Six houseplant pests which ‘badly wreck’ them in winter

Household pests: Six easy ways to de-bug your home

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Pests can appear on various different houseplants, and they can be hard to get rid of. When it comes to banishing the problem, expert have shared natural methods for houseplant owners to try and get rid of them. This is because some chemicals often used to target the problem can be toxic to human health and indoor plants can become immune to them over time.

Experts at Essential Living said: “Before you can effectively get rid of houseplant pests, you need to know which one you’re dealing with.

“There are six common houseplant bugs, and they all have unique looks and cause different types of damage.”

1. Mealybugs

The experts continued: “Mealybugs, often mistaken for fungus or mould on indoor plants, look like cotton of white powder on houseplants and tend to cluster on the stems and leaf joints, or along the veins on the leaves.

“Damage usually includes stunted or deformed new growth of your plant.”

2. Spider mites

Spider mites are another common plant pest that can be spotted by fine webbing on the plant. This usually begins on the underside of the leaves, or at the tips of new growth.

The experts said: “The damage causes normally deformed, dead and dried out leaves, or the leaves and flower buds start dropping.”

2. Whiteflies

Whiteflies, which are tiny white flies or moths on houseplants, usually lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.

This means the population of the pest can rapidly be increasing without Britons even realising. Essential Living experts added: “Damage from whiteflies will cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop the plant.”

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3. Fungus gnats

These pests are annoying little black gnats which fly around houseplants as well as crawl around in the soil.

The experts said they live and breed in potting soil, meaning they can be very difficult to control. They added: “Whilst they don’t cause a great deal of damage, they can be extremely annoying.”

4. Aphids

Aphids are more common in the outdoor garden, and can “badly wreck plants” if they get inside them. They are known as sap-sucking tree bugs and can range in size from one to seven millimetres in size.

According to the experts, they are visible outside in spring and summer but all year round on indoor plants.

They noted: “They easily go unnoticed until the houseplant is completed infested, as you will begin to see fat, small, juicy bugs clustering on new growth and flower buds ranging from different colours including green, brown, blue, orange, red or black.

“Aphids can cause sticky residue and stunted, deformed plant growth.”

5. Scales

Scales can be almost impossible to spot, and tend to look like brown, tan or grey bumps on the surface of the leaves.

According to the experts: “Scale insects don’t appear to move at all, but fortunately, they come off easily by scraping gently.”

The pests, like most other sap feeders, excrete a sugary honeydew that drops onto the leaves below the infestation, so it is important to check leaves thoroughly.

6. Thrips

Essential Living experts explained: “Thrips are the most common pest, however again they aren’t easy to notice.

“They look like small black bugs with skinny bodies and pointy tails and fortunately don’t have wings, therefore are unable to fly and pester.

“Eventually, damaged plants will turn brown, and leaves and flower buds could begin dropping.”

How to remove pests

While having a pest infestation may seem daunting, there are various different methods to try and banish the problem without harming the plant.

Firstly, it is best to isolate the infested plant to prevent it from spreading to any other houseplant. It was also advised to keep an eye on neighbouring plants for three to four weeks to see if they show signs of an infestation.

The experts added: “Now wash the infested plant with insecticidal soap, or you can use a mild liquid soap, as soap can kill houseplant bugs on contact.

“Some contain degreasers and detergents that harm sensitive plants, therefore be careful with the type you choose. Try dabbing the soap lightly on your plant before washing fully to double check it won’t cause any harm.”

Alcohol can also be used to kill any remaining live bugs, but long-term control includes trapping or vacuuming flying bugs to get them under control. 

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