PestBusters: Pest ID & Control

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Every house plant owner's worst nightmare, your heart falls to your stomach that moment you spot it. Pesky little pest the suck all the life out of our precious babies leaving them faded, dried and oh so sad. But wait, before you plan that next plant funeral, you may be able to save their life.


P.s I'm sorry no pics were added to this post, I've never really stopped to take pictures of any infested plants. I've always been the type to throw them out the window at first sign of pest... LOL

So you have pest what now?

To properly treat your pest problem, you need to figure out what kind of pest you’re dealing with.

Here is a list of the most common houseplant pest:

  • Fungus Gnats

  • Aphids

  • Mealybugs

  • Spider mites

  • Thrips

  • Scale bug

  • Leaf miner

  • Springtails



Fungus Gnats

Probably the most annoying pest out there, always right in your face. It can be totally embarrassing when having a guest over. They look like tiny little black flies, similar to a fruit fly. They enjoy soil on the moister side so usually, my tropical plants suffer.


Treatment:

  • Set up sticky traps to catch the adults.

  • Water your plant with 25% Hydrogen Peroxide, and a few drops of neem oil to kill any larvae in the soil.

  • Set apple cider traps.



Aphids

Aphids are super small almost invisible yellow dots, sucking all the life (sap) from the leaves and stems often leaving sticky trails behind them. They will reproduce very quickly and accumulate in numbers, eating through your plant leaving leaves yellow and faded with holes.


Treatment:

  • Squish what you can with your finger or wipe away with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.

  • Give the leaves and stems a good spray with soap & warm water. Make sure you get underneath the leaves as well. There should be enough soap that the water should bubble up.

  • Kill any larvae in the soil with a nice warm soapy bubble bath. Duck her in up to the stems until the air bubble stop.


Mealybugs

These ones are a little easier to spot. They often look like fussy little, tiny balls of cotton that clunk together. They will feed on the sap leaving the leaves yellow, shrivel and fall.


Treatment:

  • Wipe away visible bugs with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol. Thoroughly wipe down every leaf and stem.

  • In a spray bottle mix 25% alcohol, water and a couple of drops of dish soap. Give the whole plant a good spray, underneath the leaves and stem.


Spider Mites

Thinking about these makes my skin crawl. Tiny little spiders that appear like yellow dots; very hard to see but you will be able to tell by the webbing under the leaf and around the stems.


Treatment:

  • Wipe away visible pest with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol or give the infected plant a lukewarm soapy bubble bath for a couple of minutes.

  • In a spray bottle mix warm water, a couple of drops of dish soap and a few drops of neem oil. Give a good soak all over.

  • In extreme cases, insecticidal soap can be used.


Thrips

These ones are extremely hard to get rid of and spread super fast. They look like tiny little black wiggle lines, like a worm, but they have wings… I know, gross. If you think you have thrips immediately put the plant in quarantine and check the surrounding plants; if the infestation is too bad consider throwing it out. Not quite ready to let go? Then try out the following methods:


Treatment:

  • Set up sticky traps to catch the flying adults.

  • Kill and wipe off any visible pest by squishing with your finger or dabbling a cotton ball in alcohol then giving you plant a good wipe.

  • Mix neem oil in a spray bottle with dish soap and warm water. Spray all over the plant getting under every leaf and every stem.

  • In extreme cases, use insecticidal soap.

  • Repeat.


Scale Bug

Scale bugs can look like your plant has little scabs, usually found under the leaf or on the stem. Round and brown or tan, with a hard protective shell.


Treatment:

  • Kill all visible pests by spot cleaning with neem oil and alcohol, wipe away with a cotton swab.

  • In extreme infestation, prune, and discard infected leaves and stems. Treat the rest to stop the spread.

Springtails

You can find these guys in the soil. Often mistaken for fleas because of their similar appearance, brown long oval shape and they do the jump. If you are one to over water you might want to double-check as they do like it on the soggier side, feeding off the rooting roots and fungus- can also be caused by too much peat in the potting mix so watch for that as well.


Treatment:

  • Let the soil dry out. They are not the worst to get rid of.

  • If they keep coming back sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the top of the soil.

Note: I personally have never used the product Diatomaceous earth but have heard some super great feedback, can be used for all pest.

Leaf Miners

Although not as common or deadly as some of the other pests on this list, these guys will burrow into the leaves and suck the beauty out of our beloved plants leaving ugly yellow/white lines or “tunnels” on the leaves.


Treatment:

  • Squeeze the leaves to kill any larvae and live bugs within the leaves.

  • In a spray bottle, about 500ml mix 1 teaspoon of cooking oil, a few drops of water and warm water. Give the plant leaves a good spray all over.

  • Set up sticky traps to catch jumping adults.

  • Pesticide or insecticidal soap can also be used.\


In my opinion, the most you can do is always check on your plants! Check thoroughly at the store and before introducing it to the rest of the family. Check on your plants often after settling in; the leaves stems and soil to catch any pest in the early stages making treatment a lot easier.



If I missed anything or if you have anything to add please feel free to leave any tips and tricks you have in the comments. I love to hear what you guys have to say!

Don't be shy if you have any questions! We're a plant community waiting to share experiences and knowledge with each other.

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