helpful & what is harmful, they just want to sell more of their products.
Even if there were an imaginary reason to control them, the method would be to clean up the leaflitter from the garden. I'd never do this because springtail activity in leaflitter is a great source of garden nutrients that helps do away with the need to artificially fertilize. But if I had a phobia about springtails I'd sweep up all the leaves & that would automatically lower the springtail population.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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Ratgirl, if you can't provide sufficient depth and detail in your responses, why bother? :-) :-) :-)
wrote:

gross
these
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Phisherman Wrote:

-- starrburst
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Doug Kanter Wrote:

-- starrburst
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