Six ‘common’ pests which could ‘damage’ houseplants in winter

Monstera: Houseplant expert details how to remove pests

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After all the hard work which goes into looking after houseplants, it can be disappointing to see pests crawling over the leaves and soil. It can also be irritating when it comes to identifying them, because there are so many which can all cause different types of damage. Experts at Essential Living explained: “Before you can effectively get rid of houseplant pests, you need to know which one you’re dealing with.

“There are six common houseplant bugs, and they all have unique looks and cause different types of damage.”

1. Mealybugs

Mealybugs are often mistaken for fungus or mould when it comes to houseplant because they look like cotton or white powder.

They tend to cluster on the stems and leaf joints, or along the veins on the leaves, on both sides.

According to the experts, damage usually includes stunted or deformed new growth of the houseplant.

2. Spider mites

Spider mites are a common pest which can be spotted by fine webbing on the plant. This usually begins on the underside of the leaves, or at the tips of new growth.

To get rid of spider mites, alcohol is effective and it can be sprayed onto the plant which will cause the pests to die off.

The experts said: “The damage causes normally deformed, dead and dried out leaves, or the leaves and flower buds start dropping.”

3. Whiteflies

Whiteflies, which are small white flies on houseplants, tend to lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves, which means this type of pest can cause owners to not even realise they are there.

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According to the pros, the population of this pest can rapidly be increasing without Britons noticing. They noted: “Damage from whiteflies will cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop the plant.”

3. Fungus gnats

This type of pest is often the most common and they are often more visible than other types of insects. They are little black gnats which fly around the houseplant.

They can also crawl around the soil which means the population can be difficult to control. The experts added: “Whilst they don’t cause a great deal of damage, they can be extremely annoying.”

4. Aphids

Aphids are typically known to live on outdoor plants and they can “badly wreck them” unless they get under control as soon as they are noticed.

This type of pest are sap-sucking which can cause distorted growth and often excrete a sticky substance.

According to the experts at Essential Living, they are visible outside in spring and summer but all year round on indoor plants.

They added: “They easily go unnoticed until the houseplant is completed infested, as you will begin to see fat, small, juicy bugs clustering on new growth and flower buds ranging from different colours including green, brown, blue, orange, red or black.

“Aphids can cause sticky residue and stunted, deformed plant growth.”

5. Scales

Scales are almost impossible to spot, but they tend to look like small bumps on the surface of the leaves in brown, tan or grey shades. The pros said: “Scale insects don’t appear to move at all, but fortunately, they come off easily by scraping gently.”

This type of pest can leave a sticky residue on the leaves so it is important to check leaves regularly and thoroughly.

6. Thrips

The experts continued: “Thrips are the most common pest, however again they aren’t easy to notice. They look like small black bugs with skinny bodies and pointy tails and fortunately don’t have wings, therefore are unable to fly and pester. Eventually, damaged plants will turn brown, and leaves and flower buds could begin dropping.”

When attempting to get rid of pests, it is important to know it may take a while. The first step is to isolate plants from each other to reduce the risk of pests spreading.

Next, take some soap onto a cloth and dab it lightly onto the plant. According to the pros, this will “kill on contact”. 

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