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Common Houseplant Pests

Written by Jessica on July 5th, 2011

People keep houseplants for a number of reasons. Some do so because they do not have room for a garden, and others just love having indoor plants. Whatever the reason, houseplants need are. Sometimes pests will infest and damage plants, but is owners can identify pests early further harm to the plant can be averted.

Spider Mites
Spider mites are very small pests that cannot always be seen with the naked eye. The best way to identify spider mites is by a silky webbing they weave on the underside of leaves and at branch junctions. Spider mites injure plants when they feed on the sap of the plant’s foliage. Damage can appear as yellow spots on leaves, stunting of the plant, and sudden leaf drop. Spider mites can be controlled by some insecticides. Washing with warm soapy water can also help.

Fungus Gnats
Although adult fungus gnats do not damage plants they can be annoying and their larvae will eat the roots or root hairs of plants. Adult fungus gnats can grow to one-eighth of an inch in size, and are often see flying around foliage or crawling on the soil. They are most noticeable after the plant has been watered. Larvae have small white bodies and black, shiny heads. Feeding of the larvae can cause stunted plant growth. To control adults a foliage insecticide spay can be used, and the soil should be treated to control larvae.

Scale Insects
Scale insects can come with either hard or soft bodies, and can grow up to one-third of an inch in size. Once young scale insects, crawler, find a feeding site on the plant they will secrete a protective covering. They will not move from this spot. Damage is done as the insects suck sap from the plant. This can cause reduced plant growth and leaf drop. Washing the plant with warm soapy water can reduce the population of scales. Spray insecticides can also be helpful if used while insects are at the crawler stage.

Often called plant lice, aphids grow only to one-eighth of an inch in size. Most are green, but they can also be black, red, or brown in color. Some adult females can have wings. Aphids colonize on the underside of tender parts of plants, like leaves and flower buds. Damage is done as they feed on the plant sap. This can cause distorted leaves and flowers, and reduced growth. Aphids also excrete honeydew which will cause sooty mold. Plants can be dipped or sprayed with insecticides to control these pests. Washing with warm soapy water can also help.


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