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5 Common Houseplant Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

5 Common Houseplant Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

5 Common Houseplant Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

Posted January 10, 2020

Maybe you’ve faced a few of the pests and infestations common to houseplants and wondered how to protect your houseplants from the problems that threaten them.

As anyone who keeps plants knows, it can be a challenge to help your houseplants stay well and prevent pest problems. There’s no better way to appreciate your houseplants than by taking care of them and keeping away a plant pest infestation!

How these pests get on your plant without attracting attention remains a mystery. But here are the five most common houseplant pests and some solutions you can use against them.

1. Common Brown Scale

This is just one of many kinds of scale that can cause damage to your plants.

They look like little knobs or dots on plant stems or the underside of leaves and are often mistaken for knots on tiny twigs. You can almost think of them as camouflaged slugs.

Brown scale are one of the only bugs in the world that hatches inside the mother’s body. Females retain the eggs inside their bodies until the eggs hatch and the newborns emerge.

After scale are born, they slowly migrate to a place on the plant where they can suck on the juices. They remain immobile when they reach adulthood.

Along with the solutions listed at the bottom, you can also use a Q-tip or comb to detach the scale from the leaf or branch and scrape them away.

2. Aphids

Aphids are green and have six legs. They’re pretty hard to see without a strong magnifying glass or microscope.

Interesting fact: Since aphids produce sugary nectar from the plant juices they eat, some kinds of ants have learned to farm the nectar from the aphids. The ants protect the aphids from predators, and the aphids feed the ants with nectar. The ants stroke their antennae on the aphids to tickle the nectar out of them.

The nectar aphids make can attract mold, so protecting your plants from aphids is imperative to your plants’ health.

Natural predators include ladybugs and green lacewing, both of which are highly beneficial insects.

3. Mealybugs

Mealybugs are a close relative of scale insects, but they’re much more difficult to remove because they can migrate from one plant to another.

They look like a white cottony fluff on the plant. This comes from a waxy substance they secrete on the outside of their bodies, which offers some protection against predators.

Because females produce up to 600 eggs or more at one time, mealybugs also breed extremely fast.

Including the other pest control solutions at the bottom, you can also introduce mealybugs’ natural predators, which include ladybugs and mealybug destroyers, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri.

4. Common Whiteflies

With their powdery white wings, these tiny insects are mistaken for little moths that generally eat the underside of leaves. In fact, they are more closely related to aphids and scale and are another sucking insect. And they aren’t picky when it comes to the kinds of plants they like to eat.

While sucking on a plant’s natural juices, these pests produce sugary nectar that can develop a sooty mold on your plants, which can quickly turn to a major problem.

Whiteflies reproduce quickly because it only takes them 3-5 weeks to grow from egg to adult.

Natural predators include green lacewings, ladybugs, and whitefly parasites Encarsia formosa.

5. Red Spider Mites

These tiny red arachnids are usually about 1 mm long and can cause havoc to plants. You might see a red film on stems or leaves, and affected plants often have brown scarring from red spider mites.

These guys can migrate from one plant to another, which makes it difficult to get rid of them.

Their natural predators include green lacewings and ladybugs.

Steps to Prevent Houseplant Pests from Ruining your Plants

  1. Spray the plant with insecticidal soap, or mix water and a small amount of dish detergent and spray the plant with soapy water.
  2. Comb off scale and other pests you find using toothpicks, an old toothbrush, or your fingernails.
  3. Spot treat with Q-tips or cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol, especially to treat mealybugs
  4. Hose down the plant in the bathtub or outside. Be sure to remove all the soap and ensure the plant has full nutrition in its soil.
  5. Apply the pest’s natural predators such as ladybugs and green lacewings, whitefly parasites, and mealybug destroyers.
  6. Alternatively, apply diatomaceous earth on the leaves, or you can also apply neem oil, a natural pesticide developed from the neem tree.

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