Insect Eggs in Garden Soil (Identification & Prevention)


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Insect eggs can be found in many different places. In soil, various species of beetles, bugs, and mites lay eggs there. Soil is a perfect breeding ground for insects since it is dark and food is abundant. 

Insects like Cutworms, Moths, Ants, Borers, and Beetles will lay eggs within the first 1 – 3 inches of soil. These eggs can be small and pale white or yellow and can cause devastating effects on plants when hatched. Early identification with the use of Neem oil, beneficial nematodes, and insecticides effectively protects garden plants and crops.

In addition to species that bury their eggs individually in the soil, other kinds lay their eggs in clumps or even in small, underground tunnels they create themselves.

These insects can be as tiny as a fly or as big as a grasshopper. In this article, we take a closer look at what insect lays these eggs, how to identify the eggs and the preventative measures you can take.

What Insects Lay Eggs in The Soil?

earthworm eggs in soil

Whether you are planting in a garden or in-house plant-pot, insect eggs are inevitable. 

In North America, there are around 65 species of June beetles, and they all lay their eggs on the soil surface. 

In addition, any species of non-stinging wasp that lay their eggs inside tree trunks or similar structures also do so by laying their eggs into the soil underneath trees.

A list of a few worst egg-laying insects are given below;

Ants:

One of the common insects you might find in the soil is ants. Ant eggs are small, white, and oval-shaped. They usually form in the spring when temperatures are warm enough for eggs to hatch.

Snails & Slugs:

Snails and slugs with other crawling insects prefer clean areas with a nearby water supply. They can get food and hatch quickly. They like to hide and breed in mulch, garden soil, or under rocks.

Aphids:

These multi-colored, pear-shaped, tinny creations cause a significant problem. Aphids make holes in plant leaves and stem and suck plant juices. Weak plants can not survive after their eggs are in the soil.

Black Turfgrass Ataenius:  

These are spring attackers of turfgrass. These are black, ¼ inch tiny beetles. They give eggs, hatch into small white grubs, and feed there till mid-summer.

Borers:

Few beetles and larvae are borers. They make tunnels into canes, stems, and shrubs of various trees. In this way, they weakened the plant and caused ultimate death.

Flies:

There are a total of fifteen fly species known to lay eggs in the soil including fungus gnats. Eight of these families contain only one species each. Of the five remaining, two species in each family either have larvae that live in the soil or require pupation. 

Bagworm, Bean leaf beetles, Cabbage looper, Colorado potato beetle, and many more are examples of soil egg-laying insects.

Note: Depending on what you want to grow in your garden, it is essential to know which type of insect is laying the eggs. This way, you can avoid using harmful chemicals and make adjustments to your soil condition.

What is The Color of Insect Eggs in Soil?

It is challenging for an ordinary person to differentiate insects’ egg colors. Professionals opinion in some researchers gather the information given below;

InsectsEgg Characteristics
Female stink bugsLays darker eggs to avoid Ultraviolet rays. Their egg color varies from dark brown to black.
Beetle pestsCan produce a cluster of 100 or more yellow-colored eggs.
Moth Pest, (Corn Worms)Lays eggs in fresh corn farms as a light yellow spherical ball.
AntsPale white in a cluster form.
Cutworms and armywormsWhite to pale yellow fuzzy appearance
RootwormsEggs are pale yellow and elongated like a football.
Fungus GnatsLay yellowish-white eggs on the surface of moist soil.
Root weevilsLays Pale white elongated eggs in clusters
Bed bug eggs1mm in length. You can find a batch of 20-50 eggs in cluster form.
Stem borersLays eggs like a white fuzzy patch

See our Posts on Colored Balls in Soil:

How Do You Prevent Insects From Laying Eggs in The Soil?

It would be good to take proper precautionary measures to prevent future infestations when you successfully control eggs, larvae, and adult pests by eliminating methods. 

Using Neem Oil on the Soil for Insect Eggs

Neem oil comprises mainly triglycerides, steroids, and many triterpenoids, of which azadirachtin is the most well-known and studied.

Azadirachtin is very effective against soil-dwelling pests and pathogenic organisms, but it does not harm friendly fauna such as earthworms and microbes.

When used as a drench on the soil the plant can absorb the active ingredient, Azadirachtin, which is then transported throughout the plant via its vascular system.

Soil drenching is the process of adding diluted control products directly to the base of a plant.

The plant can now ward off pests both in and out of the soil.

Additionally, having the solution of neem oil directly in the soil would act as a first defense repellant for any laying insects venturing close to where it is applied.

Using Beneficial Nematodes on the Soil for Insect Eggs

Beneficial nematodes belong to one of two genera: Steinernema and Heterorhabditis. Four species of Steinernema and one species of Heterorhabditis are commercially available in the United States. 

Steinernema is the most widely studied beneficial nematode because it is easy to produce.

Beneficial nematodes are excellent biological pesticides because of their effectiveness and environmental safety.

They are 0.6 to 2 millimeters long and often hardly visible.

Beneficial nematodes move in water-filled spaces between particles of soil. They attack small insects and their eggs within the soil as they move around and search for food.

These help control many common garden pests, including armyworms, rootworms, fleas, fungus gnats, stem borers, root weevils, cutworms, and billbugs.

Nematodes do not do well in light therefore a crop cover, large plant foliage, or mulch can help prevent direct sunlight from reaching the soil.

Mechanical Methods of Control

Inspect your newly bought plant thoroughly before plantation. 

The plant container and foliage should wash adequately to remove possible insects. 

You can keep your plant separate from others until you are sure that no pest is coming out of the plant pot. Inspection can help in minimizing the pest population.

Some more valuable tips can help in preventing egg-laying in soil;

  • It is essential to clean garden soil regularly. You have to build a clean, healthy, and replant growth with regular food and water supply for plant growth.
  • Soil turning every day can cause erosion and compaction. You can lose a smooth soil surface that makes possibilities for bugs laying eggs in the sand.
  • Well-decomposed compost helps soil in restructuring itself. You can place a Compost bin every spring to strengthen your garden soil.
  • Mulch is applied to the soil surface. It stops bugs from reaching soil in most cases. Hence, it prevents bugs from laying eggs.
  • Rotating the crops every season forces pests to run away.

How To Remove Tiny Balls or Eggs From Soil?

Soil is an excellent environment for insects and other wildlife. Unfortunately, due to the invasive nature of some of these creatures, we must find ways of dealing with them.

Learning what they look like and where to find them can help keep your garden, warehouse, or greenhouse safe from pests. 

Washing WIth Water:

Some insects lay eggs in the ground, while a few lay eggs on leaves. For plant sand, you can use fertilizers. Leaves are washed with a stream of water to get rid of eggs.

Organic Fertilizers:

A few studies on synthetic and organic fertilizers have found that organic fertilizer produces better results for plant growth and egg demolishing.

Imidacloprid is widely used as an insecticide due to its persistence in soil. It can kill adult insects along with eggs.

Hydrogen Peroxide:

Hydrogen peroxide is a better option if you want to use a safer method, not a chemical insecticide. 

Many people keep this in plants’ first-aid box as it helps control fungus gnats eggs in the soil. 

The method for using hydrogen peroxide is to use 3% H2O2 in 4 parts of water. Then rinse the plant; eggs will be attacked by it. 

If you face difficulty, then nematodes are alternatives. The nematodes are predators. They prey on insects and also destroy tiny eggs. 

If you’re still not satisfied with the chemical or organic fertilizers, you can change the soil. Just discard the infested soil and get rid of eggs. 

Make sure there are no eggs or larvae attached to the plant roots.

Note: Some eggs are more resistant to insecticides than others because their shells can prevent the chemicals from reaching the larvae inside.

Can Insect Eggs Affect Plants?

Yellow eggs on leaf

Insect eggs on in the soil are common and can be harmful to plants if they are not correctly identified and removed. However, some plants can produce a hypersensitive response that protects the plants before the eggs hatch.

Bugs lay eggs in the soil or underside of the leaves. Larvae hatch from eggs and become adult caterpillars, maggots, or grubs.

The Larva stage of stink bugs is the most dangerous because they grow fast at this stage. They need more food for energy and, therefore, eat plants fast. This stage leads to massive destruction in a short period.

It is also observed that some harmful bug larvae can change their place. Flea beetles are examples. 

They cause massive destruction at one location and move to another place. Prevention for such reactions is mandatory.

Insects can also lay eggs on plant leaves that can result in infestation and eventually death of the plant if not removed on time.

Insects can also cause holes in Potatoes and Cucumbers.

Holes in potatoes are mainly caused by wireworms which are the larvae of click beetles. They tunnel into the potato tuber leaving a hole behind.

Holes in cucumbers are mainly caused by pickle worms which tend to burrow into the fruit leaving holes in their trail. Fungal or bacterial diseases often develop once entry has occurred.

The Hypersensitive Response in Plants for Defense

Most plants have a unique first line of defense that helps them protect themselves from enemies before becoming harmful. 

For example, some butterfly eggs can trigger a hypersensitive response in plants. 

This response is known for the death of cells and plant tissues around the egg and, thus, leads to desiccation or the dropping of the egg.

This is how plants protect themselves by preventing the eggs from hatching on the leaves.

In some other cases, plants make themselves more attractive to parasite wasps that help devour harmful eggs. 

The effects of eggs on plants are induced by changes in the photosynthetic activity of leaves and the plant’s secondary metabolism and growth. 

Examples of egg deposition effects can be the induction of hypersensitive-like plant response, formation of neoplasms, or production of ovicidal plant substances.

In addition, egg deposition can induce a change of the plant’s odor and leaf surface chemistry, which serve indirect plant defense with the help of antagonists of the insect eggs.

These egg-induced changes lead to the attraction of egg parasitoids and their assistance on a leaf, respectively. 

Thus egg-induced plant changes and address egg-induced effects on the plant’s transcriptional pattern.

Moreover, biological control through natural enemies of the harmful herbivores and exploitation of the genetic variation in resistance traits among wild relatives are two promising sustainable strategies to reduce pests. 

With this, such traits often allow the pest to continue feeding and act when damage already exists. 

Killing the insect egg before the pest can cause harm is, therefore, necessary in preventing any harm that the larvae may cause the plant or entire crop.

Insect Eggs on Plant Leaves

The yellow eggs found on plant leaves can be the eggs of moths, beetles, aphids, and stink bugs. Once laid, the eggs can be pale yellow which can change as it ages. If allowed to hatch, the larvae will feed on the plant leaves until maturity which will affect the overall health of the plant.

These insects lay their eggs there so that the larvae will have a source of food and protection when hatched. 

In addition, some larvae can also fall onto the soil when hatched and then attack the root system of the plant host.

Either way, whether it’s on the leaves or in the soil eggs should be properly identified and removed in their early stages before any harm is caused when they hatch.

The Takeaway

Insects eggs are slightly paler, e.g., Snails egg looks like a yellow fertilizer balls or prills. Yellowish eggs can also belong to ants. Worm eggs are more spherical. 

It is best to eliminate these insects’ eggs from the soil long before they hatch for better plant growth.

Maintaining the water supply, mulch, compost, and hydrogen peroxide spray can help you kill eggs. Many preventive pest control centers are available for gardeners’ help as well.

Using beneficial nematodes and drenching the soil with neem oil has also proven effective in fighting against and preventing insects and their eggs from killing plants and devastating entire garden crops.

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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