Pests can be annoying, and the last thing you want is to see that your plant baby is being attacked by them! Pests are most often seen on outdoor plants, but they sneak their way into your houseplants from time to time. Here is how to identify and eliminate the most common indoor plant pests.
Common plant pests and how to squash them.
1. Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats are often the most noticed pest because they fly around your home. They are a nuisance because you can see them wondering around your plant and room! Thankfully they do very little harm to plants but are annoying nonetheless.
Symptoms: You will see small, black flies zipping in and out of your plant substrate or soil surface. The larvae look like small worms approximately 1mm in length, and wriggle around when the soil is wet.
Treatment: Pick off any dead plant matter from the top of the soil and ensure you dry out the soil. To keep the surface of the soil dryer, bottom water your plant as this will reduce the fungus gnat population.
You can use yellow sticky traps to catch the adult population of fungus gnats. This works well for reducing the amount of gnats flying around but doesn’t solve the problem.
Other popular gnat killing techniques include using a layer of ant sand on the surface of the plant, adding pebbles or bark to the soil’s surface, bug spray and pest killers.
Mealybugs are attracted to plant sap, sucking it from the plant as food. They look like furry, white woodlice and cluster on the plant leaf. If you leave your mealybugs, their damage will cause leaves to yellow and die.
Symptoms: Colonies of mealybugs tend to group on the undersides of leaves and in leaf joints. The infested plant will begin wilting and appearing dehydrated. Leaf loss might come on quick suddenly and honeydew residue will appear.
Treatment: Wipe them off with a wet rag, or spray the plant with water. Then follow by spraying small amounts of liquid soap/water solution onto the plant.
3. Aphids / Blackfly / Greenfly
Aphids also suck the sap from plants, however attacking soft plant growth, tips and flowers. They usually hide on the underside of plant leaves to keep out of sight. Like mealybugs, aphids clump together as a colony, making them easy to spot with the human eye.
Symptoms: An aphid infestation can be identified by a large mass of aphids, sticky honeydew residue and white/grey husks in the soil. The leaves of your plant will likely turn yellow and growth will become distorted.
Treatment: Create a warm soapy water mix with warm water and a small amount of liquid soap. Spray the plant with the solution, limiting the amount touching the soil. Wait five minutes and wash off the soap mixture. Repeat in a few weeks if necessary.
4. Red Spider Mites
Red Spider Mites are one of the most difficult pests to get rid off and are dreaded by most plant lovers. They are arachnids and therefore related to regular spiders. Spider mites spin webs on your plant but don’t feed on insects but instead on the liquids within the plant leaves. They use webs to protect their colony and create shortcuts to other parts of the plant.
Symptoms: The most obvious sign of an infestation is sticky webbing. Other symptoms include mottled leaves with small brown dots caused by the spider piercing the leaf with its mouth.
Treatment: You can treat mites with water and humid conditions. Pop your plant in the shower once a week to shower it and help wash off webbing and reduce spider mite numbers. Mist the plant daily to increase humidity.
Scale have hard outer brown shells that camouflage into the plant. This can make it hard to identify.
Symptoms: Sticky honeydew is a simple sign that you have a scale problem. It will turn black and create a soot like mould. They make an appearance on the underside of leaves as small round or oblong brown disks.
Treatment: You can use the aphid spray method to soften the scale discs. After approximately five minutes, wipe the leaf with a damp cloth. You can also try rubbing or picking them off to kill them or dab the individual scales with alcohol to dissolve them.
We hope you’ve learnt something and now know how to identify and eliminate your indoor plant pests.
If you’re having other plant problems, check out our list on the most common indoor plant problems.