Yellow Insect Eggs in Soil Vs Yellow Balls in Soil

In order to keep your plants growing properly, you need to keep the soil in which they grow healthy. Insects that lay eggs in the soil can definitely pose a problem to the health of your plants, so it’s important to treat the soil on time. Read on to learn how to identify and get rid of insect eggs in the soil.

Identifying Yellow Balls In Soil

Although insect eggs definitely befall in the ‘yellow balls’ category, they aren’t the only yellow balls you might find in your soil. For example, granular fertilizer also comes in the form of small yellow balls.

Before ridding your soil of these tiny yellow spheres, it’s important to identify what they exactly are, as fertilizer is useful, and removing it from your soil could be detrimental to plant growth. As a general rule, clusters of balls in the soil are most likely insect eggs, as opposed to fertilizer. Granular plant food is usually spread around and tends not to clump together. 

Small Yellow Bug Eggs

Since most insects start from eggs, it’s reasonable to think that the yellow balls you’ve found are actually insect eggs. The truth is, they aren’t tiny and yellow all the time, as they change size and color as they mature.

That means that insect eggs can be white, yellow, brown, and all tones in between. There’s also the importance of the way they’re laid – some insect eggs are laid in clusters (which are usually connected with some sort of mucus), while others are laid individually.

To know for sure, you could press the yellow sphere between your thumb and forefinger to break it apart. If it is an insect egg, you’ll likely be able to identify a small in-development insect inside. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward whether you have detected a bug egg or fertilizer!

Soft-Bodied Mollusks

Bear in mind that insects aren’t the only class of animals laying eggs in the soil, as clustered eggs can also point to slugs or snails.

Slugs are classified as soft-bodied mollusks rather than insects or bugs. They lay their eggs in clusters in the soil in which they live as shown in the picture below.

slug eggs on soil
Slug Eggs on Soil

So, to identify insect eggs, remember that they can range in color and size, and they come both in clusters and individually. Additionally, they’re squishy – if you take an egg and press it between your thumb and your finger – it will squish (and likely break) from the pressure.

Insect Eggs That Have Fallen from Leaves

some insects don’t lay their eggs in the soil, but on leaves above it. On occasion, the eggs can fall down and land on the ground beneath. This is typical of many species of beetles, moths, spiders, and aphids that lay their eggs on leaves.

insect eggs on leaf

These eggs are no different in structure and color from eggs that are laid in the soil (small, round, white-yellow-brown), and they are often covered in an adhesive or mucousy material that sticks them to the leaf.

In case you find them, test them with the pressing test – they’ll react the same way soil eggs do.

Fertilizer

Fertilizers can be mistaken for insect eggs very easily because it’s almost exactly the same in shape, size, and color. However, granular fertilizer usually isn’t squishy and it’s very small.

Granular fertilizer comes in an array of colors including not only yellow but also white and brown.

fertilizer balls
Fertilizer

So, how to tell granular fertilizer from insect eggs? The pressing test. Granular fertilizer is hard to touch, and you won’t be able to change its shape by pressing it. If anything, you’ll break it apart if you press it hard enough, but it won’t release any sort of liquid.

Yellow Seeds

You could also make the mistake of thinking seeds are insect eggs – there are plenty of yellow, round seeds out there – yellow mustard seeds and rapeseed, to name a few.

Just like fertilizer, seeds are usually hard and will break into pieces rather than becoming a swishy mess like insect eggs do when pressed.

seeds on soil surface
Seeds

What Insect Lays Eggs in Soil?

The most common types of insects to lay yellow eggs in soil are ants (which spend their entire lives living in soil), cutworms, rove beetles, ground beetles, crickets, and even yellowjackets.

Spider Eggs in Plant Soil

Spiders can lay up to 3000 eggs, which are usually connected to a web. It’s definitely possible for spiders to lay eggs underground, but you’re much more likely to find them on the plant itself, as spiders prefer staying above ground. They’re great climbers and being above ground keeps them somewhat safe from predators.

These insects aren’t dangerous to your plants and removing their eggs is unnecessary, although understandable.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are considered to be pests since they’re always near the soil. As larvae, they primarily feed on fungi growing on soil, but they’re known to inflict damage on seedlings, which is why eliminating them is imperative.

Yellow Insect Eggs in Soil
Fungus Gnat

These insects aren’t dangerous to adult, healthy plants, but they’re definitely an indication of problems with the plant. For example, they’re attracted to root rot (which occurs when plants are consistently overwatered). If you see fungus gnats near your plant, it’s possible you have root rot.

However, they’re easily killed by laying sand and mulch around the plants, removing diseased roots, replacing soil with a better draining type, and reducing watering frequency.

Ants

Ants can cause damage to adult plants, and this is a common problem in Florida with red imported fire ants. If a colony of ants develops near a plant, even if that plant is an adult tree, they will eat the bark, opening wounds on the tree which allows parasites to form. This can even cause tree death, which is why it’s important to get rid of them immediately.

How to Get Rid of Insect Eggs in Soil

After making sure that the tiny eggs in the soil are actually insects, not fertilizer or seeds, the best way to get them out of your soil is by scooping them out. This is especially easy if they’re formed in clusters.

Alternatively, if they’re spread around and you don’t want to pick them up one by one, you can mix 3% hydrogen peroxide with water (in a 1:4 ratio) and water the soil with it. It won’t harm your plants, but it will definitely kill all eggs.

How to Prevent Insects from Returning

The only way to make sure your soil isn’t infested with insect eggs in the future is by constantly managing soil conditions. This can be achieved with the use of pesticides and insecticides or by introducing insect-eating predators to your soil.

Pesticides

According to the EPA pesticides are chemicals that can be used to kill or prevent insect populations by affecting their nervous system. The problem is, pesticides receive bad press for the damage they pose to surrounding plants, wildlife, and humans when used. Plus, insects are known to build up a tolerance when used repeatedly.

Broad-spectrum pesticides are a good choice if you’re not sure what insects you’re dealing with. However, using an insecticide targeted at a specific species minimizes the risk of harming non-target insects such as ladybugs, butterflies, and lacewings (to name but a few).

When choosing pesticides, make sure that they’re not harmful to your pets as they might get poisoning from eating plant foliage. You can quickly and easily obtain this information from pesticide manufacturers’ labeling before buying.

Pesticides come in many forms – spray, gels, dust, and baits. No matter what form they come in, they all have a label explaining how to use them.

Do not stray away from those instructions, as pesticides can be dangerous, even lethal, for children, adults, and pets if consumed.

Predators, parasitoids, and pathogens

Allowing beneficial predators, such as birds, onto your land is another great way to keep insects away. A lot of animals feed on insects and you can count on them to keep your soil healthy.

If you have insects in potted plants, especially houseplants in your home, then it’s a whole different story as you can’t exactly let birds fly around your house. In that case, you should rely on other methods.

Aside from predators, you can introduce insects to parasitoids or pathogens. There are specific parasitoids for specific insect species, which allows you to infect the insects with parasitoids and let the parasitoids kill the insects. However, for this to work, you need to positively identify the specific insect species – not all parasitoids work on all insect species.

Pathogens, like bacteria, fungi, and viruses, are another effective way of keeping insects away for good. There are very specific bacteria and viruses that only kill insects and applying them to your plants can be a long-term solution for insect infestations.

To avoid killing your plant or harming yourself and your pets, keep in mind that amateurs shouldn’t work with parasitoids or pathogens without seeking expert opinions first. It’s imperative that an expert identifies the insects first and provides you with all the necessary information on parasitoids and pathogens.

What Bugs Lay Clusters of Yellow Eggs?

Aside from the number one suspect slugs,…other insects will also lay clusters of yellow eggs in the soil. Here are a few of the most common culprits:

Aphids

If you notice a cluster of eggs on the leaves of a houseplant, they might be aphid eggs. They usually lay them on the underside of a leaf. The eggs are elliptical and are either glued to the leaf or attached by a thread.

As with most insects, aphid eggs start out light in color, but they darken with maturity. Some aphid eggs become completely black with time, and they’re often covered with a wax-like substance that makes them distasteful to predators.

You must be quick if you want to eradicate your soil of aphid eggs, as they can hatch in less than 10 days, leaving you with a new colony of insects in your home.

Beetles

All beetles lay eggs, but not all of them are the same. Most beetle eggs are soft, but species from the Cupedidae family lay hard eggs. The method of laying eggs and the characteristics of the eggs vary from one species to another.

Some beetles lay very few eggs, while others lay massive clusters. Some eggs are small, while others are large. Some, are white, yellow or pink. Then, there are beetles that lay their eggs under leaves, while there are beetles that roll their eggs into a leaf to protect them.

beetle eggs
Beetle Eggs

What’s certain for all beetles is that they all develop into larvae, which are the real danger to your plants. Larvae need to feed virtually without pausing between meals in order to develop. If the egg is hatched in your plant’s soil – the larva is definitely going to eat the leaves of your plant.

Since some larvae grow to relatively huge sizes, such as that of the Hercules beetle, their eating habits are incredibly ravenous. If you don’t want your plant to be eaten, you need to get rid of beetles while they’re still eggs.

This is typically a 4 to 19-day period, as they hatch very quickly.

Moths

A very similar story to that of beetles – moths lay eggs (up to a thousand at a time) which develop into caterpillars. Once they hatch, they have to eat plant material in order to develop. If moths lay their eggs on your plant – they’ll definitely eat your plant.

moth eggs
Moth Eggs

Moths also lay their eggs in clusters, and they can lay them directly on the stem or branches, on the leaves, or on the soil, although the latter is rarer.

Yellow Insect Eggs in Soil Final Thoughts

Now that I have explained why insects and their eggs can be dangerous for your plants, it is easy to understand why removing them while they’re still contained in eggs is imperative.

To remove insect eggs from your plants, you have to first identify them and make sure you’re not mistaking them for granular fertilizer or seeds. After that, you have to remove them by hand or with a hydrogen peroxide-water solution.

It’s also important to prevent insects from invading your plants ever again, as they’ll keep planting eggs in the same spot. You can do this through the use of pesticides and by letting beneficial predators kill them!

FAQ Yellow Insect Eggs in Soil