Springtails in Vermicompost

Great question from “Mel”:

I’m about to harvest and store my first batch of vermicompost. I noticed that I now have a spring tail infestation. I know that spring tails are harmless, but I plan to use the vermicompost for indoors plants. My question is: Will curing and storing the finished vermicompost get rid of unwanted spring tails and other pests? I’m not sure what others do, especially those who sell vermicompost. I suspect they don’t sell vermicompost with spring tails, or do they? I’m hoping that once the food is gone that they spring tails will leave or die off. Do you know? I don’t want spring tails in my potted plants from the vermicompost. Thanks.

Hi Mel,
While adding some vermicompost, containing springtails, to your plants won’t likely create any issues, the infestation is probably an indication that the material has not yet stabilized.

Once most of the “food” value is gone from it they will most likely die off. If you really want to get rid of them sooner rather than later, you might try adding a layer of diatomaceous earth (DE) over the surface of the vermicompost and then maybe a sheet of plastic over that.

The increase in humidity should draw the springtails up, and the layer of DE should result in a lot of them dying off. Taking off the plastic and shining a light down on them should force the survivors back down through the DE, leading to even more mortalities.

Once you feel satisfied that enough of them have been killed off, you can simply removed the layer of DE from the surface.

Curing is never a bad idea, though, and I’m sure that alone would reduce the number of critters in the material. Simply place your vermicompost in some sort of well-ventilated bin, sitting in a dry location (ideally with moderate temperatures), and leave it to sit for maybe a few weeks – or until you feel happy with the texture, smell etc. Periodically mixing it up with a small garden fork during this time is not a bad idea either.

Hope this helps!

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