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Do Pothos Attract Bugs? (Gnats, Aphids, etc+How To Deal With It)

Pothos(Devils ivy) behaves abnormally when infested with pests. These pests cause several problems from yellowing leaves, wilting, discoloration, browning, distorted and deformed stems and branches to killing the entire plant. But how do these bugs end up on our pothos? Does pothos attract bugs?

A healthy pothos doesn’t attract bugs. However, if proper conditions are not provided to the plant, then the risk of bug infestation is relatively high. High humidity, excessive watering, and improper ventilation are some of the major culprits that attract bugs.

There is no need to worry because your plant can be restored to good health if you detect the pest at an early stage and follow the appropriate procedure to remove them.


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Common bugs in pothos

If your plant is looking weird, distorted, or ill suddenly, inspect it immediately, high chances of pest infestation. Commonly following are the bugs that attack your plant.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny bugs; you can call them younger relatives of spiders. They come in different colors. 

They are little specks spreading silky thin webs collectively all over the plant and pierce the foliage, developing discoloration and leaf yellowing. 

It’s hard to see them with naked eyes, so it gets hard to identify if there are mites infestation on your plant. 

If you see with a magnifying glass, you will find these tiny bugs crawling on foliage, roots, soil, stems, and increasing their population in no time as they reproduce fast. 

By the time you know your plant is infested, they would have invaded all over the plant. 

You will notice them when the plants’ appearance changes, and the plant shows signs like yellowing leaves, discoloration of leaves, etc.

Aphids

Aphids are tiny in size but big in creating problems. 

These oval shape of 2 mm size approx can be juicy green, red, black, yellow, or brown, found in a group mostly on the new growth or underneath the leaves, flower buds away from your sight.

They secrete a sticky liquid on leaves and stems, feed on leaves and stems seen as tiny white flakes all over the plant. 

They disrupt the growth of your plant, making the plant look ugly and deformed. 

You can also identify that your plant is infested with these bugs if you see deformed leaves and yellowing leaves, leading to weak leaves.

Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats are dark-colored tiny flies. Clouds of these small flies buzz around your plant, easy to identify.

They will grow in soil; if you shake the plant a bit, they will lift over the plant buzzing.

They not only are a pain to your plant but also for you and your home. They will be annoying you by making their way to your home in your living areas, windows, kitchen, etc.

Immature larvae damage your plant. They feed on fungi that naturally grow in the soil, feeding on roots and creating wounds on them. Mature ones are more pain for the growers and less for the plant.

Scales

Check for scales if you see shiny glazing coatings on your plant. They look like mini bumps, brow, gray, or black. There are two types, soft-scales and armored-scales.

Soft scales have a wax coating for protection, making it difficult for you to eliminate their wax body, and they also secrete a sticky liquid, which can be a pain to deal with.

Armored scales have a hard shield-like covering protecting them from chemical insecticides and challenging to control.

They heartlessly pierce foliage, stems, and branches and feed the sap within their tissues.

Symptoms like leaf yellowing, leaf drop, yellow spots, wilting, discoloration, and stunted growth will signal you towards scale attack on your pothos.

Whitefly

Whiteflies are genetically closely related to aphids and look like moths.

They are white obviously or pale in color, semi-transparent covered with wax.

These flies lay hundreds of eggs underneath the foliage, hard to detect, growing to adult rapidly in hot summers.

They can’t survive in freezing winters. They fly away when the plant is disturbed, which makes the treatment harder.

Whiteflies feed on plant foliage, stems, branches. They feast sap from their tissues and exude sweet dew on plants leaving their sign of invading.

Your devil’s ivy will become weak and stop growing further, develop yellow leaves, wilted leaves, and leaf drop.

Common problems that leads to bug infestation

There are three major culprits that leads to bugs infestation. Let us discuss more about it so we can avoid these issues in future.



High humidity

High humidity is generally recommended for the devil’s ivy plants, but the problem starts when you overdo it.

Bugs have a tiny body, and they need moisture to stay alive.

When you provide your plants with high humidity and not fulfilling other cultural requirements properly, these pests attack.

They naturally get attracted to a high humidity environment.

Over watering

No matter where you reside, what climate conditions dominate your area, overwatering, or watering your plants too frequently will play a significant role in attracting pests.

When you overwater your plant, the chances are that the excess water might not drain properly, leaving the soil soggy. Thus, creating a perfect environment for pesky bugs.

Devil’s ivy is a tropical plant, but it does not mean you can overwater them. If you care for them a lot and end up overwatering them, then that will first create problems within the plant and slowly attract bugs as well.

No ventilation

Providing proper air circulation is often ignored and not considered as equally important as other cultural conditions.

Devil’s ivy needs ventilation, especially to breathe easily; it helps in preventing high humidity levels.

It facilitates the drying of soil and decreases bacteria and fungus growth, which bugs don’t appreciate.

Keeping your plant in a group may block easy air movement through the foliage.

How do you get rid of bugs on pothos?

It is crucial to get rid of bugs keeping in mind you want to control them, not eliminate them. A reasonable number of pests are natural to the point your plants stay healthy.

Before anything, Isolate your affected devil’s ivy away from other healthy plants to prevent pests from spreading in your greenery further. Prune the damaged leaves such that the plant does not go in shock.

When we think of pests control, chemical pesticides naturally come to our mind as an immediate solution.

Still, nowadays many organic solutions are effective and non-toxic for the plant and the environment.

Always use only pesticides specifically labeled for houseplants use.

Streaming water

Thorough cleaning of your pothos with a strong stream of water can knock off an ample amount of pests from your plant, not all of them but a lot of them.

Avoid overwatering; make sure that the water should be drained out from the soil thoroughly. If not appropriately drenched, the moist soil may grow bacteria or other diseases related to moisture.

You can also use your hands to remove pests for stubborn pesky bugs.

Water in the day time so that the soil will try out completely during the day. Continue doing this for a few days regularly; you will see a significant improvement.

Horticulture oils

Horticulture oils are a great organic option to treat your plant. They help suffocate the mites and insects, clogs their breathing cycle, and disturbs them from feeding on plants. They are light on the plant and evaporate away quickly.

The oil needs to be applied every few days directly on pests for quick control.

They are vicious, but light oils so preferably work more for soft-bodied bugs than mature ones.

It can eliminate the bugs, which allows the plant to breathe.

Most horticulture oils are petroleum-based or vegetables based oils. Use oils labeled summer or light oils and not dormant oils.

Don’t apply horticulture oils to plants during scorching daylight, or when the temperatures are too high, it will stress the plant.

Spraying in the cold is also ineffective. Don’t fertilize the plants when infected with pests, and then spraying these oils will further harm the plants.

When using it, see that the humidity level is not very high because the oil is meant to evaporate naturally from the leaves.

If the humidity is high, it prevents the oil from evaporating, and that harms your plant.

Insecticidal soap

Insecticidal soap is another effective treatment for your plant, which is eco friendly and nontoxic for your plants. 

They got out of use due to the increased use of chemical pesticides. However, as people have started paying more attention to organic pesticides, they are coming back in service.

Make your insecticide soap by following simple steps:

  • Get a spray bottle
  • Pour one tablespoon liquid soap and about 4 cups of water in the bottle.
  • Shake well
  • Avoid making it too harsh by adding more liquid soap, thinking that would eliminate pests rapidly. That would instead dehydrate and kill your plants.

Spray when the temperature level is low and moderate light conditions. You have to spray them once a week if the infestation is not massive.

For medium pest infestation, spray every few days. Spray directly on pests. This will suffocate and penetrate their membranes resulting in complete shutdown.

For treating severe infestation, you need to coat your plant every few days entirely with the mix.

Pyrethrum

Pyrethrin is a gentle botanical treatment for houseplants pest.

It comes as a spray or powder rapidly knocks down the flying insects and paralyzes the bugs.

It is recommended to mix these with another pesticide to eliminate them permanently. Spray or dust Pyrethrin once every few days.

Alcohol

Rubbing isopropyl can help to get rid of these pests that stick to your plant.

Make a mixture with 1 part of alcohol with three parts of water and rub them directly on the bugs. It will help if the infestation is not massive.

Neem oil

Neem oil is extracted from the neem seeds, and it effectively disturbs pest reproduction.

They are mildly toxic and works against the pests effectively.

It messes with the brains and hormones of bugs so that they stop eating or stop mating. Eventually, the infestation will die out.

Neem oil can be sprayed all over the plant, ensuring you spray underneath the leaves as well.

You can make a solution composed of 1 and a half teaspoon of neem oil, one teaspoon of mild dish soap (not having dish soap) to 1 liter of water. Spray it all over your plant. Repeat every few days.

Wear a mask when you are using it to avoid irritation and headaches. Use cold-pressed neem oil for better results.

Diatomaceous earth

It is a good solution as long as they cannot be accessed by pollinators, honey bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

They get into the cracks and crevices of bugs bodies, stop their movement, dry them out, and kill them completely.

Limonene/Linalool

Limonene is poisonous, heightens nerves of the pest that leads to paralysis and kill them.

Limonene and Linalool are formulated with the insecticidal soap to use as contact poisons.

They are both registered for use against pests and insects, killing them super fast.

Rotenone

Rotenone is the latest addition to chemical pesticides. Its sources are the derris plant of the east indies.

They are excessively toxic for insects but harmless to humans. It is fifteen times harmful to nicotine against pests.

Spray them weekly once on the plant to see the magic. Don’t spray closer than 20 inches to the plant.

Ryania

Ryania, dried stem extract comes in powder form combined with other chemicals.

When dusted on the plant, it will contact the pest and help control them. They are toxic to dogs and fish.

Sticky traps

Sticky traps are useful to control insects that fly.

You can simply buy them or make them by applying petroleum jelly or some sticky material on yellow cardboard.

They will help eliminate many flying insects, though not a complete solution to eradicate these insects and bugs, you need to use other methods.


If you are looking to buy a lot of houseplants to brighten up your space and that too on a budget, try out Cellardoorplants. They offer a wide variety of plants, delivered right to your doorstep, and that too for every budget. If you haven't checked them yet, Try them now!


Tips to prevent bugs in Devil’s ivy?

Here are some tips to keep bugs away from your pothos:

  • Watering right is crucial to prevent bugs as excessive moisture in soil provides these bugs with a favorable environment to grow, especially fungal gnats.
  • Don’t place them in direct light for too long and avoid high-temperature levels.
  • Regularly picking these bugs with hands can keep control of them.
  • Use neem oil solution monthly as a prevention method.
  • Clean the foliage every few days and thoroughly inspect the plant to avoid any severe infestation.
  • Keeping an eye on your plant and providing proper cultural requirements will be a great preventive measure.

Sources: Study of Pest in Pothos, Common insect pests and diseases.