Tiny White Ants In The Soil – Are They Harmful?

Ants , as tiny as they are, are the most common of all the insects in the entire world. In fact, it’s estimated there are 1 million billion of them living among us.

Typically when you think of ants you expect them to be black, brown, or even red-colored.


So, if you’ve noticed white ants in the soil of your plants, you’re probably wondering what they are and what to do about them. 

The problem is, white ants don’t actually exist, and the term “white ants” is actually another name for termites .

But, don’t panic! Finding termites in the soil of your plant isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. 

Make sure to read the text below and find out what you should do if you find them in soil. 

Tiny White Ants in the Soil?

If you find white ants in soil, you are likely facing a termite infestation. White ants often use soil to nest in and feed on the nutrients from your plant’s roots. This can be battled by treating your soil with pesticides or by transplanting your plant into fresh and clean soil. 

Identifying white ants in soil

Termites are winged ant-like creatures that are usually white or yellowish translucent color. 

They travel in colonies, so it is likely that if you notice a few there are probably more nested deep in the soil. 

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Many gardeners don’t expect the white ants in their soil to be termites, typically thinking that they reside in wood and furniture. 

But in fact, the soil of your plant is the perfect medium for termites to grow in. The moisture in the soil is what attracts termites to it, making it the perfect area for them to build their nest. 

If you do identify termites in the soil of your plant, it is important to act immediately as they can quickly spread and start attacking your home, something that has been known to cause serious damage. 

Getting rid of the white ants

Using pesticides

A quick and fast option to remove white ants from the soil is to use a pesticide. These can be bought from garden centers and nurseries. 

There are several solutions on the market specifically designed for getting rid of white ants, aptly named termiticides. 

Usually, these need to be diluted with water and poured or sprayed into the soil of your plant. 

However, be sure to thoroughly read through the ingredients in your chosen pesticide. Pesticides aimed at getting rid of termites often contain very harsh chemicals that could cause irreversible damage to your plant. 

Natural solutions

Organic pesticides can be much less harsh on your plant and can also benefit plant growth.

Hydrogen peroxide is a popular white ant killing solution, and be purchased at a low price from most pharmacies.

Mix four parts water to one part of hydrogen peroxide before adding it into the ground. This mixture will usually kill them within only 1 day. 

Hydrogen peroxide is gentle on your plant, and it can be applied to the soil again if the first application proves unsuccessful. 

This solution will also aid root growth and can provide the plant with extra oxygen, improving your plant’s overall health. 

Transplanting your plant

If your soil is particularly riddled in white ants, or you have a plant that you believe could be sensitive to pesticides and chemicals, you could choose to repot your plant. 

Precautions need to be taken when choosing to actively disturb the infested soil, as this has now become a nest for the white ants. There may be more living beneath the soil than you expect. 

You should ensure that you work on transplanting away from any other plants, and don’t do so inside or close to your home.

The termites could easily relocate themselves and take up a new home in your house, so I would suggest laying a sheet or bag that you can put the infected soil into as soon as possible.

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Ensure that you brush all of the soil from the roots of your plant, and use running water to thoroughly wash the roots in case there are any termite eggs left behind. 

Repot your plant into a sterilized plant pot with clean soil. Regularly check your plants for signs of the white ants returning.

Preventing white ants in soil

You should monitor your plants and their soil regularly, this means checking at least once a week for any signs of infestation. 

Avoid placing your plant near any wood or lumber. Moist and damp wood attracts termites, which could then lead to them making a home in your soil. 

You should also make sure not to overuse the amount of mulch you are putting onto the soil. 

Overusing mulch is going to create a lot of moisture, which will attract white ants as the perfect home

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding White Ants in Soil

Can white ants kill my plant?

Usually, white ants will not have any effect on your plant. However, if your plant is considered woody, the white ants could end up attacking it. 

Will white ants go away on their own?

White ants will not go away untreated. They may relocate when their present food source has depleted, but this will likely mean they will seek a new place in your garden or home to cause further damage. 

Can I use salt to make the white ants go away?

Using a saline mix of salt and water has been known to kill white ants. The downside to this is that the salt dehydrates your plants.