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Insect and Spider Identification: Soil Mite Identification, 1 by rubygrows

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Subject: Soil Mite Identification

Forum: Insect and Spider Identification

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rubygrows wrote:
Hi there! Can someone help me identify the soil mite below? Sorry about the quality of the photos. I did the best I could with the macro lens I have on hand. They have been crawling up the sides of my fiddle leaf fig plant container. I can see almost 100 of them. I do not see any on the soil or on the trunk/ stem / leaves.

I am aware that there are tens of thousands of species of soil mites, but I\'m trying to determine whether they are herbivores (feeding on my fiddle leaf fig) or omnivores (predatory mites like hypoaspis miles) so that I can come up with a plan of attack. My guess is that they are herbivores. A month ago I noticed my fiddle leaf fig\'s lower leaves were drooping , turning yellow and falling off at a rapid pace. I eliminated sunlight and over/under watering issues. These insects were the only ones I could see anywhere on the plant (actually only crawling up & down the container sides). So, I repotted the plant by discarding soil, drenching the plant roots in neem oil, soaking the planter/pot in chlorine solution and potting with fresh soil, and I applied some S.F. beneficial nematodes. The fiddle leaf immediately improved - no more drooping / yellowing and dropping leaves. However, 4 weeks later and the bugs are back. I\'m thinking either 1- the soil i used to repot was contaminated, or 2- I didn\'t soak the rest of the fiddle leaf in neem oil or wash off the trunk/stem/leaves, I only soaked the ball of roots, so it\'s possible a few bugs were hiding somewhere on the plant. I think the application of SF beneficial nematodes helped (I should have reapplied but I didn\'t). I\'d conclude these bugs are herbivores since my plant improved greatly upon reducing the population of these bugs. If they are omnivores, they wouldn\'t have fed on the plant (and they would have eaten the nematodes, probably, and I\'d rather avoid spending money on the nematodes since they aren\'t inexpensive).

I\'ve heard/read soil mites are generally beneficial because they break down decaying plant matter. But I think certain mites feed directly on the live plant, such as bulb mites. They actually look like bulb mites, actually, except that fiddle leaf figs aren\'t a bulb plant...

Any help would be appreciated!