Even though houseplants live inside, insect pests can still get access to their tender vegetation under the right circumstances. Treating insects on houseplants with home pest remedies and proper care can help prevent or reduce damage to the plant as a result of the insect pests. Understand the types of insect pests on houseplants and how to get rid of them, improving the health of your houseplant.
Though an insect infestation can sometimes be made apparent by the presence of many insects, the evidence of insects on houseplants also appears as plant damage. Houseplants may lose leaves, turn yellow or brown, or look sickly because of an infestation of insects. Some insect pests chew holes in leaves.
Types of insects that feed on houseplants include aphids, fungus gnats, whitefly and mealybugs. Aphids are tiny green, yellow or red bugs that attach in groups on the leaves and stem of a houseplant. Fungus gnats are tiny gnats that look like mini mosquitoes. Whiteflies are tiny gnat-like insects with four wings that fly around when the plants are watered. Mealybugs are tiny white bugs with a hard coating that gather on the bottoms of the leaves of houseplants.
Many insect pests can be treated with objects you may already have around the house. Mealybugs and aphids can be killed by carefully applying 70 percent rubbing alcohol onto them with a cotton swab. Mealybugs can also be picked off the plant with a pair of needlenose tweezers. Fungus gnats and whitefly can be treated by creating a sticky trap out of a piece of yellow plastic with petroleum jelly smeared on one side. The gnats are attracted to yellow and become stuck in the petroleum jelly.
Pesticides must be used sparingly on houseplants because they are indoors and run a greater chance of contact with people or pets. Insecticidal soap is a common safe pest killer, but the soap damages the leaves of some delicate houseplants. Unless the insect infestation is severe, the insecticidal soap should be sufficient to get rid of the insects. For severe infestations, houseplants may need to be treated professionally with pesticides outdoors or away from people. If this is the case, it may be easier and less expensive to throw the plants away and replace them with new ones.
Many insect pests enter houseplants when they are placed outside during warm weather. Insect infestations can be prevented by spraying a houseplant with insecticidal soap before moving it outside. Proper watering can help prevent some insect infestations. Overwatering a plant can render it vulnerable to pests like fungus gnats. Inspect all new plants for pests before introducing them to other plants. Many insect infestations come from new plants.