Common Houseplant Bugs
- Mite pests, aphids and fungus gnats are three of the most common insects that affect indoor plants. According to the Colorado State University Extension, plants that are under stress or that are not growing vigorously are especially susceptible to mite injuries. Newly purchased or plants received as gifts are more susceptible to mealybug and whitefly infestations.
- There are several natural remedies to control pests on indoor houseplants. For large insects such as mealybugs and scale insects, try handpicking them. They are easy to identify on large houseplants. Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects that infest multiple parts of a plant, although they are mostly found on the foliage. A diluted spray of regular rubbing alcohol and water is also a proven remedy to control mealybugs. While in their early developmental stages, an alcohol spray is also effective against scales. Ordinary liquid soap diluted with water can be an effective tool at warding off houseplant pests. Because these products are not designed for use on plants, Colorado State Extension, using soap or dish detergent requires some experimentation in brand and quantity to determine what effectively solves your insect problem.
- When using alcohol as an insecticide, spray or dab onto the insects. Test the area first, because alcohol can cause leaf burn on some plants. When applying a homemade soap spray, it's important to thoroughly wet the pest.
- Using homemade soaps as an insecticide may also have its drawbacks. As with alcohol, Colorado State Extension cautions to test the mixture on a small area before extensively treating a plant. It also cautions on the frequency of using soap mixtures as leaf damage may occur with repeated exposure.