Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests (2023)

When a houseplant looks less than healthy, most often, it is the result of improper care. Factors such as too much or too little water, light, heat, or fertilizer can cause many plant problems. However, in some cases, the problem results from a pest infestation. Several insects and other pests feed on houseplants. These pests most often come into the home on newly purchased plants or on those that have been outside for the summer.

Prevention

The best way to control insects and related pests on houseplants is through prevention, as it is almost always easier to prevent a pest infestation than to eliminate one. Several precautions can be taken, which will decrease the chances of dealing with a pest infestation of most houseplants.

  • Provide a plant with the growing conditions that it needs so that it is more likely to grow vigorously. Stressed plants tend to be more susceptible to pests.
  • Before buying or bringing a plant indoors, always check it and its container for signs of pests.
  • A plant that has been outside for the summer, especially one sitting on the ground, may have pests that have crawled in through the drainage holes. First, take the plant out of the pot to examine the soil. Most pests are found on the exterior of the rootball.
  • Isolate new plants from plants already in the home for six weeks to ensure that any pest brought in will be less likely to spread.
  • While plants are isolated, carefully examine them for signs of pests or damage on a regular basis of about once a week. Pay particular attention to the undersides of leaves, where pests are most often found. Using a 10X magnifying lens will make it easier to see small pests and also immature pest stages. Infestations are often much easier to control if caught early.
  • When repotting a plant, use commercially prepared potting soil rather than soil from outdoors, which can be a source of pests.
  • Washing smooth-leaved plants every two to three weeks discourages pest infestations and also improves the appearance of the foliage. Small plants can be inverted, and the foliage swished in a bucket of tepid (lukewarm) water. To prevent loss of soil, cover it with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Large plants can be hosed down gently, or upper and lower surfaces of leaves can be wiped with a soft, wet cloth. Large plants can also be rinsed in a tepid shower.
  • Since cut flowers from the garden can be a source of pests, keep them separate from houseplants.
  • Pests of houseplants can enter homes from outdoors, so make sure that screens and doors fit well.

Non-Chemical Control

The first step in control is to isolate any plant suspected of being infested with a pest. Then, keep the plant separate from other houseplants until the pest is completely controlled. This process may take several weeks or more.

Before looking for a chemical solution to a pest problem on houseplants, several effective control alternatives should be considered. However, do not expect the problem to be solved with one application. Some of these alternatives require persistence on the part of the indoor gardener, but they can give good control.

  • If only an isolated portion of the plant is infested, as occurs with leafminers, remove and destroy the infested parts. If the roots are infested, take a cutting and start a new plant. Be sure to start with a clean pot and sterile potting soil.
  • Early infestations can often be removed by handpicking.
  • Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe off insects such as aphids and mealybugs. Scale insects may need to be scraped off with a fingernail.
  • Spraying a sturdy plant with water will remove many pests. Be sure to spray all plant surfaces. Repeated water sprays help control spider mites.
  • Spraying the plant with insecticidal soap can often eliminate a pest infestation in its early stages. Insecticidal soaps are contact insecticides and are only effective when they make direct contact with insects. Once the soap solution dries, it has no effect against pests. Insecticidal soaps are most effective against soft-bodied insects and related pests, such as aphids, mealybugs, immature scales (crawlers), thrips, whiteflies, and spider mites. Since pests may be hidden or in the egg stage, eliminating them often takes more than one treatment. See Table 1 for examples of products and additional comments about insecticidal soap sprays.
  • If the plant is severely damaged and not valuable, the best and simplest solution may be to discard the plant and its soil and start with a new plant.

Chemical Control

If non-chemical control methods have failed and the plant is valuable, a stronger pesticide may be necessary. Before choosing a pesticide, it is important to identify the pest accurately. In general, a single pesticide will not kill all kinds of pests. Some pesticides are only effective against certain pests or certain life stages of particular pests. In addition, it is important to understand that more than one application of a pesticide is often necessary for control. When possible, alternate the pesticide used from one application to the next as some pests develop resistance quickly.

Houseplant insect sprays can be obtained at garden centers and farm supply stores. Only a few pesticides are labeled for use indoors on houseplants. Before using a pesticide indoors, be sure that the label specifies that use. You may want to treat your plant outdoors and then bring it inside after the pesticide has dried completely. If you take plants outdoors to treat, make sure that weather conditions are mild. Spraying insecticides outdoors prevents over-spray from contacting furniture, drapes, or carpet.

Typically, a pesticide label will include both a list of plants for which the pesticide is recommended, as well as a list of plants that are known to be sensitive to the pesticide. Symptoms of pesticide injury on plants include distortion of leaves and buds, yellowing of leaves, spotting of leaves or flowers, burn along the leaf edges, and total burn. When damage occurs, it often becomes visible within 5 to 10 days, sometimes sooner. In general, the damage does not kill the plant.

As always, before purchasing and using any pesticide, be sure to read all label directions and precautions and then follow them carefully.

Major Pests

Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests (1)

Aphid adults (winged adult in the center) and immatures.
Alton N. Sparks, Jr., University of Georgia, www.insectimages.org

Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects about 1/16– to ⅛-inch long. They are usually green but may be pink, brown, black, or yellow. Some aphids have a woolly or powdery appearance because of a waxy coat. Adults may or may not have wings.

Aphids are usually found feeding on new growth or the undersides of leaves. Some feed on roots. They suck plant sap, resulting in yellowing and misshapen leaves. In addition, growth may be stunted, and new buds deformed. As aphids feed, they excrete a sugary material, called honeydew, which makes leaves shiny and sticky. Sooty mold fungi may grow on the honeydew, producing unsightly dark splotches on the plant’s surfaces.

Control: With minor infestations, handpicking, spraying with water, or wiping the insects with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol may be practical. Insecticidal soap spray may also be used. In most cases, the treatment will have to be repeated multiple times. For houseplants that are taken outdoors, spray with insecticidal soap, neem oil extract, pyrethrins, imidacloprid, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or lambda cyhalothrin to control aphids. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. Imidacloprid granules put onto the soil will also control aphids. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

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Mealybug nymph.
US National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs Archive, USDA ARS, www.insectimages.org

Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, pale insects related to scales. They are about ⅛ to ¼ inch long and move very sluggishly. The adult females cover themselves and their eggs with a white, waxy material, making them look cottony. Some have waxy filaments that extend beyond their bodies.

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Nymphs (immature forms) hatch from the eggs. Once they begin to feed, the waxy coating starts to form. Nymphs look like adults, only smaller. The wax on mealybugs helps repel pesticides and makes them somewhat difficult to control. Mealybugs are most commonly found on the lower surfaces of leaves and in leaf axils (where the leaf attaches to the stem). One species feeds on the roots. They suck plant sap, causing stunted and distorted growth and sometimes plant death. Like aphids, mealybugs excrete honeydew, providing the opportunity for the growth of sooty mold fungi.

Control: Light infestations can be controlled by removing individual mealybugs by hand or by wiping each insect with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. An insecticidal soap spray may also be used. With a heavy infestation, it may be necessary to discard the plant. For houseplants that are outdoors, spray with neem oil extract, pyrethrins, acetamiprid, imidacloprid, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or lambda cyhalothrin to control mealybugs. Imidacloprid granules put onto the soil will also control mealybugs. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

Spider Mites: Mites are not insects but are more closely related to spiders. Since they are extremely small, plant damage is typically the first sign of their presence. A silky web is often seen with heavier infestations.

Both spider mite adults and their immature forms damage plants by sucking plant sap. Damage includes light-colored speckling on the upper surface of leaves and results in a plant with an overall faded look. If the mites are left unchecked, leaves become bronzed or yellowed, and the plant dies. Spider mites are usually more of a problem on houseplants that remain indoors year-round, especially palms and English ivy.

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Two-spotted spider mite adult.
David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Control: Spray sturdy plants forcefully with water, including the undersides of leaves, to dislodge mites and break up their webs. Plants also can be sprayed with insecticidal soap. For houseplants that are outdoors, spray with insecticidal soap, neem oil extract, or an insecticide containing sulfur. It is often necessary to spray once a week for several weeks to control mites. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

Plants placed outdoors during summer may have a reduced problem with spider mites. Be sure to place all houseplants initially in mostly shade, as even plants that grow well in more sun might be burned until they have adapted to the higher light levels.

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Fungus gnat adult.
Johnny N. Dell, Retired, www.insectimages.org

Fungus Gnats: Adult fungus gnats are delicate in appearance and about 1/8-inch long. Often they can be seen running across or flying near the soil surface under a houseplant. They are weak flyers and are attracted to light.

The adults do not feed on houseplants but can be a nuisance to people.In severe infestations, they are often seen in large numbers on nearby windows.

The whitish larvae (immature forms) of fungus gnats have shiny black heads and can grow as large as ¼-inch. The larvae generally feed on decaying organic material or fungi growing in the soil. The larvae of some species will also feed on roots. This feeding is especially damaging to very young plants. With older, established plants, the initial sign of an infestation is that the plant loses its normal healthy appearance. A heavily infested plant may lose leaves because of the feeding of larvae on its roots.

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Indoors, fungus gnats are most often a problem when potting soil that is rich in organic matter, such as peat moss, is used to grow plants. It is especially a problem when overwatering occurs.

Control: For plants that can tolerate it (i.e., most houseplants, especially during winter), allow the soil to dry between watering. Dry conditions will kill the larvae. Do not allow water to stand in the saucer beneath houseplant containers, and invert saucers beneath plants outside to not collect rainwater. Products that contain strains of the biological control agent Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis can be applied to the soil of houseplants and watered into the soil for control. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. Follow label directions for safe use.

Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests (6)

Pill bug (Armadillidium vulgare).
Joseph Berger, USDA, ARS, Bugwood.org

Root Ball Pests: Houseplants taken outdoors during the summer may have their root balls infested with pillbugs, millipedes, and slugs. These houseplant pests may cause minor feeding damage to root systems. They are generally found along the exterior of the root ball in small cavities carved from the potting mix. Ants may also make nests within the potting soil of houseplants while outside.

Control: The plant container can be gently removed to inspect for pillbugs, millipedes, and slugs, which simply can be scraped away. Ant colonies in the container may be killed by soil drenches of products containing cyfluthrin or lambda cyhalothrin. Mix insecticide concentrates at the same rate as for spraying, and pour the solution through the soil in the container. Allow pots to thoroughly drain and dry before bringing indoors. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

Scales: Several species of scales are pests on houseplants. Scale insects can be divided into two groups: armored scales and soft scales. An armored scale secretes a waxy covering that is not an integral part of its body. The covering can be scraped off to locate the insect living beneath it. In contrast, the waxy covering that a soft scale secretes is an integral part of its body.

Scales are unusual insects in appearance. Adults are small and immobile with no visible legs. Scales vary in appearance depending on age, sex, and species. Some are flat and appear like fish scales stuck to a plant. Others look like waxy, colored masses. They range in size from 1/16– to ½-inch in diameter. They are usually found on stems and the undersides of leaves but may be found on upper surfaces as well. Scales feed by sucking plant sap.

Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests (8)

Example of a soft scale.
US National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs Archive, USDA ARS, Bugwood.org

Their immature forms, called crawlers, are mobile, and they also feed by sucking plant sap. Like mealybugs, the soft scale insects excrete honeydew (which results in black sooty mold problems on foliage and stems). Armored scales do not excrete honeydew.

Control: Early infestations of scales can be removed by scraping with a fingernail. Adult scales are relatively protected from insecticides by their waxy covering. However, for houseplants outdoors, sprays with products containing neem oil extract or canola oil help control adult scale insects by smothering. Their crawlers are susceptible to many insecticides, such as insecticidal soap, neem oil extract, canola oil, pyrethrins, acetamiprid, imidacloprid, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or lambda cyhalothrin. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests (9)

Sweetpotato whitefly.
Central Science Laboratory, Harpenden Archive, British Crown, www.insectimages.org

(Video) Houseplant pests: treating aphids, mealybugs, scale, thrips, whiteflies, and spider mites

Whiteflies: Whiteflies are not true flies but are more closely related to scales, mealybugs, and aphids. They are very small, about 1/10– to 1/16 -inch long. They have a powdery white appearance and resemble tiny moths. When at rest, the wings are held at an angle, roof-like over the body. The immature stage is scale-like and does not move.

Both the adults and their immature forms feed by sucking plant sap. The damage that they cause is similar to that caused by aphids. The infested plant may be stunted. Leaves turn yellow and die. Like aphids, whiteflies excrete honeydew, which makes leaves shiny and sticky and encourages the growth of sooty mold fungi. When plants that are infested with whiteflies are disturbed, the whiteflies flutter around for a while before settling again.

Control: Wash the plant. Spray the plant thoroughly with insecticidal soap, especially the lower leaf surfaces. Imidacloprid granules put onto the soil will also control whiteflies. For houseplants that are taken outdoors, spray with insecticidal soap, neem oil extract, acetamiprid, imidacloprid, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or lambda cyhalothrin to control whiteflies. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

Less Common Pests

Thrips: Thrips are tiny, slender, yellowish to blackish insects with fringed wings. They are typically found on leaves and between flower petals. At less than 1/16 inch in length, the adults are very difficult to see without a magnifying lens. Blowing lightly into blooms and leaves causes thrips to move around quickly, making them easier to see.

Both adults and nymphs (immature stage) feed by scraping surface cells to suck plant sap. Leaves fed on by thrips will often take on a silvery or speckled appearance similar to damage caused by mites. Leaves may drop early. When thrips feed on flower buds, the flower may die without opening. Flowers may be streaked or distorted because of feeding.

Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests (10)

Thrips.
Andrew Derksen, University of Florida, Bugwood.org

Control: Rinse leaves with water. Spray plants with insecticidal soap. For houseplants that are outdoors, spray foliage with spinosad, acetamiprid, imidacloprid, cyfluthrin, deltamethin, or lambda cyhalothrin to control thrips. For plants with flower buds infested with thrips, the insecticide must have systemic activity, such as spinosad, acetamiprid, or imidacloprid, in order to control the hidden thrips.

Imidacloprid granules put onto the soil are also effective. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

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Springtail.
Susan Ellis, www.insectimages.org

Springtails: Springtails are tiny insects about 1/5- inch long that inhabit the soil. They vary in color but are usually white or black. They are wingless but can jump. Their presence is usually a sign of overwatering.

While springtails normally feed on decaying organic matter, they will chew on seedlings or tender plant parts. Damage is usually minimal. In large numbers, they can be a nuisance.

Control: For plants that can tolerate it (most plants), let the soil dry between watering.

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Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests (12)

Leafminer damage.
John A. Weidhass, Virginia Tech, www.insectimages.org

Leafminers: Leafminers are the larvae (immature worm-like stage) of a large number of different insects. The larvae feed between the upper and lower leaf surfaces. Leafminer damage appears as a winding, discolored trail or an irregular blotch within the leaf. Although damage from these pests is unsightly, it is rarely serious.

Control: Remove and destroy any leaves showing leafminer damage. For houseplants that are outdoors, insecticidal sprays that have foliar systemic activity (the ability to move into the leaves), such as acetamiprid, imidacloprid, or spinosad will control leafminers. Imidacloprid granules put onto the soil are also effective. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

Beetles: Various kinds of beetles and their larvae feed on houseplants. They may enter the home when houseplants are brought inside at the end of summer, or they may enter through some opening. They have chewing mouthparts.

Control: Remove and destroy the beetles. If houseplants are outside and beetles return and feed on foliage, spray with neem oil extract, acetamiprid, imidacloprid, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or lambda cyhalothrin to control them for one to two weeks. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

Caterpillars: Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths. They range in size from about ⅛ inch to 2 or more inches long. Their color varies according to species, with gray, brown, and green being common, as are mottled and striped colors. They may be smooth or have spines, hairs, or bumps along their bodies.

Butterflies and moths lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves of plants that have been outdoors. Stray moths that have gotten into the home can also lay eggs on houseplants. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars can be quite small but grow with each molt (process of shedding the skin).

Caterpillars have chewing mouthparts. Some feed openly on leaves, buds, and flowers and can eat large portions of the plant in a relatively short period of time. Others bore into stems to feed.

A good indication that caterpillars are causing the damage is the presence of frass (fecal pellets) on leaves and under the plant.

Control: Remove and destroy caterpillars and eggs. If the houseplants are outside and additional caterpillar feeding occurs, spray with neem oil extract, spinosad, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or lambda cyhalothrin to control them for one to two weeks. See Table 1 for examples of brands and products. See footnote on Table 1 about spraying houseplants outdoors. Follow label directions for safe use.

General Caution for Outdoor Spraying Pollinating insects, such as honey bees and bumblebees, can be adversely affected by the use of pesticides. Avoid the use of spray pesticides (both insecticides and fungicides), as well as soil-applied, systemic insecticides unless absolutely necessary. If spraying is required, always spray late in the evening to reduce the direct impact on pollinating insects. Always try less toxic alternative sprays first for the control of insect pests and diseases. For example, sprays with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, neem oil extract, spinosad, Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.), or botanical oils can help control many small insect pests and mites that affect garden and landscape plants. Neem oil extract or botanical oil sprays may also reduce plant damage by repelling many insect pests. Practice cultural techniques to prevent or reduce the incidence of plant diseases, including pre-plant soil improvement, proper plant spacing, crop rotation, applying mulch, applying lime and fertilizer based on soil test results, and avoiding overhead irrigation and frequent watering of established plants. Additionally, there are less toxic spray fungicides that contain sulfur or copper soap and biological control sprays for plant diseases that contain Bacillus subtilis. However, it is very important to always read and follow the label directions on each product. For more information, contact the Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center.

Table 1. Pesticides to Control Insects & Spider Mites on Houseplants

Insecticide/Miticide Active IngredientPests ControlledExamples of Brands & Products
Natural, Less Toxic Insecticides
Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis

H-14

Fungus gnat larvae in potting soilGardens Alive Knock-Out Gnats Granules
Insecticidal Soap1Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, scale crawlers, whitefliesBonide Insecticidal Soap RTU (Ready to Use)
Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer RTU
Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap RTU
Espoma Organic Insect Soap RTU
Whitney Farms Insecticidal Soap RTU
Natria Insecticidal Soap RTU
Miracle Gro Nature’s Care Insecticidal Soap RTU
Sulfur & PyrethrinsSpider mites, scale crawlersWhitney Farms 3-in-1 Rose & Flower Care
Bonide Captain Jack’s Tomato & Vegetable 3 in 1 RTU
Bonide Captain Jack’s Tomato & Vegetable 3 in 1 RTU
Bonide Eight Insect Control Home & Garden RTU
Ortho Insect, Mite & Disease 3-in-1 RTU
Natria Rose & Flower Insect, Disease & Mite Control RTU
Natria Insect, Disease & Mite Control RTU
Neem Oil ExtractAphids, spider mites, mealybugs, scale (adults & crawlers), whitefliesNatural Guard Neem RTU
Garden Safe Fungicide 3 RTU
Monterey Neem Oil RTU
Safer Brand Neem Oil RTU
Bonide Neem Oil RTU
Canola Oil & PyrethrinsAphids, spider mites, mealybugs, scale (adults & crawlers), whitefliesEspoma Organic Insect Control RTU
Monterey Take Down Garden Spray RTU
Gardens Alive Pyola Insect Spray RTU
Cottonseed Oil, Clove Oil, & Garlic OilSpider mites, thrips, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, scale crawlersBonide Mite-X RTU
Rosemary Oil, Clove Oil, & Cottonseed OilSpider mites, whiteflies, aphids, scale crawlers, mealybugs,Monterey All Natural Mite & Insect Control RTU
SpinosadThrips, caterpillars, leafminersBonide Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew RTU
Spinosad & Insecticidal SoapAphids, leafminers, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, whiteflies, scale crawlers, caterpillarsNatural Guard Spinosad Soap RTU
Monterey Garden Insect Spray RTU
PyrethrinsAphids, whitefliesBonide Japanese Beetle Killer RTU
Garden Safe House Plant & Garden Insect Killer RTU
Garden Safe Rose & Flower Insect Killer RTU
Garden Safe Multi-purpose Garden Insect Killer RTU
Pyrethrin & Neem oilAphids, spider mites, whiteflies, mealybugsFerti-Lome Triple Action Plus RTU
Gardens Alive Shield-All Plus Concentrate
Bonide Bon-Neem II RTU
Hot Pepper Wax Aphids, mealybugsNeptune’s Harvest Hot Pepper Wax Insect Repellent RTU
Rubbing AlcoholMealybugs, aphids, whiteflies, scale crawlersMultiple brands (applied with cotton swabs, such as Q-Tips)
Contact & Systemic Insecticides (spray outdoors)
AcetamipridScale crawlers & soft scale adults, aphids, mealybugs, thrips, leaf miners, whiteflies, beetlesOrtho Rose & Flower Insect Killer RTU
CyfluthrinScale crawlers, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, beetles, caterpillarsBayer BioAdvanced Rose & Flower Insect Killer RTU
ImidaclopridScale crawlers, aphids, mealybugs, thrips, leaf miners, whiteflies, beetles (will not control caterpillars)Bayer Advanced 3-in-1 Insect Disease & Mite Control RTU (w/TAU-Fluvalinate & Tebuconazole)
Hi Yield Systemic Insect Granules
Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control Granules
Imidacloprid & CyfluthrinScale crawlers, aphids, mealybugs, thrips, leaf miners, whiteflies, beetles, caterpillarsBayer Advanced Dual Action Rose & Flower Insect Killer RTU
DeltamethrinAphids, beetles, mealybugs, whiteflies, caterpillarsOrtho Insect Killer Rose & Flower RTU
Lambda CyhalothrinScale crawlers, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, beetles, caterpillarsBonide Eight Insect Control Garden & Home II RTU
1 Notes on insecticidal soap: Some houseplants, including ornamental ivy, maidenhair fern, dieffenbachia, schefflera, crown of thorns, chrysanthemum, Easter lilies (during bud formation), Asiatic or oriental lilies, jade plant, begonia, fuchsia, zebra plant, impatiens, and certain palms, are sensitive to insecticidal soap, and it should not be applied to them. In addition, insecticidal soap should never be applied to houseplants outdoors in direct sunlight or to plants under drought stress. For other plants, test insecticidal soap, or any other insecticide, first on a small part of the plant before treating the entire plant. Symptoms of injury may take at least 48 hours to appear.

General Note: Spraying of houseplants is most safely done outdoors in the shade and during mild temperatures. Once plant foliage is completely dry, it may be brought back indoors.

RTU = Ready to use product in a small pre-mixed spray bottle.

Pesticides are updated annually. Last updates were done on 9/21 Joey Williamson.

Originally published 12/07

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

FAQs

How do I identify bugs on my plants? ›

Changes in leaf color or texture can signal an insect problem. Leaves may become spotted, speckled or yellowed when insects are present. Leaves might also become distorted or misshapen, often looking cupped or pinched. You may spot webbing draped along leaf undersides or where leaves attach to stems.

What are the worst houseplant pests? ›

Here we detail some of the worst house plant pests and how to tackle them indoors.
  • Aphids. (Photo by Jared Belson) ...
  • White Flies. Whiteflies on a leaf underside. ...
  • Spider Mites. A top view of two-spotted spider mite damage. ...
  • Mealybugs. A mealybug infestation on croton.

What are the little bugs flying around my indoor plants? ›

Have you seen little bugs fluttering up from your houseplants' pots whenever you water? Known as fungus gnats, they're actually tiny flies, about 1/8-inch long, drawn to moist potting soil and decaying leaves on the surface of the soil around your plants.

What are the five common insects that causes damages to plants? ›

7.1 Major pests
  • 7.1.1 Fruit borers. ...
  • 7.1.2 Fruit-piercing moths. ...
  • 7.1.3 Leaf-feeding caterpillars. ...
  • 7.1.4 Leafrollers. ...
  • 7.1.5 Beetle borers. ...
  • 7.1.6 Scarab beetles. ...
  • 7.1.7 Soft scales. ...
  • 7.1.8 Bugs.

What are these tiny bugs on my plants? ›

Aphids. These are the tiny pear-shaped insects that you've probably seen outside in the vegetable plot. They can find their way onto indoor plants, too, and like to cluster around new leaves and flower buds. They suck the sap from the plant and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew.

What do houseplant mites look like? ›

The first thing you're likely to notice is patterns of silvery dots or stippling on the leaves of your plant. Looking closer, you will see small, delicate webs in corners of stems or underneath leaves with what look like tiny white dots scattered throughout. Those are spider mites!

What are the top 3 pests that cause damage? ›

3 Pests That Can Cause Structural Damage To Your Home
  • Powderpost Beetles. Powderpost beetles are so named because of the fine, powdery waste their larvae leave behind after feeding on the wood they inhabit. ...
  • Termites. Termites cause $5 billion in structural damage in the United States every year. ...
  • Carpenter Ants.
19 Feb 2016

What are some common pest or disease found in potted plants? ›

Pests commonly found on houseplants. Aphids — small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the branch tips and underside of leaves. They cause distorted new growth on plants such as ivy, herbs and hibiscus. Mealybugs — appear white and "cottony" and are found on stems, leaves and roots of plants.

What do thrips look like? ›

Thrips appear to be tiny dark slivers on your plants. It is hard to see their bodies well without a magnifying glass, but up close, they look a bit like lobsters. Shake them onto a white background in order to see them well.

What are the tiny black bugs on my houseplants? ›

By far the most common types of houseplant bugs are fungus gnats (also known as soil gnats). They are those annoying little black gnats that you'll see flying around houseplants, and crawling in the soil.

What are soil mites? ›

Soil mites are anthropods that feed off decaying organic matter. There are many different species of mites, but the most common ones are called Oribatid mites. These tiny little mites are found almost everywhere on the planet, including Antarctica! These tiny creatures are scavengers that are about 0.2-1mm long.

What do fungus gnats look like? ›

What do fungus gnats look like? Adult fungus gnats are very small; adults only grow to be 1/8th of an inch in length; they have a black or dark gray slender body, long legs, and long antennae. They also have a distinctive y-shaped pattern on their smokey colored wings.

What are the 10 common plant diseases? ›

Here Are 10 Common Plant Diseases In North America:
  • Blight. Blight is easily recognizable by the sudden death of all plant tissue including leaves, stems, and flowers. ...
  • Canker. Canker is identifiable by a dead area on the stem that is often discolored.
  • Gall. ...
  • Leaf Curl. ...
  • Leaf Spot. ...
  • Powdery Mildew. ...
  • Root Rot. ...
  • Wilt.
8 Feb 2019

What are the 3 harmful insects? ›

The most notable dangerous insects are:
  • The Asian Giant Hornet. These hornets, which are native to Eastern Asia, can grow to be up to 2 inches long with a stinger of 1/4 inch in length. ...
  • Fire Ant. ...
  • Deer Tick. ...
  • Puss Caterpillar. ...
  • Mosquito. ...
  • Helminths. ...
  • Assassin Caterpillar. ...
  • Human Botfly.
22 Aug 2014

What are the four major pests? ›

Pests can be broken into four main categories
  • Vertebrate Pests. Have a backbone. Examples: Rodents, birds, reptiles, and other mammals.
  • Invertebrate Pests. No backbone. Examples: Insets, spiders, ticks, slugs.
  • Weeds. Any plant growing out of place.
  • Diseases. Fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.
30 Jun 2022

What are two common household pests? ›

Common household pests include rodents such as mice and rats, bats, pigeons and insects such as bedbugs, house flies, fleas and food beetles.

What are the top 5 pests we need to look out for? ›

Pest infestations are the worst.
...
List: Top 5 Pests We Love to Hate
  • Bed Bugs. ...
  • Cockroaches. ...
  • House Flies. ...
  • Lice. ...
  • Mosquitoes.

What does a bud mite look like? ›

Citrus bud mites are about 1/100 inch (0.25 mm) long and a magnification of at least 20× is needed to see them. They are carrot or wedge shaped, tapering toward the rear. Adults and nymphs have 4 legs at the front (wider) end near the mouth. Their coloration is pale green, pinkish, or yellowish.

What are the little bugs that look like leaves? ›

Stick Insects

The stick insect is a Phasmid - insects that eat leaves and resemble leaves or sticks. It is a master of disguise and remains still during the day.

Can plant mites get on humans? ›

Yes. Spider mites have mouthparts used for piercing plant cells and therefore occasionally bite humans. However, given their microscopic size, it's unlikely anyone would feel it, although they might note small, red pimply marks on the skin that look like a rash.

What do bulb mites look like? ›

Bulb mites are white with large amber spots, brown legs, and are 0.55 to 0.75 mm long when fully grown. They are slow moving and oval shaped, so are sometimes mistaken for insect eggs. These mites can be found in hollowed out and decomposing portions of bulbs.

What do potting soil mites look like? ›

Potting soil mites make their home, with many family members, in soil. These tiny creatures are about the size of a pinpoint and are very easy to miss. They may appear as little white dots walking along the surface of the soil or along a plant container.

How do I use Google to identify a bug? ›

When it comes to identifying bugs on your own, Google Lens can be a great tool, provided you are able to snap a great photo. You don't have to be a photography expert, but the image should be clear, close, and the insect needs to be visible against the background.

Can I take a picture of a bug to identify it? ›

Picture insect is an easy-to-use insect identifier tool that utilizes AI technology. Simply take a photo of an insect or upload one from your phone gallery, and the app will tell you all about it in a second.

Is there an app to identify bugs on plants? ›

Seek. Created by iNaturalist, Seek not only identifies insects but wildlife, plants, and fungi as well. It is a great all-around tool for the budding naturalist.

What is the hardest pest to get rid of? ›

The three most difficult pests to exterminate are:

Termites. Bed Bugs. Cockroaches.

What is the dirtiest pest? ›

Flies are the most common and dirtiest of the restaurant pests. These small bugs can carry billions of harmful microorganisms, including E. coli and Salmonella, which can lead to serious illnesses in humans.

What is the very common plant disease problem? ›

1. Powdery Mildew. Most powdery mildew are very host specific, mildew on cucumbers will not infect roses. Look for white, powdery growth on leaves and shoots.

What do springtails look like? ›

Most springtails are dark-colored, brown, grey or black. Some species maybe white and some are even brightly colored. Springtails do not have wings and cannot fly. But they can jump up to several inches using a special forked structure under the abdomen.

How do I know if my houseplant has thrips? ›

They're so small they can be tough to spot with the naked eye, and instead can sometimes be more easily identified as an animated line moving around the leaf's veins that moves when disturbed. Blotchy reddish brown discoloration can also be an indication that a thrips infestation is present.

What is one of the first signs of a thrips infestation? ›

The first sign of a thrip infestation is gray or dull colored leaves, or leaves with brown spots or stripes. Heavy infestations can cause malformed and stunted growth, as well as leaf or bud drop.

What kind of bug leaves little black dots? ›

actually having a bed bug sighting. Bed bugs will leave black fecal spots (basically dried, digested blood) around the places they're hiding.

What are tiny black specks on plants? ›

Spider Mites

If you notice black spots on your houseplant's leaves, or fallen leaves with a bronze tint, chances are your plant is infested with spider mites. Just like their name suggests, spider mites are arachnids, so they will form tiny webs.

What bug looks like a tiny black speck? ›

Booklice are soft and have two pairs of wings with long antennae. They tend to hop around and you may find these tiny dots appearing on wet and moist spaces including crawl spaces, books, tiles and basement. In fact, there are over 3,000 species of book lice and they are also known as Psocids.

What are turf mites? ›

Lawn mites are very small insects that are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. During dry periods, particularly when mites are found indoors, they are a brick-red color. Spider mites feed on grass roots and blades with their rasping-sucking mouth parts and can damage the grass often to the point of death.

How do I know if I have soil mites? ›

Symptoms include small white or brown mites crawling across the surface of your houseplant's dirt. Soil Mites are often present in continually moist compost or when situated in darker areas of the house with little natural light.

How do I know if I have root aphids? ›

If you see the white powdery or waxy substance left on the outside of the root ball, then it is most likely root aphids. Keep in mind that the waxy white substance looks very much like the same deposits on mealybugs, so examine the roots with a hand lens as both insects look very different.

What kills fungus gnats instantly? ›

Hydrogen Peroxide

A peroxide solution apparently kills larvae and eggs on contact, effectively killing off all infant gnats and disrupting the lifecycle. You should be able to buy hydrogen peroxide from any high street pharmacy or online. Mix 1 part 9% hydrogen peroxide with 6 parts water.

How do I know if my soil has fungus gnats? ›

Fungus gnats lay their eggs in moist soil where the larvae will hatch and feed on small roots, fungus and other organic matter in the soil. They have no interest in fruit. Here's a quick way to tell the difference… If you see tiny black bugs in plant soil, and flying around your plants – those are fungus gnats.

What does a Nat bug look like? ›

Gnats are small, winged insects that are dark brown and have long, thin bodies. They're about a quarter of an inch long. They look like small flies but can't fly well. Fungus gnats, another type of gnat, are black and have long legs.

What is the most common pest in the world? ›

Ants Dominate in Numbers

Ants are pretty much everywhere. Not only are there more ants than humans in this world, but there are so many ants that the weight of all the ants in the world is heavier than the weight of all the humans in the world.

How do you stop indoor plant pests? ›

How to Protect Your Houseplants from Pests
  1. Don't overwater your houseplants. ...
  2. Regularly inspect indoor plants for signs of pests. ...
  3. Quarantine any new plants you bring home to prevent any new pests from spreading. ...
  4. Ensure your indoor plants have good air circulation. ...
  5. Wash your plants occasionally.
25 Jan 2021

What are the 4 common type of pest? ›

  • Ants.
  • Cockroaches.
  • Bed Bugs.
  • Fleas and Ticks.
  • Grain Beetles.
  • Fabric Beetle.
  • Silverfish.

What insects cause the most expensive damage to homes? ›

Known in some circles as home cancer, termites are arguably the most costly pests around today. Treating termites has become so expensive that many insurance companies have actually started offering insurance plans to cover termite damage.

What are the 5 major categories of pests give an example for each? ›

Five Groups of Pests

Arthropods - Insects, Mites, Ticks and Spiders 2. Vertebrates - Animals with backbones 3. Weeds 4. Pathogens - Disease-causing organisms 5.

What is the dirtiest bug? ›

Flies are the most common and dirtiest of the restaurant pests. These small bugs can carry billions of harmful microorganisms, including E. coli and Salmonella, which can lead to serious illnesses in humans.

What are common household insects? ›

Common house insects

When you think of house pests, insects may be the first critters that come to mind. After all, who likes seeing ants or flies infesting their home? Other common house insects include feared pests such as termites, bed bugs and cockroaches.

What are examples of household pests? ›

Ants, mice, termites, roaches…they're all among the creatures that make up beneficial roles in our eco system.

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2. Houseplant 101: Control Houseplant Pests: Thrips, Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Aphids, & More! — Ep 123
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3. Insect Pests: Identifying common plant pests in houseplants [Horticulture 101 Series]
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4. 10 EASY Ways to Prevent Pests on Houseplants! | Solutions for Plant Pests houseplant pests thrips
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5. How To Control Houseplant Pests (Spider Mites, Thrips, Mealybug, Fungus Gnats...)
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