In this guide, you’ll find out nine tiny bugs in the sandbox that can ruin your children’s playtime. A few of them can also bite your kids.
Plus, you’ll also learn how to get rid of bugs in the sandbox and how to keep the sandbox bug-free forever.
Let’s get into it.
9 Tiny Bugs In The Sandbox
- Sand fleas
- Pill bugs
- Sand wasps
- Carpenter ants
- Red fire ants
Let’s find out why these tiny bugs infest sandboxes.
Springtails – Black Jumping Bugs In The Sandbox
Most of the time, you keep sandboxes in your yard or garden. And your yard can be a home to many pests and bugs.
One of them is springtails.
Springtails are tiny wingless jumping bugs growing between 1/16″ and 1/8″ in length. They can be in different colors. The most common colors are dark brown, grey, black.
Some of them can be cream and light brown too.
Springtails have oval heads with a pair of antennae. These bugs hide in the damp areas of your yard.
So, places like damp soil beds, mulch beds, decaying foliage, and wood pieces are the common areas in your yard where springtails hide.
Springtails look for other damp places when the sources of moisture run out, which happens in the dry season.
That’s the time when springtails get inside your home looking for damp and moist places to hide.
Springtails, one of the most common moisture bugs in homes, will target places like bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, basement because water usage is quite high in these places.
And bathroom being the dampest of all the places in your home, it’s standard to see springtails in the bathroom.
Springtails get into sandboxes when the sand in the sandbox is a bit damp. They’ll jump in the sandbox from their hiding places nearby sandbox.
Springtails don’t bite children, adults, and pets. However, being random jumpers, these bugs can be a nuisance and an irritant for your children playing in the sandbox.
Sand Fleas In The Sandbox
If you use substandard sand or bring in the sand straight from the beach to fill up the sandbox, there can be sand fleas in the sand.
Sand fleas are not fleas. They’re crustaceans like the crabs and lobsters. Whereas fleas are parasites that survive on mammal blood.
On the beach, sand fleas will bury themselves into the sand during the day. They’re active on the beach after sunset.
So, scooping out the sand on the beach and putting it in the sandbox can transfer sand fleas in the sandbox.
Sand fleas do bite humans, pets, and children too. The female sand fleas can also burrow into human skin and feed on the human blood.
Inside the skin, the female sand fleas will lay eggs. This leads to a severe skin infection in humans known as tungiasis.
Pill Bugs In The Sandbox
Pill bugs or rolly polly bugs in the sandbox get into the sandbox from your yard.
Though harmless, pill bugs look scary. They’ve got scales on their bodies, and they’re greyish brown.
In the sandbox, they might look like pebbles, but on poking it, they scurry through the surface.
Like most other bugs in the list, pill bugs invade sandboxes because they’re already there on your property.
Most of the time, pillbugs are accidental invaders to the sandbox. They might crawl into the sandbox out of curiosity.
But if the sand is damp, then pill bugs can even make the sandbox home by digging themselves into the sandbox.
Pill bugs live in and eat decaying organic matter like dead leaves, dead plants, and rotting wood pieces of wood.
If you’ve got compost piles in your yard, then chances are pill bugs will be there too.
Pill bugs also live along the seashores feeding on the planktons. So, if you’re home alongside the coast, then pill bugs in the yard and houses are pretty possible.
When the dampness outdoors decreases, or during the summer months, pill bugs can get inside the house.
Inside your home, pill bugs will hide in damp places like the basement and bathroom.
The best part is pill bugs don’t bite.
So, your children playing in the sandbox with pill bugs in them have no danger from these bugs. But they can scare your kids.
Silverfish In The Sandbox
Silverfish also live under rocks, foliage, mulch beds, and woodpiles in damp outdoor areas.
Silverfish prefer to live in dark and moist areas. So, their presence in the sandbox is coincidental.
One reason for silverfish in the sandbox is the overpopulation of silverfish in your yard.
Silverfish will also lookout for alternative places to hide when the sources of moisture in your yard dry up.
That’s the time when silverfish can get in the sandbox and even inside your home.
Silverfish don’t bite. And they don’t get inside your ears either.
Silverfish are tiny, scaly greyish bugs with scales on their oblong-shaped bodies. They resemble shrimps at a casual look.
Sand Wasps In the Sandbox
Sand wasps are carnivorous hunters. They behave like mud daubers, a solitary wasp, which dig into the soil to nest.
Sand wasps are also solitary wasps resembling yellow jackets. Bugs in the sandbox attract the sand wasps.
Sand wasps will dig into the sand of the sandbox, looking for bugs to eat.
Sand wasps, also known as Stictia, are not aggressive wasps. They won’t intentionally land on you or on your kids to sting.
However, sand wasps can sting in self-defense if you handle them roughly or if they get pressed against your or your children’s skin.
Sand wasps’ favorite prey is the horse flies. So, if you live nearby a barn, where horse flies infest, you can have these sand wasps around hunting horse flies.
Carpenter Ants In The Sandbox
Carpenter ants are mid-size black ants that infest yards and gardens. These ants can invade sandboxes too.
How? They’ll do it by either drilling a through from underground through the base of the sandbox.
Or carpenter ants can also crawl into the sandbox looking for prey or for a place to nest. Food droppings in and around the sandbox also attract the carpenter ants.
If the sandbox is wooden, carpenter ants can drill holes into the wood to lay their eggs.
Carpenter ants can bite your kids. However, they aren’t aggressive as the red fire ants, which can also infest sandboxes.
Carpenter ants are common home invaders too. They’re active in homes starting from the spring months till late fall.
In winter, carpenter ants suddenly disappear because they go into hibernation. But when spring arrives, they become active again.
Spiders In The Sandbox
Spiders won’t hide in the sand of the sandbox. Instead, spiders will sneak inside the gaps and edges of the sandbox, especially when the sandbox is wooden.
In plastic sandboxes, spiders can also hide underneath the sandbox.
In general, spiders are harmless. They shy away from human contact. But spiders can bite your children if, by mistake, spiders get pressed against their skin.
Gnats In The Sandbox
There can be both biting and non-biting gnats in the sandbox. The biting gnats are also known as biting midges which resemble mosquitoes.
And the non-biting gnats are fungus gnats that primarily infest damp places.
Over time, when the sand in the sandbox gets stale, damp, and dirty, it’ll attract fungus gnats and biting midges.
These tiny black flying bugs are active from late spring till late summer.
Fungus gnats lay their eggs in the damp soil beds. And they’ll also lay eggs in the sand of the sandbox if the sand is wet and stale.
Fungus gnats can also enter homes. And they’re one of the common bugs in the cat litter box inside your home.
Many people confuse fungus gnats inside home with fruit flies. But they’re not.
Biting midges will also live in your yard’s soil beds if the manure content in the soil is high. They’ll also egg on moist surfaces. Muddy salt marsh areas are their favorite places to lay eggs.
That’s why biting midges are pretty common in Florida because of too many swamps and marshlands.
Biting midges will bite you and your child. The bite marks are like itchy red welts, and they look like mosquito bites.
Red Fire Ants In The Sandbox
Red fire ants can be the worst bug in the sandbox. If you’re living in any of the southern states, then these biting and stinging ants can infest your yard.
Red fire ants are tiny red ants that build their colonies underneath the soil’s layer. Their nests look like mud mounds with no crater at the tip.
Red fire ants can also sneak inside the sandbox from underneath the ground and build their nests underneath the sands’ surface.
That happens especially when the sandbox is lying idle and unused for days.
They can also build their colonies nearby the sandbox. And if your child steps on the mud mounds, then these ants will bite and sting your child multiple times.
Fire ants bite and sting at the same time. And a single fire ant can bite and sting multiple times.
The bite and sting of the fire ants are painful and extremely itchy. They carry venom, and if your kid is sensitive, the fire ant bite can trigger allergic reactions in your child.
Red fire ants are aggressive. They fiercely defend their nests if they feel they’re under attack.
How To Get Rid Of Bugs In The Sandbox?
Getting rid of the bugs in the sandbox is no rocket science. With a little bit of due diligence and using the right products, you can ensure a joyful time for your kids in the sandbox.
So, follow these seven steps to make the sandbox forever.
Step#1: Get Rid Of Bugs In Your Yard
People’s gravest mistake in eliminating bugs in the sandbox is focusing only on the sandbox.
That’s a wrong approach that will not solve the problem. Why?
It’s because the bugs’ source is the yard where the sandbox is, not the sandbox itself.
So, you’ve to get rid of the bugs in the yard to ensure bugs don’t come back into the sandbox.
First, begin with cleaning the yard. Remove all debris, trash, rotting pieces of wood, and decaying leaves.
If the mulch bed needs replacement, replace it with mulches that repel bugs. Do not use standard wood chips because these wood chips attract many types of bugs, including termites.
Keep an eye for ants. Get rid of ants in your yard and take preventive steps to prevent ants from returning after treatment. Check for ant mounds on the soil.
Ensure no water leakages or water logging problems in your yard. Leaky pipes and stagnant water increase the dampness of your yard.
And the moist yard is a haven for the bugs that infest the sandbox.
Step#2: Clean The Sandbox To Remove Any Bugs In It
Get rid of the old sand in the sandbox. And dispose of it off in a landfill or contact your garbage disposal company to do the job.
No matter what you do, do not dispose of the sand in the sandbox nearby your and others’ property.
Then clean the sandbox with soapy water. You can also use bleach to clean the sandbox.
If the sandbox is wooden, then after cleaning, use an insecticide spray on the sandbox. Let the insecticide spray sit on it for a few hours before moving on to the next step.
Many bugs, like ants, can lay eggs in the wooden sandbox. Some can even hide in the gaps and cracks of the wood.
So, it’s always advisable to use an insecticide to kill and destroy any hidden bugs and their eggs in the sandbox.
Step#3: Clean The Sandbox Again With Soapy Water
Bleach is corrosive and is unsafe for the skin. And insecticide deposits on the sandbox are dangerous.
So, clean the sandbox again with soapy water to remove the bleach or insecticide deposits on the sandbox.
Let the soapy water dry. Then wipe off the surface of the sandbox with a disinfecting wipe.
Step#4: Keep A Fabric, Like Old Bed Sheet, In The Sandbox
Many people start pouring sand into the sandbox after the third step. Please don’t do it.
Instead, cover the base of the sandbox with a fabric.
Why? The fabric acts like a barrier between the sand and the sandbox.
That immensely helps stop the bugs from sneaking into the sandbox from underground.
Step#5: Buy Fresh Child Safe Sand
Do not bring sand from the beach or where the sand is lying in the open for days.
There are two reasons for it.
First, you can bring sand fleas along with the sand. And second, the sand used for construction work has sharp pebbles, which can hurt your child.
So, always buy fresh child-safe packaged sand to fill up your child’s sandbox. These sands are free from bugs, treated, and won’t hurt your child.
Fill the sandbox with child-safe sand. Then move onto the next step.
Step#6: Pour Cinnamon Powder In the Sandbox And Mix It With The Sand
Cinnamon repels bugs. All the bugs that infest the sandbox hate the strong smell of cinnamon powder.
Mixing cinnamon in the sandbox will not only be pleasant for your child’s olfactory senses, but it’ll also keep the bugs away.
Step#7: Spray Child-Safe Organic Bug Repellent Around The Sandbox
This step is a double whammy for the bugs.
Cinnamon in the sand and organic bug repellent around the sandbox guarantees that there won’t be any bugs trying to creep inside the sandbox.
Maggies-farm bug repellent is a reliable child and pet-safe bug repellent that you can use.
Step#8: Change The Sand Once In Every Two Weeks
Sand, too, gets stale. And water usage increases the moisture in the sand, which attracts bugs.
So, it would be best to change the sand in the sandbox at least once in two weeks. Packaged child-safe sand is always better for your kids than substandard sand sourced from the beach or elsewhere.
And yes, do not forget to mix the cinnamon powder in the sand.
Step#9: Keep The Sandbox Covered At Night
Do not leave the sandbox uncovered when your kids are not playing in it. Cover it.
You can make a custom-built cover if your sandbox is big and made of wood.
Most plastic sandboxes come with a lid. So, use the lid to cover the sandbox when your kid isn’t playing in the sandbox.
If there are any gaps and cracks on the wooden sandbox, then caulk them with a sealant.
Step#10: Install A Bug Zapper In Your Yard
Many parents ignore this final step. Bug zappers are essential to keep the biting midges, mosquitoes, and flies away from your yard.
Install a bug zapper in your yard. It’ll help reduce the number of tiny black-biting flying bugs that can bite your child if she’s playing in the sandbox in the evening.
So, follow these ten steps to get rid of bugs in the sandbox and ensure that bugs don’t come back after treatment.
This guide reveals the nine tiny bugs in the sandbox, including six that can land a painful bite on your child.
The nine bugs are –
- Sand fleas
- Sand wasps
- Carpenter ants
- Red fire ants
Out of these, sand fleas, sand wasps, carpenter ants, spiders, biting gnats, and red fire ants are the tiny bugs in the sandbox that can bite.
Also, there’s a 10-step guide to get rid of bugs in the sandbox forever. Follow these steps for a bug-free sandbox, forever.