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How to Get Rid of Bugs on Indoor Plants

By April Sanders ; Updated September 21, 2017

A lack of enough sunlight is a common problem with indoor plants, but another, less well-known problem is bug infestations. If your houseplant is not thriving and you can't figure out why, chances are you have an insect problem. Tiny mites or flies can quickly doom a plant. Get rid of these bugs as soon as you notice a problem to keep your indoor plants in top condition.

Check for tell-tale signs of infestation. Curling leaves, brown spots, tiny white smudges and bumps on your plant's stems are all symptoms of bugs.

Move affected indoor plants far away from healthy indoor plants. This will stop any spreading of the bugs.

Identify the bugs. This may be difficult, but if you can identify which bugs are on your houseplant, you can tailor your treatment to get rid of that particular bug. For example, spider mites, which look like tiny bits of dust, lay white eggs underneath the leaves of indoor plants. If you have spider mites, concentrate on the undersides of the leaves when you treat your plant.

Remove as many bugs and their eggs as possible by wiping them off with a cotton swab. Protect your hands with gardening gloves, then dip a cotton swab in some rubbing alcohol and run it over the plant's stems and leaves. This will remove bugs and eggs that might be sheltered from a spray. You also can use a soft, thin cotton rag to remove the pests.

Spray the plant with a soapy solution. The suds will suffocate most bugs that infest indoor plants. It will not, however, kill the eggs, which is why it's important to wipe them off first. Create a nontoxic spray by combining a pint of water with 1 tbsp. of liquid soap. Place the mixture in a spray bottle, shake it well and spray the plant thoroughly.

Scoop off the top layer of soil where many bugs, such as pill bugs, like to hide.

Re-pot the plant if the infestation seems particularly bad in the soil. Remove the plant and shake off as much excess soil as possible. Dump out the soil and make sure the pot is free of any lingering bugs. Use fresh potting soil to re-pot the plant.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab
  • Thin cotton cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid soap
  • Potting soil

Tip

  • If you still see bugs on your plant after you spray soapy water on it, try creating a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water, then spray this on the plant. Although this may temporarily discolor some types of plant foliage, such as African Violets, it is very effective at killing all types of indoor plant pests.

Warning

  • Treat bug problems the minute you see any telltale signs. The most common and obvious sign is yellow or shriveled-up leaves, which will quickly fall off the plant. If you ignore bugs, the plant will eventually die, and the bugs could spread to other plants.

References