Chances are, if you have houseplants,
sometime you will encounter insect pests. There are
several different kind of pests which feed off of houseplants.
If you notice a plant that suddenly begins to deteriorate
and look sick, take a closer look, perhaps you will
find the insect responsible. Insect damage can be very
severe, and can even result in the death of the affected
plant. For this reason, it is important to identify
and treat pests as quickly as possible. Below are descriptions
of the most common houseplant pests.
| Scale Insects
|| Scale looks like tiny,
brown, oval-shaped bumps visible on the plant leaves
and stem. The scale is actually a protective covering
which protects the insect. Scales produce honeydew,
a clear sticky substance which can be seen on affected
|| Mealybugs can be found
on stems, leaves, and flowers. The bugs themselves
are visible to the naked eye as small light tan
softbodied insects. These insects also produce white
material that resembles pieces of cotton balls,
making them very easy to spot.
|| Spidermites are small
insects, which appear as small white specks, usually
on the undersides of leaves, or on flowers. Spider
mites will form webbing, like a spider's web around
infected plants. The spider mites will be visible
in the webbing as white specks.
| White Flies
Flies are small, white, flying insects which can
usually be seen on the undersides of leaves where
they lay their eggs.
|| Aphids appear as small
green or black insects, usually found on buds and
new growth. These insects suck the juices out of
plants, and also secrete honeydew.
|| Thrips are very small
brown insects with elongated bodies. Adults are
able to fly. Thrips are usually found on flowers
If you do find pests on your houseplants,
it is important to treat them as fast and as aggressively
as possible. Below are some steps to take when dealing
with pest-infected houseplants:
Treatment for infected plants:
- First the most important thing to do
is remove the infected plant, and move it to a place
where it will be quarantined from all other houseplants.
This is to prevent the spread of insects to other
- 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (Commonly sold
as “Rubbing Alcohol”) will kill insects
on contact. To kill insects, wet a cotton ball or
Q-tip in alcohol, and then wipe away insects. Alcohol
can also be sprayed on plants via a spray bottle.
- Insecticides are another way to get
rid of insects. Consult your local garden center for
insecticides, and look for an insecticide formulated
for use against the particular insect in question,
and that is safe to use on your particular houseplant.
Some insecticides come in spray forms and kill insects
on contact, others can be mixed in water and taken
up through the plant’s roots. Regardless of
what type of insecticide you use, be sure to follow
all safety instructions.
- The above treatment methods may have
to be repeated several times before the insects will
finally be gone.
- If certain parts of your plant
are severely infested, they may need to be cut off
and discarded. In extreme cases, the entire plant
may need to be thrown out.
Written by Adrienne Kleintop