Houseplant Bugs

Common Types Of Houseplant Bugs

If you have foliage in your home, there is a good chance that you will have an encounter with houseplant bugs at some point.  Many of these pests can do a considerable amount of damage to both the health and appearance of the plant if not notice and treated right away.  It is important when purchasing new plants, to quarantine them for a week or two in a separate area before introducing them to the rest of the plant in your home.

Greenhouse Whitefly

These household bugs are a popular pest to tomatoes, cucumbers, ivy and poinsettias.  They cause damage to their host be sucking out the plant's sap.  Plants that have a heavy infestation will often drop their leaves.  When the greenhouse whitefly is feeding on your plant, it excretes honeydew which detracts the plant's appearance.  The most common stage that they are noticed in is as winged adults.  These adults lay eggs on leaves that hatch within a week, producing nymph stage insects that feed on the undersides of the leaves.

Stick tape can be used on your plants to trap adults or you can gently use a vacuum cleaner attachment.  Neem insecticides, horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are helpful in controlling the nymphs.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are one of the most popular houseplant bugs and they are so hardy that they can survive even some of the most brutal winter temperatures by going dormant.  Infestations usually occur from keeping a plant outside before bringing it inside.  Once spider mites are established, they are able to crawl very short distances or they are easily blown from one plant to another by a breeze.

Spider mites feed on the sap of their host by infecting small wounds.  Infestations typically begin near the veins of the leaves or close to the stems.  If you are dealing with a high infestation of them, you may even notice webbing on the plant.  These types of household bugs traditionally infest dracaenas, ivy, hibiscus, figs and Norfolk island pine.

Controlling spider mites is difficult and a plant that is heavily infested should be thrown away.  Increase the humidity and wash the plant using a sprayer to clean away the eggs.  Repeat this process a couple of times per week until there is not trace of any life left.

Mealybugs

These are one of the most unattractive types of houseplant bugs.  These soft-bodied insects suck sap out of their host, weakening it and causing the leaves to drop.  They typically infest cactus, coleus, hoya, lantana, jade, gardenias, poinsettias and African violets.

 

Females produce an abundance of cottony material that they use to lay many eggs at a time.  When the eggs hatch, the newly emerged household bugs are called crawlers for the way that they spread out around the plant.

Swabbing the insects with alcohol is the best way to treat infested areas.  Pyrethroid insecticides are usually fairly effective as is introducing certain species of ladybugs to the plant.

Aphids

Aphids like to infest hibiscus, ornamental peppers, various types of herbs and chrysanthemums.  They excrete a fair amount of honeydew while feeding on the plant's sap.  Populations of these pests increases rapidly, producing several generations in only two weeks.

Washing the plant periodically is the best defense.  Some insecticidal soaps are beneficial however, some aphids will build up a tolerance to the chemicals over time.

Thrips

These tiny insects are so small that they can pass through most window screens.  It is easy to tell if your plant is infected with thrips by the obvious damage.  Silver areas appear on the leaves around their feeding site and they also leave behind dark excrement spots.

Unfortunately, thrips are known to be insecticide-resistant which makes them quite difficult to control.  When a problem is spotted, the best thing to do is remove the area of the plant and dispose of it.