Common Insects Found On Houseplants
If you are a houseplant parent, it’s inevitable that you will have to deal with insects at some point. It’s important to keep on eye on your houseplants and check the tops and bottoms of leaves when you can to make sure you don’t have an infestation of the common insects found on houseplants and catch them before they get out of control.
Signs of infestation: Plant leaves have fuzzy white spots. Look in the nooks and crannies of leaves and stems as these are their favorite spots. You can see these insects easily.
Step 1: Try to wash the Mealybugs off with a steady stream of water. When they have developed their hard outer shell, this may be difficult. Dip cotton balls in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. Use cotton balls to clean the leaves and cotton swabs to clean inside small gaps.
Step 2: Repeat the treatment as necessary. This is best for light infestations. Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 quart (32oz) of water. Pour the solution in the spray bottle or straight rubbing alcohol for thicker, hardier leaves.
Step 3: Spray the whole plant, not only where mealybugs are visible. Spray leaves well on their tops, under leaves and stems. Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone.
Alternative sprays for heavy infestation that may work better: Insecticidal Soap Spray, Neem oil or pyrethrins are other sprays that can be used if alcohol wipe isn’t working and often times a quicker way to kill pests.
Signs of infestation: Plant leaf gets a “dusty” look in an area. They can be yellow or red in color. Often found on the underside of leaves. Spider mites are seen more often in the winter inside because they prefer dry and warm environments. Raised humidity, keeping away from heat source or locating plants in higher humidity areas helps in prevention but not guaranteed.
Step 1: First dislodge mites with a steady stream of water outside or in the shower. Dip cotton balls and swabs in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. Use balls to clean the leaves and swabs to clean inside the gaps.
Step 2: Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 quart (32oz) of water. Pour the solution in the spray bottle.
Step 3: Spray the leaves wipe off or use a houseplant insecticidal spray. Some people use Neem Oil that can help but an insecticidal spray works the best and will take less time to get rid of them.
Step 4: Treat any plants that are nearby as well since they spread easily or at least rinse off their leaves and spray with alcohol. *For any spray you can test a leaf to make sure it doesn’t damage the leaf and avoid spraying the leaf during the sunniest part of day or if the plant gets direct light.
Step 5: Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone.
Signs of infestation: Tiny small black bugs are flying around the soil of your plants. They do not feed on your plants but take advantage of moist soil to lay their eggs within the first couple inches of soil.
Step 1: Change your method of watering. Water your plants by setting them in water and they will take up water from below. Leave the top 2 inches of soil dry. Alternatively, only watering your plants once the soil is dry a couple inches down and try to prolong between watering until reduced signs of adult gnats are seen.
Step 2: Use BT- bacillus thuringiensis powder. It’s a natural bacteria that produces proteins that kill insects. Sprinkle BT on the top of soil of your plants. It is safe to use around humans and mammals but avoid ingestion of any product.
Step 3: Control flying adult population with sticky traps placed around your plants.
If you see signs of any other insects on your leaves, most insects can be controlled with above methods of wiping leaves off, use insecticidal spray and systemic insecticide.
Please note: If you are worried about any spray treatments damaging a specific plant since some may be more sensitive than others, test the spray on one leaf first and look for signs of damage. Never spray in direct sunlight as that can result in sun scald marks due to the moisture on the leaves
If you have any questions about identifying an insect, please email us a picture of your plant if there are signs of insect damage to firstname.lastname@example.org.