Root Aphids or Soil Mites are a major concern for plant owners, and we are here to help you decide which one is! Both of them present unique characteristics, and so we are here to explain all of them to you in our article.

The Differences of Root Aphids and Soil Mites

Let’s learn more about the differences between the two to help you overcome the dilemma.

Features  Root Aphids Soil Mites
Color Usually light brown, may look like white next to soil or roots.  Vary in color
Size 1.4-2.4 mm 0.5-1 mm
Body Round-shaped, six legs and antennae sprouting from the head. Oval-shaped. unsegmented, white and brown bodies with eight legs
Habitat You will usually find them near the roots and around the stem’s base. They prefer a warm environment. They crawl on the soil, not necessarily on plants or their roots.
Wings Yes  No
Loved by ants Yes No
Damage/plant symptoms Retarded plant growth, No evident damage or symptoms. 
Impact on plant Harmful pests  They aid in the processing of organic materials in the soil.
Average Life Expectancy Thirty days Seven years

What Are the Main Differences Between Root Aphids and Soil Mites?

The main difference between Root Aphids and Soil Mites is their impact on plants. Root Aphids are insects that thrive on the plant’s sap, leaving the plant with no nutrients to grow, while Soil Mites are not insects. Plants thrive with Soil Mites and die when affected by Root Aphids. 

The size difference between Root Aphids and Soil Mites is the easiest way to classify them. The Root Aphids, fungus gnats, are almost double the soil of Soil Mites, making them hard to miss. 

A physical and prominent difference between Root Aphids and Soil Mites is their body shape. Root Aphids have rounded bodies and antennas, while the Soil Mites have no prominent heads. Root Aphids have six legs, while Soil Mites have eight legs. 

Furthermore, Root Aphids have small tails, while Soil Mites do not have any tails, tubes, or entire bodies. Root Aphids develop wings with the change in the season, while Soil Mites cannot fly or jump and spend their time sitting still.

If your plant is showing retarded signs of growth, it is likely under attack by the Root Aphids. Belonging to the beneficial fauna, Soil Mites do not cause any damage to the plants. Another difference that sets Root Aphids apart from Soil Mites is their habitat. Root Aphids crawl at the plant’s base, while Soil Mites prefer dwelling in moist compost or gloomy soil areas. 

Where the Root Aphids and Soil Mites lay, eggs are yet another distinguishing factor. Root Aphids mostly lay eggs in the soil during the fall. Most of the Soil Mites lay eggs in less quantity on the soil, while the rest carry them on their backs.

Normally the Root Aphids are mostly white or brown, but they can be dark green, gray, or yellow, while Soil Mites are usually white or brown and are also found in black, orange, pink, red, or green. 

You can distinguish between Root Aphids and Soil Mites with the presence of ants. If you see ants crawling around your plant, it can indicate that it is infested with Root Aphids. On the other hand, Soil Mites and ants do not get along well.

Root Aphids and Soil Mites spread in different ways. Root Aphids rely on ants transporting them from one plant to another as they are slow movers. But if they have infested a plant indoors, they use their wings to move to a different plant. Whereas, Soil Mites transfer with contaminated organic matter

Root Aphids and Soil Mites differ in having offspring. Soil Mites have larvae that hatch eggs, while Root Aphids produce baby nymphs. 

What Are the Root Aphids’ Specifications?

The Root Aphids’ specifications are that they are garden pests from the Phylloxera family, closely related to aphids that are normally seen on rose bushes. They do not just infest outdoor plants but have become a major threat to indoor plants. 

– Physical Appearance

Root Aphids are small pests, not more than 1.4-2.4 mm in length. They are pear-shaped with an undefined waist in between the thorax and abdomen. You will see two antennas sprouting from the head. They are usually white or brown but can be in colors resembling the roots or soil, helping them amalgamate in the roots or soil.

Root Aphids Facts

The pests have six thin legs, three on each side of the body. Root Aphids are generally slow movers, and these six legs help the root suckers to move around. Furthermore, they develop wings in the growing season they use for transportation. They have a small tail and two small tailpipes from either end of the abdomen.

– Plant Damage Caused by the Root Aphids

When your plant has died or begins to show signs of dying, know that the aphid colony has outgrown it. It indicates an Aphid attack on your plant, which can cause serious damage if not taken care of immediately! Aphids are a serious threat to your plant and shouldn’t be underestimated!

Root Aphids assemble around the root system of the plants, and since they are small in size, there are fewer chances of discovering them without a proper root inspection. Once in a blue moon, if you ask us. 

If your plant is showing signs of stunted growth, it is very likely that it is under attack by these pests. They suck on the plant’s sap, depriving it of essential growth nutrients.

Other symptoms of Root Aphids infestation include withered, yellow, and cured leaves. You will notice that the plant’s fruits and flowers are smaller than you would have seen before the infestation. They will look like the nutrition has been sucked out of them. 

Furthermore, you will notice a white residue that has a wax-like structure, a clear giveaway that the aphids are residing in the plant’s roots or stems.

– Habitat of Root Aphids

As we discussed earlier, Root Aphids live on the plant’s stems or around the roots. They can also be found under the soil’s surface. Root Aphids are the most active when the climate is warm, mostly in spring and autumn, and they cause the most damage to plants. 

– Relationship With Ants

Root Aphids and ants have a symbiotic relationship. If your plant is suffering from Root Aphid infestation, ants are likely swarming near your plant too.

A Study of their Relationship

Ants have an affection for Root Aphids- they suck the honeydew produced by the pests while feeding on the plant’s sap and, in return, protect them from other predators.

– Life Expectancy and Producing the New Generation

Root Aphids are short-lived pests with an average life expectancy of thirty days. They mature and reach the reproductive age within ten days of being born as Nymphs. They lay eggs in the soil so that they can survive winter. They also lay eggs on the plant’s lower stems or leaves in spring and summer.


What Are the Soil Mites’ Specifications?

The Soil Mites’ specifications are that they are small and have an insect-like appearance, but are not actually insects. They are related to the spider family and are also invertebrates. They have multiple sub-species, and the collective term used for them is “Soil Mites.” 

 Physical Appearance

Soil Mites are typically white or brown but can be of colors like black, orange, red, and even pink. The color variation helps them blend in the soil as if they are not even there.

They are so small that there is a good chance that they will go unnoticed. They are almost impossible to detect by the naked eye; you need to use a microscope to see if they are there. 

Soil Mites Characteristic

– Plant Damage Caused by Soil Mites

Soil Mites, being beneficial nematodes, do not cause any harm to the plant. They feed on decaying organic matter like leaves, mosses, and dead organisms and transform the useless mass into nutrients and energy. And that’s not all; they consume bacteria, saving the plant from its effects.

– Habitat of Soil Mites

You will mostly find Soil Mites living their busy life in the deep layers of soil. They like to remain in moist and dark areas and appreciate a bit of sunlight now and then. You will not find them near the plants, although they might be hidden nearby in the soil. They are the most energetic and active in the fall. 

– Relationship With Ants

Since Soil Mites are so tiny, they cannot survive in the presence of ants. This is a good solution to removing them if you are looking for a way out.

– Life Expectancy and Producing the New Generation

Soil Mites have a considerably long life expectancy of seven years. Using the support it gets from the soil, it can grow and live for years, feeding on the soil it lives in. Without nutritious soil to sustain it, soil mites would not last long, proving how important soil is for them! 

Mites lay eggs in small quantities. The larvae of Soil Mites hatch from the eggs and have six legs, two legs less than an adult Soil Mite.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How to Tell if My Plant Has Soil Mites and Should I Let Them Stay?

You can tell if your plant has soil mites by looking at the dirt of your plant. Soil Mites usually prefer damp and dark places with little sunlight. Ensure the Soil Mites stay by keeping your plants where they have a portion of dampness and shade (depending on the plant.) 

– Are Soil Mites Visible to the Human Eye?

Soil Mites are just barely visible to the human eye. They are small arthropods that are closely related to spiders. They are often in white or brown and are only 1 mm in length, as small as the full stop after this sentence. Use a microscope for an up-close look. 

– How Can I Tell if My Plant Has Root Aphids?

If you see a powdery or wax-like textured residue near your roots, you can know for sure that Root Aphids have been feeding on your plant for quite a while now, which calls for serious and immediate attention and action.

My Plant Has Root Aphids

– How Can I Tell if My Plant Has Root Aphid Damage?

You can tell your plant has root aphid damage if it shows retarded growth pattern. Furthermore, you will also notice your plant wilting and the leaves turning yellow and curling. Usually, these signs and symptoms can also be caused by the malnutrition of plants. 

Still, if you think that you’ve been providing your plant with enough nutrients in its soil and water, then there’s a very good chance that this is an aphid attack on your plants, which can cause major damage to the plant, and if not treated for it soon, can cause lasting effects of damage to it.


As shown in this Root Aphids or Soil Mites Review, the two have similarities like the small size and the same color and are different in the rest of the aspects. The main difference is that the Soil Mites help the plant grow, while Root Aphids adversely affect the plant’s health.

So, leaving the Soil Mites where they are is the general rule of thumb here. Letting the Root Aphids be can be detrimental to your plant’s health. However, detection in the early stages makes the removal quite easy. You can try exposing your plants to Soil Mites and Root Aphids and see the difference yourself. 



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