House Plant Diseases Caused by Insects


One of the most common triggers of houseplant diseases is often not an insect transmitting a disease, but rather an insect infestation weakening a plant and making it susceptible to disease. Insects damage leaves or feed on the sap of a plant, inviting disease. Insects with sucking mouth parts often transfer viruses from one plant to another, according to Ohio State University's website.


Tomato spotted wilt is a virus that is transmitted by thrips, a common household plant pest. This virus mainly affects vegetables, but will attack ornamental plants like gloxinia if given the chance, according to Colorado State University's website. Impatiens necrotic spot, African cassava, cucumber and cowpea mosaic virus, carnation streak, and citrus tristeza can also be transmitted by insects.


A plant may look diseased when it is exhibiting symptoms of unwanted guests. Mealy bugs create a cotton looking mass on leaves on stems. Small brown bumps on the foliage can be scale insects. Fungal infections can cause a plant to wilt or drop leaves.


The Colorado State University Extension website recommends keeping newly purchased plants away from existing houseplants for up to three weeks until you are sure your new plant is not harboring pests.


  • Colorado State University: Managing Houseplant Pests: W.S. Cranshaw
  • GardenHelper: Troubleshooting, Diagnosing and Resolving Plant Health Problems
  • Ohio State University: Viral Diseases of Plants: Ellis, Boehm and Feng Qu
  • University of Kentucky: Diseases and Cultural Problems of Houseplants: Hartman and Eshenaur
Keywords: houseplant virus, plant disease, houseplant pests

About this Author

Brenda Christian began writing professionally in 2009. She enjoys writing articles on gardening, pet care, general insurance topics and insurance claims and her work appears on eHow and Christian earned her Bachelor of Arts in business management from Walsh University and her senior claims law associate designation through the American Educational Institute.

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