How to Identify and Treat House Plant Pests
Spring is here and summer is approaching and with these seasons come open windows, screen doors, and an invasion of house plant pests, not that we haven’t been have our fair share all fall and winter. Once an insect infects one or your plants, the chances are fairly good that it will spread to the rest if you don’t isolate the infected plant immediately. Removing dead plant debris, providing good air circulation, keeping leaves clean, and never using products like milk or mayonaise to clean the leaves are good preventative measures. Check your plants often, because bugs like AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com. reproduce so quickly you may have none one day and a week later have hundreds. Be sure to look at the underside of leaves and stir the soil to see what might be hiding. Keep a package of Yellow Sticky Insect Cards on hand so you can quickly put a few pieces in your plants and start trapping the pests as soon as you see them. Here are the most common insects that attack our houseplants and some pictures to help identify them. You can find more detailed information about plant pests and how to get rid of them in the Glossary Section of HousePlant411.
Fungus GnatsThis 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.
scaleSoft 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.
thripThrip are tiny winged brown insects that feed on the surfaces of plant leaves, flowers, and buds. They leave silver spots around their feeding areas and dark dots of excrement. Thrip not only weaken plant growth and distort buds and flowers, they transmit viruses from plant to plant as they fly around. The Green Solution, Neem Oil, and Yellow Sticky Cards all are effective in eliminating thrip.s
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.