How Do I Get Rid of Houseplant Pests?

How to Get Rid of Bugs on Houseplants

When a houseplant is in good shape, it is important to keep them healthy and happy. Even though the garden is being treated well it may still contain pests. Occasionally. A few bugs are harmless and will not be harmful to your plants. Please do not panic too much. Pest control methods are often a simple matter with just patience.

It is also worth noting that houseplants, like any plant are prone to attract all types of critters. If for some reason, you do see a creepy crawly or fly, this is normal. We should only take measures into our own hands if you notice an infestation in or around your houseplant that can cause the houseplant to wilt and die. This article will outline all sorts of pests that your houseplant may attract and how to safely resolve the infestation.

Eco-Friendly vs Chemical Control

We will always opt towards eco-friendly measures when it comes to pest eradication. This is because we have love towards our indoor plants and nature. Neem oil which we will be discussing later on in this article, is a natural and effective method but I’d recommend it as a prevention tool against pest eradication as Neem oil is not effective against all critters. The truth behind eco-friendly and chemical control is whilst we prefer to use eco-friendly, chemical control options occasionally must be considered where appropriate.

Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests

Mealybugs

Mealybugs can often be misconceived as they are similar to scales in the fact that they have a waxy coating and make honeydew. Their presence leaves waxy deposits on the houseplant and sometimes yellowing and wilted leaves which results in distorted or stunted plant growth. To spot these pests, Mealybugs group on the undersides of leaves and joints. The houseplant will begin looking dehydrated and the leaves will droop and die rapidly. The female Mealybugs lay their eggs on cotton like material, Hoya, Jade, Gardenia and Poinsettias houseplants tend to be more susceptible to these critters but, that does not mean different houseplants cannot get these pests.

How to Control Mealybugs

A natural way of eradicating Mealybugs spraying them with water or gently shaking the plant either outside or in a bathtub. Another method is using Neem oil partnered with some insecticidal soap. If the infestation of Mealybugs is bigger, chemical control may be necessary. Use a cotton swap or cloth dipped in 70% isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the leaves and undersides to eradicate.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are tiny, winged pests with a super-white appearance. Whiteflies like other pests suck sap from the houseplant leaves causing the leaves to turn yellow, droop, and die. The immature whiteflies that do not move much can be misconceived as scales however, the mature whiteflies fly around when disturbed. You can find these pests on the underside of the leaves.

How to Control Whiteflies? 

Thankfully, naturally remedies do work well against whiteflies. Using Neem oil in combination of a good insecticidal soap will eradicate a whitefly infestation. Ensure a thorough application particularly on the underside of the houseplants’ leaves as this is where the immature whiteflies will reside, helping you break the whitefly cycle. I suggest to use the Neem oil and insecticidal soap once a week until there are no symptoms of an infestation.

Spider Mites 

Ah Spider Mites… they may be one of the more annoying pests as they can damage your amazing houseplant if you do not take immediate action whenever you see first signs of an infestation. These little critters are so tiny that you will not even be able to see them but, they will leave signs and residue that will help you identify. They suck the sap from your houseplants leaves which cause them to discolour. This means you may see some of your leaves discolouring and unfortunately, even if you eradicate the Spider Mites, they may not get their original colour back. They usually reside on the underside of the leaves, but you will notice their silky white webs on the axils and veins of the leaves.

How to Control Spider Mites

These infestations can be difficult to control, especially if you do not catch them in the early stages. Regularly check your houseplants including the undersides as it can make a big difference. I’ve found the best natural way of removing these pests is creating an environment that they do not like, a humid one. Regularly mist your leaves and/or use a humidifier. The most effective way is dampening a cloth with 70% isopropyl alcohol, and wipe both sides of the leaves. If the infestation is really bad, I suggest repotting the houseplant also.

Fungus Gnats 

One of the more annoying pest infestations to have, Fungus Gnats are small flies which quickly multiply, forming a colony that fly around the base of your houseplants. Extremely frustrating! This is the most common pest within our homes so it is inevitable we will encounter these pests at some point. Fortunately, Fungus Gnats cause more of a nuisance than any harm to our houseplants. Nevertheless, there are many ways to eradicate this pest issue and we have a full in-depth guide here.

How to Control Fungus Gnats

The best way to control and eradicate a fungus gnat infestation is allowing the soil to dry in between waterings, repotting the soil and ensure that you use an insecticidal soap to control the larvae, and lastly, use sticky traps which will attract and trap many of the fungus gnats, causing a disruption in the reproduction cycle.

Aphids

Another sap sucking pest that can cause your houseplant real harm if you don’t catch them in the early stages of an infestation. Like Mealybugs, Aphids produce sticky honeydew. These annoying pests can attack an array of houseplants especially those tender, new growth houseplants where Aphids create most damage. They are typically green but can be black or grey, hidden from obvious light and under leaves, a tricky pest really to identify, but they can be seen by the naked eye. Aphids tend to live around 2 or 3 weeks long and reproduce rapidly. You can understand why we recommend catching Aphids before they become a real problem!

How to Control Aphids?

The good news is Aphids are really easy to control, and in a lot of cases, Aphids will not require anything more than soapy water with a hard spray down. Take your plant outside or place it in a bathtub and give your houseplant a good spray down. Insecticidal soaps and Neem oil is also effective, but I would use these tools after as a preventative.

Conclusively, if you are looking to eradicate pests or prevent them, it will all start with a habit of inspecting your houseplants when you water them. If you do identify possible infestations, you should quarantine the houseplant away from others as soon as possible to avoid spreading the infestation. They key to success is always be persistent and catch them early.


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