More and more people are becoming fond of indoor plants, and why not? There are so many benefits to having indoor plants. However, caring for them can be tricky, and finding bugs in them can be trickier.
Indoor plants attract bugs when exposed to unfavorable conditions like overwatering, low humidity, and lack of airflow. Common bugs that infest our indoor plants are mealybugs, gnats, spider mites, and whiteflies. Regular inspection and using neem spray occasionally will help prevent bugs.
Mealybugs, spider mites, scales, aphids, etc., are common bugs you will find on your houseplant.
In this article, we will discuss why indoor plants attract bugs and how to deal with some common bugs. So, keep reading.
Table Of Contents
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Do houseplants attract bugs?
Yes, indoor plants attract bugs under different conditions.
Although the chances of bug infestation are more for outdoor plants, indoor plants can also be at risk.
There can be various reasons behind indoor plants becoming prone to bug infestations.
Let’s understand them.
One common reason behind bug infestations on houseplants is overwatering.
No plants will enjoy being overwatered.
When you overwater your houseplants, the soil remains soggy for an extended period.
Overwatering affects the roots, which directly hampers the plant’s health and growth.
This condition is ideal for bugs like mealybugs, aphids, and scales.
An overwatered plant is already weak, and bugs will make the plant weaker by sucking away all the moisture and nutrients.
2. High humidity
Plants that hail from tropical and sub-tropical regions love high humidity levels, but they don’t enjoy too much of it!
Many pests enjoy high humid conditions as dry conditions suck out the moisture from them, and so, they die out of dryness.
Although you can keep your plants in humid conditions, ensure you don’t overwater them or block the airflow around them.
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3. Lack of airflow
Plants need proper airflow to stay healthy and away from bug infestations.
The pests will thrive if the plants don’t have good airflow around them.
Don’t place your plants in rooms or spaces that don’t have doors or windows.
Lack of airflow can occur if you keep the plants too close.
Grouping plants can greatly increase the humidity levels, but the airflow will get blocked if the plants are too close.
Don’t worry; that doesn’t mean you can’t group the plants.
You need to ensure that the plants don’t touch each other.
4. Low humidity
Bugs like spider mites prefer dry conditions, so if your plants are not getting enough humidity, they will become the ideal breeding ground for spider mites.
Low humidity is not ideal for tropical plants as they need average to high humidity levels to thrive.
Low humidity will not only invite spider mites but also make the plant unhealthy.
Also read: 11 Ways To Increase Humidity Indoors For Plants
5. Exposure to new plants
Another common reason behind bug infestation on plants is exposure to new plants.
When you bring new plants home, they might have bugs.
You should always keep your plants in isolation after bringing them home.
You can move them with your other plants once you are sure that the new plants don’t have bugs.
Common bugs on indoor plants
Let’s take a look at some common houseplant bugs and how you can deal with them.
Mealybugs are one of the most common bugs you might discover on your houseplants.
These are tiny white bugs that look like small cotton balls.
Mealybugs feed on the plant’s sap and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew which can give rise to sooty mold.
You will find the mealybugs in groups, which hide on the undersides of leaves.
If you suspect mealybug infestation on your houseplant, you will notice:
- Yellow leaves
- Damaged leaves
- Stunted growth
- Sticky leaves
- Falling leaves
How to get rid of mealybugs?
Try these if you want to remove the mealybugs from your plant:
- Give the plant a good wash or shower and try to remove as many bugs as possible.
- Get an insecticidal soap and spray it on the plant.
- Create a Neem oil solution by mixing Neem oil and water. Spray it on the affected areas of the plant.
- Take a cotton ball, dip it in rubbing alcohol, and wipe the affected areas.
- If nothing else works, get a synthetic pesticide from the market that is created to remove mealybugs.
2. Spider mites
Spider mites are very tiny bugs that are hard to spot.
If your plant has a spider mite infestation, you will notice thin webbings around the plant.
Spider mites spread fast and cause much damage before you even spot them.
Spider mites feed all the plant’s sap and pierce the leaves.
They hide underneath the leaves.
Some common signs of spider mite infestation are:
- Yellow leaves
- Falling leaves
- Holes in leaves
- Stunted growth
- Weak plant
How to get rid of spider mites?
Use the following to remove spider mites from your plant:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing soap with 1 liter of lukewarm water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray it all over the plant.
- Mix 1 part alcohol with three parts water and spray it on the infested parts. Spray this on the undersides of the leaves.
- Get an insecticidal soap and spray it on the plant or dab it on the infected areas.
Aphids are tiny bugs that attach themselves to the plants and suck the sap out of them.
They release a sticky substance called honeydew which makes the leaves and stems sticky.
These reproduce fast and increase in numbers very quickly.
Some signs of aphid infestation are:
- Yellow leaves
- Distorted leaves
- Falling leaves
How to remove aphids?
If you want to remove aphids, try these out:
- Start by handpicking the aphids. Don’t forget to wear gloves.
- You can also spray water on the plant to dislodge the aphids.
- Prepare a Neem oil solution and spray it all over the plant.
- You can also mix any essential oil like rosemary, mint, or peppermint with water and spray it all over the infested parts of the plant.
Scale is found in two varieties: soft and armored.
Soft scales are easier to remove, but armored scales have a hard coating over their bodies, making them hard to kill.
You will notice brown bumps on the leaves if your plant has scales.
These pierce the foliage of your plant and suck the sap out.
Soft scales secrete a lot of honeydew on the leaves and stems.
Some signs of scale infestation are:
- Yellow spots on leaves
- Wilting leaves
- Yellow leaves
- Brown lumps on leaves
- Stunted growth
How to remove scales?
If you find scales on your houseplants, try to eliminate them immediately.
- If the scales have not spread much, try removing them with a gentle stream of water. Dispose of the scales in soapy water to kill them.
- There can be chances of sooty mold since scales secrete honeydew, so wipe the leaves and stems.
- Prune the heavily infested parts with a sharp and sterilized pruner and dispose of them.
- Get an insecticidal soap and apply it all over the plant.
- You can also try the effective Neem oil solution and spray it all over the plant.
5. Fungus gnats
Fungus gnats are easy to detect as you will find them buzzing around your indoor plants.
These might not damage the plants as much as the other bugs we discussed, but these can become a problem if you don’t do anything to eliminate them.
The larvae of the fungus gnats feed on the roots, which can be highly damaging for your plants.
These can reach your plants from the windows or doors, or balconies.
How to remove fungus gnats?
The following ways can help you remove fungus gnats from your plants.
- Get yellow sticky cards from the market and hang them from the branches of the plants or place them over the potting soil. The yellow color will attract the gnats and get stuck to the cards. You can then throw them away.
- Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 4 parts water and use it to water the potting soil. This will kill all the larvae. However, you might need to try this more than once. Don’t use this method if the potting soil is already wet. Allow the soil to dry first.
- Since Neem oil or dish soap is not too effective on fungus gnats, you can get an insecticide from the market and apply it to your plant.
- If the larvae have spread over the soil, you can repot the plant with a fresh potting mix and discard the old soil.
Thrips are tiny bugs with fringed wings.
These feed on the sap of the plants like most bugs.
Thrips can highly damage your plants.
Some signs of thrips infestation are:
- Spots on leaves
- Pale leaves
How to remove thrips?
Use these to remove thrips from the plants:
- Wash the plants with a hose to remove these bugs.
- Mix 2 tsp. Dish soap with a gallon of water and spray it all over the plant.
- Create a Neem oil solution and spray it on the plant. This might not work very well to remove all the thrips.
- Use pyrethrin or pyrethroid pesticide on the affected plant.
These are flying bugs that feed on the plant’s sap.
These prefer warm conditions and can populate fast if they get the ideal conditions.
If you shake the infested plant, they will fly out of the plant.
How to eliminate whiteflies?
Use these to get rid of whiteflies:
- Get a vacuum cleaner and suck these up. Then, put them into a plastic bag and seal the bag. Then you can throw the bag away.
- Use sharp and sterilized pruners to remove the heavily infested parts.
- Mix dish soap with water and spray it on the plant. This will kill the adult whiteflies.
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Which plants don’t attract bugs?
Here are 10 plants that are more bug resistant than other plants:
- Chinese evergreen
- Snake plant
- Jade plant
- Cast iron palm
- Grape ivy
- Venus flytrap
Which plants are prone to bugs?
You can keep plants prone to bugs healthy and happy if you provide the ideal conditions.
Since these plants need high humidity, the chances of bugs attacking them are higher:
- Peace lily
How to prevent pests on indoor plants?
If you want to prevent bugs, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t expose the plant to unfavorable conditions like overwatering, low humidity, lack of airflow, etc.
- Spray a Neem oil solution every 2 weeks to keep the bugs away.
- Never use old soil while repotting your plants.
- Always remove dead and diseased parts whenever you notice them on your plant.
- Keep an eye on your plant so you can catch the bugs in the initial stage and get rid of them before they can spread.
- Whenever you bring a new plant, isolate it and check if there are any bugs on it. Once you are sure that the plant is bug-free, move it together with the other houseplants.
Also read: How To Get Rid Of Bugs On Indoor Plants?
Ref: Common insect pests and diseases, The Pennsylvania State University, Mississippi State University, Clemson University Cooperative Extension, University of Minnesota.
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