10 Foolproof Ways to Get Rid of Bugs on Indoor Plants: One List to Kill ‘em All — The Practical Planter
10 Foolproof Ways to Get Rid of Bugs on Indoor Plants: One List to Kill ‘em All
- 1 10 Foolproof Ways to Get Rid of Bugs on Indoor Plants: One List to Kill ‘em All
- 2 10 Indoor Plant Bug Remedies: The Swiss Army Knife of Bug Zappers
- 2.1 1 – There’s the Castile Soap solution
- 2.2 2 – Neem Oil – A Superb All-Rounder that Insects Hate
- 2.3 3 – Pyrethrum spray – An Instant Contact Poison for Insects
- 2.4 4 – Alcohol
- 2.5 5 – Garlic or hot pepper spray – Or mix them both for a max bug killing punch
- 2.6 6 – Herbs you can grow indoors that are fly and bug repellents
- 2.7 7 – Just use water and a garden hose
- 2.8 8 – Apple Cider Vinegar is Effective at Killing Adult Gnats – Stopping Reproduction
- 2.9 9 – Diatomaceous Earth – Food Grade Only Though if You’ve Kids and/or Pets
- 2.10 10 – Bring in your own front-line army to fight to your battle for you
- 3 How to Get Rid of Indoor Plant Insects Using Vinegar
- 4 Fight Indoor Plant Insects
- 5 Three Ways to Use Vinegar for Indoor Plant Insects
- 6 Do Indoor Plants Attract bugs? + How to get rid of it!
- 7 Most common types of houseplant bugs and how to get rid of them
- 8 Prevention of bugs in houseplants
- 9 Summary
It’s natural to bond with your plants. They are living after all. You feed them, prune them, nourish them, and bathe them on occasion. No wonder you fall in love with them.
You only realize how much when gnats, mites, mealybugs, whitefly, and any number of multi-legged and dual-winged creatures invade them, putting plant life in jeopardy.
Remember the Daleks from Dr. Who? Can you say Exterminate (say aloud in robotic voice – Or YouTube it if you’re intrigued)!
Anyhow, there’s ways and means to get things done. Some family and pet-friendly techniques work to get rid of indoor plant bugs… others are super toxic all around.
Enough already you say?
Alright. Let’s get to it. Pick one of the methods below or combine multiple for maximum bug extermination power!
10 Indoor Plant Bug Remedies: The Swiss Army Knife of Bug Zappers
1 – There’s the Castile Soap solution
And there’s a reason for that. Any internet research you’ve done up until now, is wrong (probably).
Well, let’s assume for a second that you’ve read some clown’s advice about suffocating indoor plant bugs using a soapy water solution. Made up of… Dish-washing soap.
The problem there is… There’s no such thing. Dish-washing liquid is not a soap. It’s a detergent. Castile soap is a true soap.
That said, ivory dish-washing soap is the only other type of pure soap you can easily get your hands on (who’s the clown now?). The rest will harm your plants because of the additives.
Additives are things like:
- Fragrances including scented oils, essential oils and perfumes
No mistaking though, any type of watery soap mixture will kill soft-bodied insects. It’ll also strip the waxy coating from your plants leaves, leaving it very likely to dehydrate. Get the mixture too strong and you’ll kill your plant.
Enough said… If you want to risk it, take your chances… (pay attention to the cautions listed).
The DIY route for making your own castile soap insecticide is a triple-simples process:
- Get a spray bottle. If it’s a used one, clean it thoroughly.
- Mix a tablespoon of the liquid soap per quart of water (that’s a quarter gallon, two pints, or four cups).
- Give it a good shake/mix.
You can spray your entire plant. Better safe than sorry though. Coat only one leaf, leave it 24 hours and see if the spray damaged the plant any more. If it did, try something else. If didn’t, go ahead and use it on the rest.
Take precautions though, because the plant will need repeated applications and you won’t want to damage it further.
How many applications? Good question…
- For a light infestation – apply a second spraying a week later.
- If it’s more than a few insects, do spot treatments every few days. That means, inspect the plant, look for the bugs and directly spray them instead of soaking your plant. This works only on contact with the pests. They won’t be attracted to it since it’s not scented.
- For a heavy infestation, you may want to entirely coat the plant every few days with the solution.
Be sure to spray it in the morning when the temperatures are cool, because soapy water is only good when it’s wet.
Once it dries, it’s useless since it can’t affect the critters. Ideally, you want the mixture on the plant for as long as possible. Do that by spraying it in low temperatures since it won’t dry out as fast.
For this soapy spray to work, the soap solution needs to contact the pests. Once it does, it penetrates their membranes, attacking their nervous systems causing a complete shutdown. Death!
Good times (sounds evil).
Bad times are if the mixture is so strong that it damages the leaves to the point of the plant dehydrating. Then there’d be no point in killing the bugs. They’d leave all by themselves since they’d have no nourishment to munch on.
Words to make you wiser:
Most smaller insects prefer the dark so you’ll find them on the underside of the leaves. For best results with minimal risk (not saying there’s no risk), spray the liquid soap directly at the bugs you see rather than coating the entire plant.
Look closely on the underside of the leaves. That’s where they like to hideout.
For your plants safety though, take the word of the experts… The safer way to use insecticidal soap is to use a highly refined version.
For that, authors Carlin Munnerlyn and Joey Williamson, both of Clemson University along with Master Gardener Joyce D. Ubl report 10 commonly available commercial insecticidal soaps, much safer than the DIY variety.
- Bayer Advanced Natria Insecticidal Soap (view on Amazon)
- Bonide Insecticidal Soap
- Concern Rose and Flower Insect Killer II
- Espoma Earth-tone Insecticidal Soap
- Lilly Miller – Worry Free Insecticidal Soap
- Natural Guard Insecticidal Soap
- Raid Earth Options Insecticidal Soap
- Safer Insect Killing Soap
- Schultz Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer
- Whitney Farms Insecticidal Soap
Note: This was retrieved from Factsheet HGIC 2771 from the Clemson Cooperative Extension and was last updated: Aug 12, 2015. Disclaimers apply. It’s only a list. Not an endorsement.
Still though, there’s more tricks to put up your sleeve.
2 – Neem Oil – A Superb All-Rounder that Insects Hate
What doesn’t sound good about this?
It’s pet-safe, family-safe, organic (always great for plants), able to control hundreds of different insect breeds, adult, larvae and their eggs.
In other words, it’s a dream oil for your plants and get this… It’s ideal for indoor use!
Here’s how to make your own neem oil spray:
What you’ll need:
- A pale or bucket large enough to mix the amount of spray you’re making.
- An empty (and clean) spray bottle.
- Neem oil extract (link to Amazon) – cold pressed is best.
- Liquid castile soap (link to Amazon) for an emulsifier.
For your neem oil…
Try to use pure but definitely go with cold pressed neem oil extract because the active ingredient (Azadirachtin) is more potent.
Then you’ll need an emulsifier (because oil doesn’t mix with water) and for that, go with the trusted liquid castile soap.
The quantities you need for 10 liters at 2% (1% is for general purpose) neem oil spray are:
- 200 ml neem oil
- 30 ml liquid castile soap
- 10 liters water
Adjust the concentration to suit the quantity you’re making.
As an example: 5 liters at 2%, half the quantities to 100 ml neem oil, 15 ml liquid castile soap and reduce the water to 5 liters. If you want to make it stronger, say for a heavier plant infestation, increase the amount of neem oil while leaving the other quantities the same.
How to put it together
- Add the liquid castile soap to the warm water
- Slowly pour in your neem oil (constantly stir this to get it mixed thoroughly).
- Once it’s dissolved, put it in your spray bottle, shake it well and keep shaking it. Use it right away by drenching your plant with it. The mix is only good up to 8 hours, then it loses potency.
You need to know this part…
This will need repeating as it’s not an instant bug killer. It takes time. Give it a week before retreating the plant and keep spraying on a weekly basis until the bugs are gone.
Once the infestation’s cleared, you can drop the concentration to 0.5% of neem oil to use it as a bug repellent.
Or there’s this organic bug controller:
3 – Pyrethrum spray – An Instant Contact Poison for Insects
That’s pronounced pie-wreath-rum. Think festive. Christmas pie, wreath on the door and a bottle of rum.
It’s not the same as permethrin spray. That’s something used to control other insect pests like bed bugs, mosquitoes and insects around the home that aren’t making a home in your plants.
Look at it this way:
- If your bugs are bugging you. It’s permethrin spray.
- If the bugs are infesting your plants… it’s pyrethrum spray.
Like neem oil, it’s a contact poison.
When insects come into contact with this, their nervous systems are attacked. To the point it shuts down and they die.
But, get this… Whilst it is organic, it’s not long-lasting. High temperatures and exposure to UV light will reduce its potency. For that reason, like neem oil, spray when the temperature is cooler, but instead of in the morning, apply it at night.
It’s not good to assume. Like because it’s safe for indoor use, you can safely use it in the garden.
It’ll kill beneficial insects too. More importantly, the kind that’s on the endangered species list – the Honey Bee. That means, you can’t be (or shouldn’t be) knowingly killing them.
Pyrethrum spray is highly toxic to all insects. Beneficial or plant-wreckers. It doesn’t discriminate. Since honey bees are usually outdoors in pollinated areas, it’s unlikely they’ll be of concern indoors.
You can make your own, but you’d need to have grown flowers from the chrysanthemums family or Tanacetum family. The most common is the perennial daisy.
If you’re doing that, when the flowers bloom, (wear gloves since this is harmful) pick the flower heads, dry them out in a cool and dark place. Then grind it down until it’s course. For every 1 cup (130 grams), add the grinded powder to 2 liters of warm water, then leave it to stand for a few hours.
Then drain it so it’s just the water left.
Add a teaspoon of liquid castile soap and a teaspoon of cooking oil, mix it together…
Add that to a spray bottle and you’re ready to apply it to your plants.
But, it’d really be much easier to just order a bottle of ready to use pyrethrum spray online or pick up a spray at your garden center. Some garden centers may only sell the powder form. If it’s only powder, make the spray by adding a little pure soap, cooking oil and warm water.
Another reason to buy it ready to use: It comes with instructions. Follow them!
This spray is not family and pet friendly so always use with care. Especially when you’re putting it in unlabeled spray bottles.
Or use what you’re already careful with…
4 – Alcohol
Vodka, stale beer, rum… you name it. Don’t use it on your plants.
When people talk about using alcohol to get rid of pests, what they really mean is to get rid of slugs and snails.
For that, it’s called a beer trap.
All you do is put stale beer in a shallow dish, put it where your slug problem is, indoors or out. Slugs and snails are attracted to the sugary content caused by fermentation. They can’t help themselves from going into the dish and slugging away.
When they do, they get drunk. They might drown but either way, take the dish outside in the morning to return them to mother earth.
Here’s what you ought to know about alcohol and plants.
Isopropyl is sold as rubbing alcohol. It’s as high as 70% concentration. That’s antiseptic levels. Not like your old-style country western movie antiseptic used for cleaning gunshot wounds with whisky.
- Ethanol will stunt plant growth.
- Methanol will encourage plant growth.
However, with ethanol alcohol, 5% concentrate stunts plant growth but at 10% it stresses your plant. 25% concentration will kill it.
Isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) is the most appropriate. Besides, you can use it for far more. Like glass cleaning, or sterilizing anything, including your pruners and scissors.
Even better… It’s cheap to buy. Cheaper than a bottle of any spirits.
To use it as a pest control method, all you do is use cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol and dab it on top of the pests. They hate it. Especially mealybugs.
Now, if you don’t fancy inspecting for bugs and dabbing each one, you can make a spray with rubbing alcohol.
All you need are the quantities:
Quick reminder: “a quart is a quarter gallon, two pints, or four cups”
That’s assuming your rubbing alcohol is 70%. If it’s less concentrated, increase the amount. If it’s more potent, reduce the amount you’re using.
Or, here’s one you can apply just now, if you’ve got this stuff in the kitchen already anyway.
5 – Garlic or hot pepper spray – Or mix them both for a max bug killing punch
Garlic spray on its own used to treat the plant foliage will be effective to get rid of bugs. Using the garlic water in soil plants, you’ll be able to treat both nematode problems and get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants.
- A processor/blender
- 1 head of garlic
- A jar big enough to hold a couple cups of water
- A container big enough to hold a gallon of water
- A spray bottle (cleaned out) for application
Here’s what to do:
- Put the garlic through the blender until you’ve got a smooth consistency
- Pour in two cups of water
- Pulse the mixture twice
- Pour it into a jar, cover it and let it sit somewhere dark for a day
- Strain the mix
- Pour it into the bigger container and top up with water to bring it up to 1 gallon
- Fill your spray bottle and apply it to your plant
Apply your garlic mix weekly until the pests are gone.
If you want to make it more effective, toss some chopped up spicy herbs (jalapenos, Habanero etc.) to your mix and add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Listen up though… This stuff’s harmful to pests but it’s also super unpleasant for you (if you’ve a bad memory: Read that last sentence 7 times more so you remember it).
Spicy herbs are potent and when mixed like this, it’s unpleasant on your throat, and certainly don’t touch your eyes after handling these.
Wear gloves and cover your mouth and nose with something (a winter scarf should do the trick).
To help the peppers infuse into the water, heat them up, bring them to a simmer and give them 15-minutes. Then let it cool down and mix it with your garlic solution.
Or…You could grow your own pest repellents:
6 – Herbs you can grow indoors that are fly and bug repellents
Keep mosquitoes and flies away with rosemary and bugs away with mint.
Both of these spread like wildfire when grown outdoors, but they can be potted and grown indoors.
So can catnip. Cats love that, but you’ll need to alternate between outdoors and indoors as catnip needs plenty of sun.
None are fast acting like the others, but once your pests are gone, they’re handy to have around the plants for the scents to keep them away.
What we perceive as pleasant smells, bugs absolutely hate the scents.
If you’d like to take a shot at growing herbs indoors, grow them near your other plants so the smell stops any other pests being attracted to your plants.
For another safe way to flush the bugs out…
7 – Just use water and a garden hose
Yup! Simple as that. Take your plant outside, perch it down, give it a shower with the strongest jet spray it can handle, and wash those bugs away. Works particularly well with aphids on indoor plants.
You could also use your shower to give your plant a shower.
Here’s one for the most common of all – Gnats.
8 – Apple Cider Vinegar is Effective at Killing Adult Gnats – Stopping Reproduction
Gnats. Annoying as they are, they’re idiots. The adult ones anyway.
They’ll drown themselves, provided you set the bait.
That bait… A bowl filled with apple cider vinegar. They’re attracted to it. Cover it with cling film, take a fork and pierce the tiniest of holes in it.
They’ll crawl into the bowl then drown because they can’t crawl back out the minuscule hole they struggled through to get into the bowl.
There’s still going to be larvae and eggs in the soil so the problem’s not gone. For that, there’s a trick coming up you’ll love – It’s a real heavy hitter!
For more info about getting rid of gnats, see my in-depth guide.
For now, let’s cover…
9 – Diatomaceous Earth – Food Grade Only Though if You’ve Kids and/or Pets
This is a great way to protect your plants and family and address a deeper issue – how to get rid of bugs in soil. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth is lethal to every insect to come into contact with it.
The easiest way to use it… In a plastic soda bottle.
Just use a funnel to add the powder, pierce the lid a few times (narrow holes) and then when you squeeze it, out puffs the powder to coat your plants. Great use of plastics, eh?
Also handy is to coat your pot with the powder before you pot your plant. Do that if you’re going to repot your plant.
Then each time you water it, add some more powder to the top soil. Any larvae or eggs won’t survive long enough to develop wings.
If that’s not enough, here’s the heavy hitter:
10 – Bring in your own front-line army to fight to your battle for you
Now we’re talking getting super nasty with the bugs. All-out war! Nematode war that is.
There’s good nematodes and there’s bad nematodes. None are frogs, by the way.
And get this: it’s been proven that beneficial nematodes can be used for pest control management. Safe for everything else, bar insects. Farmers needed these and now use them.
And you can too.
Tiny little roundworms (not the type you protect your dog from) but the type that preys on predators.
The same things lurking in soil munching your plants, these good guys eat them for breakfast, while leaving your plant nourished and thriving.
24/7 protection! Can’t get better than that.
On a final note:
As soon as you notice a plant with any type of bug problem… Quarantine it! Separate it from all other plants. Put it in the shower cubicle or a room with no other plants around.
Always isolate infected plants.
If you want more tips and tricks on taking care of indoor plants, check out my posts on cost effective ways to indoor garden and how to save a diseased plant from dying!
How to Get Rid of Indoor Plant Insects Using Vinegar
If your plants have been attacked by these white insects and you don’t know what to do, try these tricks using vinegar to get rid of them permanently.
Today, we’ll share some simple methods to get rid of indoor plant insects using a cheap and easy-to-find natural ingredient: vinegar.
Plants give any environment new life and can complement any style. After all, there’s nothing more refreshing than some vegetation inside the home. That’s why it’s important to keep it looking perfect.
Unfortunately, sometimes plants are attacked by little white insects that cause them to lose their color and wither.
If indoor plant insects are a problem for you, don’t worry: today, we’ll tell you how to completely eliminate them without having to use chemical products that can cause allergies or other health issues, especially if you have children or pets in the house.
Fight Indoor Plant Insects
White flies are small indoor plant insects that are only about three millimeters. They attack plant leaves and consume the sap inside. The first signs of these insects are yellow leaves that become dry and finally die and fall off.
These insects can be extremely harmful because they produce at an exponential rate. They produce at least four generations a year. A generation includes the entire life cycle of an insect, from when the egg is laid to when it dies.
This is a summer pest because it flourishes better in warm and humid environments. For this reason, it’s more of a danger inside homes and in greenhouses where the climate is ideal for proliferation and up to 11 generations per year can be produced.
Three Ways to Use Vinegar for Indoor Plant Insects
Vinegar is simply a diluted form of acetic acid that’s obtained through the fermentation of any product that contains sugar or starch. It has antiseptic and disinfectant properties, which is why it’s often used in medicine and pharmaceutics.
The Benefits of Using Vinegar
- It’s cheap.
- The products we’ll show you today are very easy to make and can be ready in seconds.
- Vinegar eliminates white flies completely.
- It won’t stain.
- It’s not harmful to children or pets.
- Because of the antibacterial properties, vinegar eliminates germs that might harm the plants or the surrounding environment.
1-A fly trap
White flies love fermented foods, so vinegar is an ideal way to trap them. Acetic acid also slows them down so you can catch them more easily. If you put vinegar in a bottle, the flies will be attracted to it and won’t be able to escape.
What you’ll need:
- 1 wide-mouthed jar
- A knife
- Vinegar (1 cup)
What to do:
- Place the vinegar inside the jar.
- In the lid of the jar, make some large holes using the knife.
- Place the lid on the jar.
- Then, place it out in a place where you’ve noticed the flies and watch it work its magic!
2-Vinegar sticky trap
When you mix vinegar with a sticky food supply, such as peanut butter, and place it in a closed trap with holes, the flies will enter and be unable to leave once they are stuck to the food.
What you’ll need:
- A small box with holes in the top
- A small dish
- Peanut butter (2 tablespoons)
- Vinegar (2 tablespoons)
What to do:
- Place the peanut butter and vinegar on the plate.
- Mix well.
- Put the plate inside the box and close it.
3-Vinegar and soap
This trap is a good one, because the flies will be attracted to the mixture and leave your plants alone. The soap will trap them so they can’t escape, as well.
This is a very practical trap because you can make a few of them to place in different rooms.
What you’ll need:
- Apple cider vinegar (1 cup)
- Soap (1/2 cup)
- A container
What to do:
- Add the vinegar and soap to a cup.
- Mix well.
- Place in a container next to the affected plants.
Use these simple tricks with vinegar to fight those annoying insects and keep your plants health. Try them and enjoy more plants inside the home!
Do Indoor Plants Attract bugs? + How to get rid of it!
Indoor plants offer an easy and low maintenance alternative to gardening for those living in apartments. However, they are living and can get sick just like us.
If you see a plant looking ill, there is a high chance that your luck has run out and that they are infested with bugs and mites.
Indoor plants can get infested with bugs due to a variety of reasons- from outdoors, from new unsterile soil, from the nursery, due to unfavorable light and water conditions which makes them weak and susceptible to infestation, especially in winters.
Owing to the warm and consistent indoor conditions, the plant bugs can multiply and spread quickly. Ignoring their presence can lead to a bad infestation after which it becomes difficult to save the plant.
They need to be dealt with quickly and effectively to nurse the houseplant back into good healthy foliage.
Table of Contents
Most common types of houseplant bugs and how to get rid of them
Below are some of the most common houseplant bugs and how to get rid of these.
Aphids are mostly found grouped on tender new leaf tips or on the underside of leaves. They have a soft oval or teardrop-shaped body which can be of various colors (black, red, yellow, green-brown).
They suck plant juices and secrete a sticky substance known as “honeydew”.
Honeydew attracts another unwelcome pest- sugar ant which makes burrows into the soil and destroys the roots of the plant with its burrowing.
How to get rid of Aphids?
Aphids cause deformed and stunted plant growth. To get rid of aphids, if the infestation is small, a cloth moistened with soapy water to wipe away is sufficient.soapy water kills aphids on contact.
You can also use insecticidal soap or neem oil. Spray the aphids away with a strong stream of water.
Use insecticidal soap from time to time until you are sure all signs of infestations are gone. In case of bad infestations, stems should be pruned off.
These are cousins of spiders and like spiders, they spin a fine silky webbing.
They can collectively spin a web over the entire plant! If you look closely, you will see tiny webs crawling around on the webbing, those are the mites themselves.
They spread rapidly with eggs hatching only days after being laid. They thrive in warm and dry conditions.
How to get rid of Spider Mites?
To get rid of spider mites, take the plant outdoors and wash it with a spray of water. They are tiny and are easily dislodged with the spray of water.
Be sure to rinse both upper and lower surfaces of leaves. You can also use soapy water. Dry it thoroughly and apply neem oil or insecticidal soap. Repeat once a week for three weeks to kill any new hatchings.
Keep air circulating and provide extra humidity.
Misting regularly helps to prevent spider mites. For heavily infested stems, prune them off.
These are small black flies which feed on the fungi that naturally grow in potting soil. Their eggs and larvae need water to survive so their infestation is mostly a result of overwatering.
Their life cycle is for about a week. They thrive in high humidity. Their larvae in the soil eat up new tender roots. They multiply quickly as fungus gnat lays down 300 eggs at a time.
How to get rid of Fungus Gnats?
An easy way to control them is to let the soil dry out as fungus gnats need constant moisture to survive. Another effective method to remove fungus and bacteria from the soil and fungus gnats is to use one part 3% hydrogen peroxide with four parts water.
Water the plants with this solution. It will also oxygenate the soil leading to a healthy plant. Repeat the treatment a few times to get rid of any eggs laid by adult gnats.
For a heavily infested plant, repot with fresh soil to get rid of fungus gnats.
Place a yellow sticky trap near the plant or just over it to capture the adult gnats. It will help to keep the adult gnats from flying to other houseplants.
It is one of the most common houseplant bugs but it is difficult to spot. They are found around the stems and around the underside of leaves as immobile brown or white dots or bumps.
These shells protect the insect inside as they suck the juices out of the plant’s vascular system.
How to get rid of Scales?
You have to remove the scales by hand using your fingernails. Use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or a toothpick. The alcohol will only work when it comes in direct contact with the insect inside.
Dislodging it physically multiple times over a couple of weeks works best.
You can also use neem-based pesticides. Trim the heavily infested parts.
Crawlers can leave the plant and then come back to infest it again. So to remove the plant from that area and clean the crevices of the pot both top and bottom and the plant tray.
These are tiny, white, moth-like flies found on the leaf undersides and will quickly fly off the plant when it is disturbed.
They suck the sap out of the plants leaving the plants wilted with stunted growth and yellow foliage.
How to get rid of Whiteflies?
Whiteflies can be easily trapped by placing yellow sticky cards just above the plant top. Spray the plant with water and insecticidal soap.
Try not to disturb while spraying so the whiteflies don’t fly off. Be sure to apply on both upper and lower surfaces of leaves. Neem oil is a wonderful natural spray for whiteflies control.
Spray it consistently for a few weeks until all signs of infestation disappear.
If you see little white bugs on the plant leaf underside, intersection of leaves and stems which do not fly around when disturbed, then you have mealy bugs.
Mealybugs appear as white stuff which looks like cotton or mildew. You may also notice a sticky residue. They suck the sap out of the plant resulting in stunted and deformed growth.
How to get rid of Mealybugs?
The fuzzy coating around the mealybugs prevents it from water or pesticides. So the best way to remove mealybug is by hand.
Use alcohol dipped cotton swabs and touch on mealybugs to effectively kill them. For the final touch use an insecticidal soapy solution and spray on the plant every week for a few weeks.
Quarantine the affected plant to prevent the spread of mealybugs to other houseplants.
Prevention of bugs in houseplants
There are certain houseplants which are more susceptible to pests than others, however, in general, by following a few simple steps, houseplant bug problems can be easily prevented.
Firstly, choose a houseplant which is suited for your indoor light conditions. Unfavorable light conditions make the plant go through a lot of stress. This makes the plant susceptible to infestation.
Make a close examination of your Indoor plant before purchasing and taking it home. Examine the plant from top to bottom, leaf undersides, along the stems.
Pot your plant in sterile soil. A store-bought potting mix is usually sterile. Using outdoor garden soil can introduce larvae of bugs into your houseplants.
Use a well-draining soil mix or place a layer of gravel beneath the soil. Poorly drained soil can saturate or even rot the roots and make the plant susceptible to bug attack.
Avoid placing the plant in trouble areas. By trouble areas, I mean places where the temperatures fluctuate quite often, too warm areas or too cold areas. Avoid placing them near air conditioners, radiators, and frosty windows. The heating systems can dry out the air in winters, place a humidity tray nearby or below the plant and mist occasionally.
Winter growth on many plants is weaker than in summer making it more vulnerable to infestation. Plus houseplants go into a state of dormancy in winters which makes them prone to bugs.
Provide the right light. Each plant has its own light requirements. Plants which prefer bright light do quite well in south-facing windows. Use east or west-facing windows for moderate sunlight. North facing windows for exposure to less sunlight. Plants with high light requirements should be placed under grow lights
Next, even if you can’t see any pests, it may have pest eggs or young pests that are not visible to the naked eye. So what do we do? Before adding it along with other houseplants, for security, place your houseplant in solitary confinement in a separate room for a few weeks. Keep checking the plant.
You can also place yellow sticky cards just above the top of the plant. Many pest insects are attracted to the color yellow and they quickly get trapped on the card. Keep checking the card, if you have a few on the card, there are high chances you have many more on the plant itself.
Clean your houseplants regularly. Bugs feed on dust buildups. Dust can contain skin cells or pet hair or any other contaminant. Some insects like mites thrive in a thick layer of dust. They are less likely to get attracted to a clean plant.
Moreover, dust clogs the pores of the plant making it difficult for them to respirate. Dust also filters the sunlight before it reaches the plant. This decreases the amount of photosynthesis taking place.
Use a moist cloth to gently wipe the leaves of the plant. Once in a while on sunny days, give your plants a good bath with warm soapy water in the sink or bathroom. You can also add a few drops of neem oil concentrate to the bathing water. Place the plant outside to dry.
Keep inspecting your plants regularly. Some of the signs of infestation or changes can lead to early detection and management. This can save you a lot of trouble. Discolored, speckled, mottled and chewed up leaves indicate bug activity. You may even see the bugs and their larvae.
Provide consistent water. Alternating periods of drought and flood can stress the plant out. Different plants have different water requirements.
Some plants like to dry out between waterings while some like to remain moist. Know the requirements of your indoor plants. Check soil moisture by sticking your finger inside the soil.
Store your unused potting soil in airtight containers. They are also called as bug-proof containers as bugs can’t live without air.
Always clean and disinfect your pots and plant trays before reusing them. Wash them with soapy water.
Lastly, before moving your outdoor plants indoors for the winter dormancy, spray them effectively with a forceful stream of water from the nozzle of a hose. This will dislodge any bugs present whatsoever.
Even with the precautionary steps, your plant can get infested with bugs. There are several methods to kill and remove the bugs.
Let us see who are they and what to do about them.
Keep in mind that few plants can be sensitive to insecticidal soap, so it’s best to test the solution on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant.
In order to get rid of houseplant bugs, you must be vigilant in fighting them. It can take several rounds of treatment before eliminating them for good. Inspect daily and continue treatment until all signs of infestation are gone.
Never repot a plant just because it has a bug problem without trying above techniques of bug removal. Repotting can further stress an unhealthy houseplant which could end up killing the plant.
All the above techniques do not have a residual effect to prevent the bugs from coming back. It’s important to stay smart and create an optimum and ideal environment for a happy, healthy plant.
Choose wisely and care for the indoor plants smartly. Prevent attraction of bugs and if they occur nonetheless, get rid of it asap by following the above methodologies.
Lastly, if the plant becomes heavily infested with bugs, so much so that nothing helps, then know it’s time to give up on that plant. plant it outdoors in any area far away from healthy plants and forget about it or throw it away in an airtight garbage bag.
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