Indoor Plants

What Are Some of the Most Common Houseplant Pests?

What Are Some of the Most Common Houseplant Pests?

Whether you are an indoor plant addict like me or a new plant parent, it's always sad to see your plants sick. It can be hard to know what's making them sick. However unlike other problems, pest problems on your plants are easier to spot. 

Pests aren't only bad for your plant's health, but for your health, as well. They can also be pretty annoying to get rid of if you don't know how to do it. The good thing is that most household plant pests show clear signs that they're present.

In this article, we're going to go over some of these common houseplant pests, the signs that they leave, and a few methods of getting rid of them and caring for your plants.

1. Aphids

Aphids sit on your houseplants and eat the sap. They also rob them of valuable nutrients needed to thrive. The condition of the plants will get worse as they continue to cluster.

The good news is that they are easy to spot so you can stop them quickly.

How to Spot Them

If you touch the plant leaves and the leaves feel sticky then that's one sign of aphids. That's because they leave a honey-like secretion. You can see clusters of them underneath the leaves, too. The aphids the same colour as the leaves, but you'll know bugs when you see them.

2. Spider Mites

It might be hard to spot spider mites until it's too late and regular insecticides won't work on them because they aren't really insects. Plants that are infected will lose their lush green colour and turn dull and grey brown.

How to Spot Them

If you see webbing under the leaves and branches, that means it has already turned into a serious problem. You have to catch them before they reach that point to ensure survival of your plant.

If your plants start to look a bit dead or a bit of webbing in and around the plant, whip out the magnifying glass and look at the leaves. Spider mites are extremely tiny but you'll be able to notice them if you use this helpful tool. While they are hard to spot, you can spot them with naked eyes if you have good eye sights and look closely. They are redish brown in colour. Always check under the leaves as they love hiding there.

3. Mealybugs

Mealybugs are very determined little bugs. They tend to come back time and time again and it's hard to knock them off with water and other sprays. You have to get a little creative.

You can knock them loose them with a cotton swab doused in alcohol and then spray them with water to knock them off. If you use a nice coating of neem oil after the fact, that will keep them away for good.

How to Spot Them

Mealybugs, though tenacious, are pretty easy to spot. They're white in colour and tend to cluster together so they look like fluffy cotton balls. They also leave a wax-like substance on the surface of the plant.

4. White Fly

You have to tackle whiteflies while they're babies. If you wait for them to mature past the larvae state they will just fly away when you spray and come back.

They stick to the underside of plants and suck out the juices. If not dealt with, they will kill the host plant.

How to Spot Them

This is another pesky critter to spot. They're so small that they look like dandruff flakes sprinkled on the plant. You won't notice that it's a pest unless you get up close and personal with a magnifying glass.

Upon maturity, the white fly looks like a small white moth. You can find their eggs on the underside of leaves, which look like small crescents. You'll want to spray them in insecticides when they still look like this.

5. Scale Insects

It's easy to confuse these with whiteflies because they're a lot alike. It's hard to detect them so they'll probably add up to a large colony before you notice it. Like the whiteflies, they suck the juices out of your plant, killing it rather quickly.

They're not as annoying to get rid of as whiteflies, though. They're usually immobile so you can get rid of them with a Q-tip soaked in alcohol.

How to Spot Them

Again, they're immobile and stick to the leaf of the plant to soak out juices. They usually take the form of a shell or a pearl.

If you don't notice them by the look, you can tell something is wrong by the waxy secretion they leave while on the plant.

6. Thrips

You might not notice thrips right away. They're dark and pretty hard to see. They're also notoriously difficult to get rid of because when you spray them they'll just fly away and come back later or fly to an adjacent plant.

Thrips burry into the leaves of the plant and suck out its nutrients. If you notice one of your plants is infested with thrips you'll want to isolate it from the ones that aren't.

How to Spot Them

You will notice decolouration and deformities on your plants before you notice the bugs themselves. They're tiny black bugs so that makes them pretty hard to see.

Their eggs are just as hard to see. Typically thrips will cut a small place in the plant and lay eggs. It's usually one per slit.

7. Slugs and Snails

Snails and slugs are a pretty easy pest to deal with but the damage they cause is about as large as they are. What's really scary about them is all the damage they do, they do it in a very small amount of time.

The good news is, you may only have to deal with these if you put your plant outside during warm months.

How to Spot Them

You'll be able to spot them not only by the large chunks they put in leaves but also the slimy trail they leave behind.

It's because of the slimy trail and leaf chunks that you'll know they're present right away. Again, the chances they'll get in your house and eat your plants are pretty slim.

8. Sciurid Flies and Fungus Gnats

Sciurid flies and fungus gnats will annoy you more than they will your plant. They will typically buzz around your head just like a common housefly would. They usually set up their colonies around your houseplants.

They won't really harm your plant, they just set up their home there and annoy you. It's for that reason that you'll still want to get rid of them.

How to Spot Them

The larva is a little hard to spot. They exist right under the surface of the soil. As for the flies themselves, they will walk over the surface of the soil, and on the plant.

They look like standard black flies and are about 2mm long. You probably won't notice them until they've hit this stage, but they're not too hard to get rid of.

9. Preventive Measures for Pests

There are a few measures for keeping houseplant pests at bay other than isolating plants you feel are infected from healthy ones, and just watching what plants you bring into your home. There is also introducing the insect to its natural predators like aphids and ladybugs.

Other methods are found here.

Insecticides

You can buy insecticides in the store, and you can also fashion your own out of natural sources like garlic, pepper spray, herb water spray, even beer actually. Snails drink it instead of going for your plants.

Methods like soapy water can actually dehydrate the bugs, and you can make a spray called pyrethrum out of dried chrysanthemums that will paralyse them on contact.

These insecticides can get rid of many pests such as aphids, snails, and several different species of mites.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is a good preventive measure for after you've worked hard to get rid of the houseplant pests. Add a generous amount after you've treated pets to keep them from coming back again.

This will work for aphids, mites, scale, and anything else that is soft-bodied. It's also completely natural and made from the seeds of Indian neem trees.

How to Protect your Babies from Household Plant Pests

Household plant pests can spread diseases to your plant children and cause them to shrivel, turn brown, and die. If you want to protect them you'll have to identify the problem before it's too late and find a preventive measure that works.

If you can't afford to buy insecticides in a store you can fashion your own out of regular household items like garlic and beer. Keep your indoor garden flourishing year-round.

Getting ready to start your indoor garden? It can be a little nerve-wracking if you've never done it. Visit our blog to see the best plants for beginners.