With Halloween just around the corner, you’re likely seeing more than your fair share of the supernatural. But what if we told you that your plants, your very own green amigos, might be susceptible to a haunting of their very own? Creepy crawlers love to hangout in and within your plants, and this article will explain the who, what, why of plant pests and show you how to best be rid of them once and for all. *insert evil laugh here*
We think it best to ease you into this house of horrors and start with the fungus gnat. Fungus gnats look fairly similar to fruit flies and are easily mistaken as such. They’re far more annoying than they are pest-like and are commonly found circling the moist, damp soil surface of your plants. To catch these unpleasant creatures, we recommend setting up Sticky Traps and letting the soil dry out for a few days.
Think of aphids as the vampires of the plant pest world. They’re really only there for sucking the sweet juices out of your plant, and leave behind a sticky-icky residue which can attract other insects. Aphid fact you didn’t know you were missing: when aphid populations get too crowded, some will grow wings and relocate to a new plant. So how does one treat aphids, you may ask? We recommend bringing your plant outside and spraying it down with a hose to physically eliminate the pests. As a precaution, you can also use an insecticidal soap to really get rid of aphids - just follow the formula on the bottle!
Thrips are less common creepy crawlers, but they do really love to hang out and around indoor tropical houseplants… They spread quickly and efficiently, which is why we always recommend examining new plants for pests before introducing them to the plants in your home. Thrips attack your plant by puncturing the foliage and creating a light discoloration on your leaves. The best course of treatment with these long legged pests is an insecticidal soap, blue sticky traps (they love the colour blue), or Thrips Predators (spooky right?!). Another remedy you can try is a solution of soft yellow soap (20g per litre of water) and 10ml of spirit or methanol. Spray this solution over your plant several times a week until the pests have disappeared.
Mealy bugs are a nasty pest that can show up on just about any houseplant. The mealybug got its name from the white, wooly secretion that the females produce. If you see white, woolly balls or dots on your houseplant, this is often a sign that your green amigo has been infected with mealy bugs. The texture appears on your plant as white fluff and the bugs themselves are white with stripes down their back and tiny white legs. Unfortunately, this pest is very difficult to combat as it can withstand temperature of -40°C, but that’s not to say they are impossible to control.
There are a few tricks you can use to get rid of mealybugs. First, try to spray the bugs with water. The bugs are relatively large, so you can easily check whether they have all been removed from the plant (just make sure to check the plant after a few days to see if any new eggs have hatched). Another way to get rid of mealybugs is to touch the mealybug with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. This should be done every day until the bugs and their white secretion have disappeared. If none of these tricks work, chemical pesticides are also a remaining option.
Spider mites are a distant cousin of the spider. But unlike their cousins, spider mites are very hard to see with the naked eye. Because of this, it can be hard to tell if your plant has a spider mite infestation until they have damaged your plant. Fortunately, most plants do not end up dying from spider mite infestations and this disease can be fairly easy to control.
How, you may ask? First check the underside of the leaves. If the spider mite infestation is not too large, remove the infected leaves, taking care not to infect the healthier ones. It can also help to spray your plants with cold water. A good solution is to add 2% hand soap and 1% spirit to a water sprayer filled with water, which you can then spray over your plant. The spider mite can reproduce extremely quickly, so it is also very important that any spider mite eggs are also sprayed and removed from the leaves. Spray and check your plant's leaves several times a week until the disease is gone. If none of this works, look for a biological pesticide.
As you can see by now, plant pests are NO joke. But rest assured, our team of experts is here to help! If you have any questions or need help identifying a creepy crawler please connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Who ya gonna call? Team Plantsome!