Although plant and pests can raid your home at any time, they are generally at their peak during the summer months. If you find that you have pests in your houseplants or around your home, you will need to correct the problem quickly to avoid damage and them from spreading. Some of the most common pests include the following:
The most important thing is to identify the type of pest you have so you can treat it accordingly. If you have a magnifying glass, look at the underside of your plant, which is a favorite hiding place for most household plant pests. The good news is that once you find you have a pest problem, it can be addressed easily but the key is to be persistent in the treatment. Another problem is that pests will often jump from one plant to another. Therefore, if you find that you have an infected plant and then a healthy plant next to it then you want to separate the two so the healthy one is not infected.
- Black, grey, or green bugs called aphids. Generally, these pests will be seen in a cluster at the tips of growing plants.
- Red Spider Mites are so small that they almost seem invisible. If you notice damage on your leaves, take one and flick it onto a white piece of paper. If you see very tiny brown specs that appear to be crawling, then you have mites.
- Aphids, Mites, or Thrips will also cause the leaves to curl downward, giving a puckered appearance
- Mealybugs appear as little white balls similar to white cotton
- Fungus Knats are also very small. They are black and appear to jump.
- Cyclamen Mites are difficult to see but their droppings are easy to spot, appearing as small black things on the leaves that do not move
To help keep the number of pests down, you should give your plants a good shower about every two weeks. All you have to do is take them outside on the deck or patio and with a light misting attachment for your garden hose, spray them down. Using a pesticide is also an option but you will need to check with your local nursery in that some can actually harm the plant. Additionally, if the plant will be indoors around pets or small children, then a pesticide might not be the best choice. Regardless, consider some of the options below:
- Mites - These pests are the most difficult to treat. While you can wash them off using a stronger spray of water, you can also use a chemical called Klethane. This chemical is specifically designed for mites and works in most cases. Another option is a new substance on the market called Avid. This material is made from a natural soil organism, is absorbed by the leaves, and best of all, it is safe to humans.
- Aphids, White Flies, Mealybugs - Again, a stronger shower will usually do the trick as long as it is done on a regular basis. Another option is to take a regular cotton swab and dip it rubbing alcohol. Then, rub the alcohol on the leaves. Once dry, give the plant a good washing. Finally, you can take one-half teaspoon of Ivory dishwashing soap and a gallon of water. With a mister, spray this on the plant. After about an hour, give the plant a good washing with plain water.
- Fungus Knats - If you have these pests, you can soak the soil with a chemical called Malathion about three times a week. However, a safer option is to use Gnatrol, which is ecologically safe.
- Scales - Like Mites, Scales can be difficult to treat. What happens is that this pest will literally suck the juice right out of the plant, killing it. You can simply scrape the scales off the plant or use a good systematic insecticide.