Houseplants can help keep your home bright and festive during the gloomy winter months! While including them in your home is a great way to add color, they can lead to potential pest problems if not cared for properly. Here are a few common insects that can damage indoor plants.
Aphids are small, oval-shaped insects that are usually green, but can be black, brown, orange or yellow. They are typically found in clusters on the underside of leaves or on flower buds and new tip growth. Aphids feed on plant sap which results in yellow, misshaped leaves. If the infestation is minor, spraying the plant with water can dislodge aphids. Insecticidal soap will also do the trick.
Mites are actually more closely related to spiders than insects. Sometimes, you can even see the white webbing they produce wrapped around stems and leaves. Since mites are so small, plant damage is typically the first sign of their presence. Look for mottled leaves or small strings of silky web hanging off your plants. Spraying both the top and bottom of the plant leaves with water should be enough to dislodge mites and break up their webs.
Scales leave sticky spots that appear as brown or white bumps near the surface and underside of leaves and stems. They feed on plant sap and leave behind a sticky secretion called “honeydew” that can lead to mold growth. An early infestation of scales can be rubbed off by scrapping the plant by hand. If the problem persists, spray the plant with insecticidal soap.
Whiteflies resemble tiny moths with a powdery white appearance. Infested plant leaves turn yellow and exhibit stunted growth. If an infested plant is disturbed, whiteflies will flutter around and create a white cloud before settling again. To rid your plant of whiteflies, spray with water or insecticidal soap.
Being able to spot houseplant pests will give you a leg up on indoor insect problems. Knowing how to treat your plants correctly will also prevent future pest outbreaks. If an infestation spreads to your tabletops, carpets or walls, seek help from a pest professional.
You can find additional information on houseplant pests and how to treat them from The Office of Engagement at Colorado State University.