Indoor Plants, What to do with bug infestations?
Here are the 7 most common bugs that can affect indoor plants.
Fungus Gnats look like standard black flies and are 2mm long. Their larva is challenging to spot they nest right underneath the soil, the flies themselves will walk over the surface of the soil. They will annoy you more than they harm your plant.
To get rid of them target the larvae in the soil. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, the eggs and larvae need moisture to survive. Remember to drain any excess water that may have accumulated in saucers.
Aphids sit on your plant’s leaves and eat the sap. As the infestation gets worse, the aphids will rob the plant of the nutrients it needs to thrive. You can see clusters of them under your plant’s leaves, they are green and try to camouflage, but you can still spot them. You may also notice your plant has sticky leaves as they leave a honey light secretion.
To get rid of them, rinse them off with a steady stream of water, then wash the leaves with a weak solution of soap and water. Soapy water kills aphids on contact.
3. Spider Mites
Spider Mites are difficult to spot, but affected plants lose their lush green colour, becoming grey-brown and dull. If your plant starts to look a bit dead or you notice a bit of webbing in and around the plant, check under the leaves for these tiny redish brown creatures, a magnifying glass will help!
To get rid of them, mix 1tsp of liquid soap with 1L of water and spray your entire plant from top to bottom. Wash off the solution 2-3 hours later, be sure to remove all the soap residue from all foliage surface to avoid any leaf burn. Repeat every 4-7 days until the Mites are gone!
These are not easy to spot, keep an eye out for small cottony spots at the intersections of leaves, stems and under leaves. Suffering plants may drop yellow leaves, and you may notice a wax-like a residue on leaves.
The best way to get rid of them is by hand, you can knock them off your plant with a cotton swab doused in alcohol. After removing any visible bugs, spray the plant with an oil or soap spray.
5. White Flys
White flys are also tricky to spot, they are so small they look like dandruff flakes sprinkled on the plant. You ‘won’t see them without a magnifying glass, you can find their eggs on the underside of leaves though, they look like small crescents.
You will need to tackle White Flies while they are babies if you wait till they mature they will just fly away when you spray them. Spray the plant with a soap solution, pay special attention to the underside of leaves, where most of the whiteflies live. Repeat every 3-4 days until the infestation is gone.
6. Scale Insects
Scale insects are immobile and stick to the leaf of the plant and soak out juices. They usually take the form of a shell or a pearl. If you ‘don’t notice them by sight, you can tell something is wrong by the waxy secretion they leave on the plant.
To get rid of them, prune & dispose of the affected branches, twigs and leaves. If there are not too many, the scale can be picked off by hand. Dabbing them with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab will also work on light infestations. When in pots they should be placed on a surface where they can drain freely, like bricks or paving.
You will notice discolouration and deformities on your plants before you see the bugs themselves. Thrips are tiny black bugs, so they are quite tricky to spot, they will cut a small place in the plant and lay their eggs, these are also difficult to see. If you notice one of your plants is infested with thrips, you should isolate it from others that ‘aren’t.
To get rid of them spray every 2-3 days with soap spray.
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