Common House Plant Pests

All houseplants are susceptible to pests, but there are a few tips and tricks for dealing with the pesky critters. Start by checking your plants each time you water them for anything that looks unusual and isolate any that are looking under the weather to inhibit the spread of pests to any of your other plants.  

MEALY BUG

Look closely and you’ll see tiny fluffy white bugs under leaves and nestled at branch points. You may also see white eggs encased in a tiny pouch, also resembling puffs of white cotton. Look quite cute? They’re going to infest and literally suck the life out of your plant.

Immediately isolate the plant and scrape off any white fluff you can see whilst promptly ordering some rubbing alcohol online (chemists don’t stock it anymore) and a wee misting bottle. Mist the whole plant with the rubbing alcohol, paying particular attention to the undersides of the leaves, which will kill any mealy bugs on contact and evaporates quickly, causing no damage to your plant. Be vigilant and do this every few days. They can be persistent and difficult to get rid of, but if you stay on top of it your plant will thank you for it. 

Mealy Bug Damage

Mealy Bug Close Up

SPIDER MITE

These look like tiny white dots to the naked eye but on close inspection they have eight legs and are usually accompanied by a fine webbing. They are able to move on the breeze, floating on their web so can spread very easily. Isolate the plant as soon as you can to avoid further infestation.

Make a strong dish soap and water mixture up in a spray bottle using a mild, eco-friendly dish soap. Use it to wash the plant thoroughly paying particular attention to the undersides of the leaves, rinsing off any mites you can see. Avoid the healthy areas of the plant. Give it a good drink – thirsty plants are more susceptible to attack. Keep an eye on it and reapply once a week. If that doesn’t seem to do the trick purchase some pure neem oil and make a mix (roughly 1 tsp neem oil to 100ml tepid water) to use in the same way. 

Spider Mite Damage

Spider Mite Close Up

APHIDS

These lime green (sometimes black), juicy looking insects cling to the young, succulent stems of plants, laying their eggs on the underside of leaves. Lower leaves are often covered in a sticky substance called honeydew (aphid poo) and that may be what you notice first.

Aphid infestations can be large as they multiply quickly and can easily move to neighbouring plants once theirs is full up. So if you find them, pop the plant in the shower and knock them off the stems and leaves with a strong stream of tepid water. Next, mix up eco-friendly mild soap and water 50/50 in a misting bottle and spray the affected areas of the plant. Soapy water kills aphids on contact and will not harm your plant, although it’s wise to test it on a small cluster of leaves at first. Keep this misting up with a fresh mix every few days as eggs could have clung on and have hatched. Keep going until all signs of infestation have vanished.

Aphids Damage

Aphids Close Up