Houseplant Pest Problem? Say Bye to the Bugs

Posted by Mosquito Squad
Houseplant Pest Problem? Say Bye to the Bugs

March 20, 2024

Being a “plant parent” can be a delight, but it becomes stressful when bugs are involved! Pests love to turn tranquil houseplants into their own indoor oasis. You can save your indoor garden by understanding the types of bugs that commonly infest houseplants and how to prevent and manage them.

Common Bugs on Houseplants

The pests commonly found on indoor plants include aphids, spider mites, and fungus gnats. These small bugs blend in with the foliage and potting materials, so they may go unnoticed until their population has grown out of control. Get to know these common houseplant pests and more.

Aphids – This tiny insect comes in various colors, including green, yellow, and black. Aphids on plants feed on sap, causing leaves to curl and distort. Aphids also excrete honeydew, which can attract ants and promote the growth of sooty mold.

  • Spider mites – These microscopic arachnids can be challenging to spot until they've caused significant damage. They are typically pale green, orange, or red and create fine webs. Spider mites feed on plant fluids, leaving stippled, discolored leaves and fine webbing.
  • Mealybugs – Mealybugs are small, soft, cottony scale insects that cluster on the undersides of leaves and stems. They are typically white or light gray and oval-shaped. They feed on plant juices and excrete honeydew, which can lead to mold growth.
  • Whiteflies – These white insects resemble small moths. They feed on plant sap and can quickly infest a plant, causing leaves to yellow and wilt.
  • Fungus gnats – These small, flying insects are attracted to moist soil and underlying fungus. They look like fruit-fly gnats but slightly longer. Their larvae feed on plant roots, while the adults can be a nuisance as they hover around plants.
  • Armored scale insects – There are several types of scale insects. Some are soft (like mealybugs, explained above). Others have hard armor and look like oval-shaped barnacles on stems and leaves. They range in color from white to green to brown. A soft-bodied insect emerges from the scale during certain life stages. Scale bugs on plants eat sap and excrete honeydew, leading to oily-looking leaves and sooty mold growth.

Have you spotted any of these perpetrators on your precious plants? There are ways you can reverse a growing infestation and keep bugs away from your plants.

How to Kill Bugs on Houseplants

There are several methods you can use to kill bugs on houseplants, from removing the infested section to utilizing organic pest control. In most cases, you can eliminate the bugs without harming your entire plant. Here are some tips to remove pests from your plants:

  • Natural remedies – Use natural remedies like neem oil, diluted mild dish soap, or diluted apple cider vinegar to treat affected plants. Neem oil can be sprayed on leaves or diluted and added to the soil. The other diluted mixtures can be used to wipe down leaves and stems.
  • Pruning and cleaning – Prune and remove affected plant parts to eliminate the bugs’ hiding spots. Wipe the remaining foliage with a damp cloth to remove pests and honeydew residue. A simple tool like a toothpick or wet cotton swab can be helpful for scraping off stubborn scale bugs.
  • Organic pest control – Explore organic pest control methods like introducing nematodes to the soil or using diatomaceous earth, a natural powdered soft rock that eliminates many types of crawling insects.
  • Repotting – If common remedies don’t seem to be making a dent in your pest problem, it’s likely that the pests are harboring (and/or laying eggs) in the soil. Repot your plants, taking care to shake out or rinse off the roots during the process. Use fresh potting soil that’s been stored in a sealed container.

Some pests attack specific parts of your plant and are very hard to get rid of, especially spider mites and fungus gnats. Spider mites lay eggs and feast on leaves, and fungus gnats lay eggs and feast on roots. Try these tricks to manage those bugs:

How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats

Because fungus gnats damage the roots of a plant and infest the top inch of soil, you can get rid of the pest by removing the soil, washing the pot, and repotting. Neem oil can also be used on the leaves and soil to prevent further infestation without damaging your plant.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites

To remove spider mites on leaves without damaging your houseplants, wash the plant with heavily diluted mild dish soap and a soft cloth. You can then regularly spray your plant with water to wash away spider mite eggs and prevent them from coming back.

Related Blog: The Best Plants to Keep Mosquitoes Away

How to Keep Bugs Away from Houseplants

One of the best ways to keep bugs away from houseplants is to inspect your plants after purchase and after repotting in new soil. Additionally, reduce humidity in the surrounding area and avoid overwatering, as this may attract bugs. These detailed tips should help:

  • Regular inspection – The signs of bug infestations are mold growth, wilting leaves, damaged leaves, residue, or visible bugs. Early detection is crucial for effective control.
  • Plant isolation – Keep newly acquired plants away from your other houseplants for a few weeks before placing them closer together. This quarantine period helps prevent the spread of bugs that may be on the new plant or in its soil.
  • Proper watering – Overwatering can create a welcoming environment for bugs. Water your plants as needed but allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Regular cleaning – Beyond wiping down your actual plants, consider house cleaning to be an extension of plant care. By managing mildew and dust buildup, you can reduce both mold growth and the number of bugs making their way indoors. If you need an extra hand, we suggest calling the professionals at The Cleaning Authority for house cleaning services.
  • Good air circulation – Ensure adequate air circulation near your plants by using a fan and opening the windows when you can. This can reduce humidity and discourage bugs from settling on your plants.

Control Pests Outside to Reduce Their “Break-Ins”

Pests are more likely to make their way onto houseplants if they are abundant outside your home. To prevent their intrusions, we recommend getting a professional outdoor barrier treatment spray service from Mosquito Squad. Our specialized formula kills pests on contact and deters them for up to 21 days! Contact the Squad today at (877) 332-2239 or request a free quote online.