Noticing some new little houseguests crawling around in your beloved plants? Or maybe you want to prevent them from showing up in the first place (good for you for being proactive!). Either way, bugs in your house plants are a pain. Especially if you already don’t have the greenest of thumbs. Let’s discuss what the most common pests are, as well as how to spot and treat them.
Common Bugs in House Plants
Noticing some webs but don’t necessarily see any creepy crawlers? You may have some spider mites on your hands. These minuscule pests travel from plant to plant. If you suspect them in one of your plants, you’ll want to search the rest. Spider mites lay eggs in the winter and hatch these eggs in the spring. If they happen to have the perfect conditions, they can actually grow from egg to adult in just under a week. If the webs are accompanied by yellowing leaves and leaf loss in general, it may be a sure sign of these mites. In order to treat this situation, you’ll have to stick to organic options (they tend to adapt quickly to chemicals). You can first remove the affected areas and toss them out. Insecticidal soap and neem oil should be applied to the soil and leaves.
Scales are brown, oval-shaped pests that have a sweet tooth for sap. They are almost undetectable as they’re pretty stationery and small. They basically just appear as little “scabs”. Their life cycle is longer than the spider mite. However, it doesn’t make them any less annoying. If your plants are experiencing leaf damage or if you’re seeing dents on your succulents, you may have a scale problem. Again, these guys are resistant to chemicals. Rubbing alcohol is the way to go to eliminate these pests. Running a cotton swab right over the insect should get the job done. Again, you’ll want to pull out the neem oil and insecticidal soap as your final step.
Mealybugs are a type of scale but without armor. They’re white and fuzzy and will hatch in one to three weeks. These pests secrete honeydew. Therefore, a telltale sign that you have a mealybug infestation will be sticky areas on your plants. According to Wild Interiors, “you might also notice ants in the area; ants consume the honeydew and help protect mealybugs in a symbiotic relationship”. In short, keep your eyes peeled for the ants! Fortunately, these bugs are treated the same as scale insects, with rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap, and neem oil.
Aphids are another common houseplant pest. These pests also enjoy sap and they’re capable of some serious damage. They can be green, black, yellow, red, brown, or blue in color. According to leafyplace.com, you’ll also notice sticky spots, black sooty mold fungus, and wilting leaves. A heavy spritz of water may be enough to get rid of these guys. If not, you can opt for some mild soap.
Fungus gnats aren’t just harmless little fruit flies, they can actually cause significant damage. These guys don’t just feast on your leaves. Instead, they live in your soil and chow down on your roots. Their life cycle is quick so you’ll have many gnats in different stages of life at one given time. Again, wilting and yellowing leaves will be some signs of fungus gnats. They look like little mosquitos with sheer wings. Fungus gnats love the moisture so one of your first steps will be to dry out your soil. If you’re looking to kill the eggs and larvae, you can opt for diluted hydrogen peroxide and (you guessed it) neem oil.
General tips and prevention
If you’ve yet to experience pest infiltration/bugs in your house plants, you may just be looking for ways to prevent it in the future. First and foremost, you’ll want to check plants thoroughly before purchasing them. This is one of the more common ways many end up with bugs (they hitch a ride during their transit). This also goes for eggs too. You’ll want to keep your new plants separate from your older ones for a few weeks to keep an eye on them. If you’re bringing in your plants from outdoors, you’ll also want to do a once-over before permanently moving them indoors. Generally, you’ll just want to keep an eye on your plants regularly and throughout the whole year.
Additional Reading: Houseplants: Simple Solutions to Plant Pests
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