Pests and marigolds

Herman Meekes hmeekes at BIOSCI.MBP.MISSOURI.EDU
Tue Mar 14 19:44:35 EST 1995

On March 14 1995 Larissa Williams wrote:

>Actually, this post consists of two separate questions.  The first
>regarding a specific pest.  Can anybody identify for me the tiny, white,
>"hopping" creatures I find on the soil of certain of my houseplants.
>They are most noticeable during watering of the plants, as they them
>seem to be disgruntled.  I managed to drown most of them by continuously
>dousing my plants in the sink, though while stirring up the soil with a
>spoon while doing so, more appear.
>     My questions:
>1.  What are they?
>2.  Are they harmful to plants?  If so, what part (roots, stem)?
>3.  Is there a sure-fire method of getting rid of them, and keeping them
>from spreading to other plants?
>4.  Are they plant-specific?

These tiny creatures are most likely primitive insects called Collembola.
They have an English name as well: springtails. Most of these have a forked
organ at the ventral side of the abdomen with which they can jump many
times their bory length, to avoid predators. They thrive on moist soils, so
you will not readily drown them. Springtails most probably are not harmful
to plants, since they feed on soil debris. They actually decompose plant
litter and convert it to plant nourishment. Their presence may indicate
that you keep your plants too moist. Letting the soil dry more than you are
used to (without getting your plants to wilt of course!) will let you get
rid of most springtails.

>Okay, on to the next question.  Regarding marigolds, is there a specific
>variety which I should use to "keep pests out of my vegetable garden"
>(as is commonly advertised) this year, or is there a certain species
>that has this repelling effect?  Also, how densely (how close to one
>another) should I plant them.  I tried planting seeds from a run-of-the-
>mill marigold I had - around the periphery of my garden last year; they
>grew well, but didn't flower until the fall, and were selectively dying,
>so I ended up with very few.  And if I need to get a special sort, where
>can I procure such?  Thanks!

I'm sorry. I don't know anything to answer to this question. Maybe someone else?

Herman Meekes
Biological Sciences            ______________       ______________
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