How to Get Rid of Houseplant Pests and Insects

Hi Judy,
I have two house plants that have recently developed some small gnats flying around them. One is a Sanseveria and the other is a Shefflera. Can you help with a cure? I also have a palm whose leaves have become sticky and also the floor around it. I don’t know why everything is developing disease at the same time! Please help.
Thank you!!

Hi Heather,

You have “fungus” gnats. This small dark skinny pest flies and jumps around plants and people driving us all crazy. Fungus Gnats develop in moist potting soil, feeding on root hairs and emerging as adults every 30 days. The best way to get rid of Fungus Gnats is to allow the soil to thoroughly dry out. This eliminates the eggs and gnats in the pot. Use yellow sticky cards to trap the Fungus Gnats that are flying around. Place little pieces of the card inside the pot of the infested plant and near doors, vents, and windows. Stir the soil to encourage the pests to fly around and land on the cards. Change the sticky cards as their surface becomes covered with dead insects & other debris.

The sticky residue on the palm sounds like the plant pest scale. Soft Brown Scale is the most common scale that attacks indoor houseplants especially ficus, ivy, spider plants, ferns, aralia, and schefflera. It appears as small bumpy brown spots that appear to move. As the scale sucks on the sap of the plant it secretes a sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew attracts black mildew. Because of the shell-like exterior, sprays are only partially effective against scale. Wipe off the lines of brown oval bumps with your finger, a cloth, or a child’s toothbrush then spray the plant with Neem Oil. Use the green solution to clean off the black mildew.

You can see pictures and read more about the different pests that attack houseplants in the Glossary of the website.




Fungus Gnats:

Spider Mites:



whiteflyWhiteflies are small gnat-like insects, covered in a powdery white wax; they feed on the sap of plants. This causes leaf-drop and weakens the plant in general. Whiteflies secrete a sticky substance called honeydew while they feed. The flying adults lay eggs on the tops of leaves, but it is the immature nymph stage, feeding unnoticed on the underside of the leaves, that does the real damage. Yellow sticky cards are a good way to trap the flying adults and prevent new eggs. Spray the Green Solution to get rid of the feeding nymphs on the underside of the leaves.: