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Spider plants are easy to take care of and look so aesthetically pleasing that every houseplant enthusiast wants to get one. But sometimes, we often struggle to keep them healthy and thriving.
And one significant problem commonly seen in spider plants is bugs. But what kind of bugs do spider plants get, and how can we get rid of the same? Let’s find out!
Spider mites, scales, aphids, whiteflies, and fungus gnats are common bugs that infest spider plants. These bugs are mainly caused due to poor ventilation, overfertilization, and overwatering. You can eliminate these bugs by using neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and synthetic insecticides.
This article is all about identifying the bugs, understanding what draws them towards your spider plant, preventing them in the future, and eliminating these pests and bugs if you already have one.
However, as for growers, it is necessary to differentiate between the bad and the good ones.
Of course, the one who feeds on the spider plants are the bad ones, and the others who feed on these feeders are good ones.
For your concern, there will be a portion in every elimination section of each pest where we will be talking about using these good pests to get rid of the bad ones.
Now, let’s get started with reading about pests in spider plant in details:
Also read: Why is my spider plant dying?
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Spider mites on spider plant
Spider mites belong to the Teranychidae family. These mites are spread across 1200+ species.
Spider mites are as small as 0.04 inches in size and can be found in various colors. They have eight legs and an oval body, no antennae.
They are named “spider mites” not just for their look like a very tiny spider but also because of their webbing ability. These mites use this ability to cover their eggs with silk webbing to protect them from predators.
Identification of their presence-
- It’s not easy to see the spider mites with bare eyes. But if you see tiny moving dot-sized things through a magnifying glass, those are mites.
- You can differentiate them from other pests or mites based on their appearance and color.
- Stippling and webbing are the consequences caused by Spider mites. Hence, this indicates their presence and impact on the plant.
Plants need Chlorophyll in the process of photosynthesis. However, that’s whereon these spider mites feed.
Using their piercing mouthparts, they suck out the sap from the plant. You can see discoloring of foliage, drooping and premature death if your plant is highly infested.
A single female spider mite lives up to a month and lays up to 15-20 eggs every day.
- Check your Spider plant frequently with a magnifying glass to ensure that your spider plant is free from spider mites.
- Although these mites can survive in both hot and cold weather, high temperatures and dry atmosphere are believed to be the appropriate condition for reproducing these mites.
- Spraying cold water mixed with neem oil can stop them at least from multiplying any further.
- Take some amount of Neem oil and mix it with water and spray it on the spider plant. It has been used as a natural insecticide on houseplants for a long time. Because it is a natural insecticide hence, it is safe for pets and children as well.
- You can use insecticidal soap if the spider mites have already done some severe infestations to the plant. Must use it carefully under the proper guidance, or else it can bring about inevitable damage to the plant.
- Many insects like lacewings and lady beetles feed on these spider mites. Once you introduce one of such insects, avoid using pesticides as its effect can kill your good bugs.
- Acaricides, Powder duster, and Diatomaceous earth are highly effective pesticides for spider mites.
Aphids on spider plant
Aphid belongs to the Aphididae family, consisting of 4400 species, out of which about 250 are harmful to houseplants.
Aphids are soft-bodied, pear-shaped with very tiny (almost invisible to the naked eye) sized pests. It has long Antennae and long legs as well.
Most of them have a woolly coating. These pests feed on the underside of the houseplants by sucking out most of the nutrient-rich liquid called sap stored in the plants’ leaves.
Aphid appears in several colors, including white, black, yellow, reddish, and light green. Some of the Aphids might have wings, while others are wingless in their initial stage.
Identification of their presence-
- If the foliage of the plant-like Leaves or stem is coated with a sticky substance, it indicates the presence of Aphids.
- Mature Aphids feed on the plant juice; hence problems like wilting and yellowing of the leaves indicate the presence of the Aphids.
The Aphids attack begins when
- Honeydew farmed by some species of ant.
- A few winged Aphids reach your spider plant.
- You bring a new houseplant to your home without inspecting it.
These aphids then keep increasing their population and take over your entire spider plant.
As they continue to feed on one plant, some of them start growing wings. These winged Aphids then fly away and start searching for their next target. And this process keeps going on until you don’t find a way to get rid of them.
If not prevented or eliminated, these Aphids can cause wilting, yellowing, brown tips, and the plant’s premature death.
These pests can double their population every week.
Even a single female Aphid can produce at least 50 offsprings within a week.
Once a plant gets overpopulated with these pests, many of them start growing wings so that they can fly away and search for a new plant to thrive on.
It will be way better if somehow you can prevent them, so here is what you need to do:
- To prevent Aphids from destroying your spider plant, you should wipe the leaves and spray the plant with a mixture of water and dish soap at least once a week.
- Another most helpful thing that you can use is Diatomaceous earth. Remember, it works great at preventing but might not fully be able to kill them alone.
If Aphids already infested your plant, it’s necessary to find a way to get rid of these pests as soon as possible before they spread any further.
There are different ways to eliminate the Aphid. Here’s the list of a few of them that will help.
- Wash the plant with a stream of cold water mixed with some neem oil as most of them are quickly squashed when rinsed. Coldwater is something that some of these pests can’t bear, and hence it can help to a great extent.
- Insecticidal soap is highly effective against Aphids. However, neem oil and vinegar can be used as an alternative.
- Pests like ladybugs and lacewings are a species of pests that shall be beneficial as they feed on these Aphids. You can go for purchasing the Supplemental population of these pests.
- Alcohol works fine against Aphids, and also it’s readily available. Mix an equal amount of Isopropanol (isopropyl) or Ethanol with distilled water and fill it into a spray bottle. Use the solution once or twice every week.
Fungus gnats on spider plant
Fungus gnats belong to Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae families.
These are greyish-black in color and have long antennae and legs, making them look like mosquitoes in appearance. They are completely harmless to humans as they don’t spread diseases and can’t bite.
Identification of their presence-
- The fungus gnat usually thrives in high moisture and humidity. You can see them flying sometimes, but they can be found mainly on the moist soil surface due to their weak flying ability.
- Fungus gnats are attracted to light. Thus, you can notice them near window houseplants.
- They like to lay their eggs on the moist surface of the soil.
Yellowing and wilting of the leaves, poor plant growth are the major problems caused by these Fungus gnats.
- They mostly thrive better in soggy soil, so prevent overwatering. Especially in winter, spider plants’ growth slows down, and that’s why they don’t need too much water. Overwatering will help these fungus gnats a lot to thrive.
- Purchase Houseplant sticky stake, place some pieces around the spider plant and get busy back to your work. Remember, every time an adult Fungus gnat gets trapped, you get rid of 300 potential future eggs.
If your plant is under the pests attack, then I guess it’s time to eliminate them.
Don’t forget, the adult fungus gnats live about a week and lay up to 300 eggs.
So, if you miss even a single one during the process of eliminating them, then you’ll have to fight them over again. So, carefully follow any of the methods.
- Spray a solution of Hydrogen peroxide and water directly into the plant. It is recommended to use 3% Hydrogen peroxide in the solution as it would be enough to kill the larva and adult fungus gnats.
- Hypoaspis aculeifer might seem too tiny in size, but they are among the most effective fungus gnats killers.
- In case if you want a natural solution, then try DIY the vinegar traps for the bugs. It might not be as effective as the above two methods, but for less infested plants, it would be enough.
- To make a vinegar trap, take an empty jar and fill it up to half with apple cider vinegar.
- Now, cover the jar’s open side with a thin transparent plastic sheet and leave it near the spider plant. It will attract the bug towards the trap, and they’ll get caught in it.
Whiteflies on spider plant
Whiteflies belong to Aleyrodidae. They are spread over 1550+ species which include Bandedwing whiteflies, Iris whiteflies, and Sweetpotato whiteflies.
Unlike horseflies, whiteflies don’t harm peoples and pets. Nymphal are immobile, whereas adults can fly but not too high.
Whiteflies are somewhat triangular and a very soft body. These bugs are most active during the day, and they can’t bear the cold temperature.
Single female whiteflies lay up to 200 eggs, and they don’t even need male whitefly to reproduce.
Identification of their presence-
Whiteflies are tiny, winged insects. They are white, of course, as the name suggests. They are visible to the naked eye and are attracted to light.
These bugs use their piercing mouthparts to suck the plant’s sap, eventually causing the plant’s yellowing and weakening.
Whiteflies also produce honeydew which can cause fungal diseases that cause falling off of the plant.
Once infested too heavily, it won’t be wrong to consider your favorite spider plants dead.
Whitefly can multiply their populations within a week. So it is necessary to prevent them from emerging. Here are a few ways :
- A dry or under-watered plant is more likely to be infested as it’s more susceptible to whiteflies. So, water your plant correctly, neither too much nor too little.
- Homemade garlic spray can help to prevent whiteflies. Use it at least once a week to prevent the plant from whiteflies attack.
- Horticulture oil and dormant spray oil can help prevent whiteflies if applied at least twice a month all over the spider plant.
- Set the yellow index card as a trap to capture whiteflies. Usually, whiteflies are not good flyers and prefer to stay near their host; hence it’s easy to catch them with a yellow index card.
- Dragonflies, spiders, and ladybugs, Encarsia Formosa are some predator bugs that can be used fighting against whiteflies.
- You can make a pesticide at home using one-gallon water, 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp dish soap, and 2 tsp vinegar. Fill it into a spray bottle and shake it so that everything gets mixed well. Now, spray it all over the plant.
- If you don’t have a spray bottle, dip a cotton ball into the solution and apply it to every plant portion. Most people forget to use it to the leaf’s underside. You don’t make this mistake as whiteflies mostly lay eggs backside of the leaf.
This method will defeat the whiteflies and remove honeydew released by the whiteflies that can cause fungal diseases and attracts ants as well.
Scales on spider plant
Scales are tiny, flat, oval-shaped insects that have a dark-colored shell-like covering.
The scale is of various colors, including mostly orange and brownish-yellow in color.
They attach themselves to the leaves and keep consuming the sap of the houseplant.
Identification of presence-
You can find these bugs on the steam and under the leaves. As Scales are primarily visible to the naked eye, you don’t need some tips to identify them. You can directly see them.
Scales are the enemy of your plant as other harmful bugs are. They can cause Leaf dropping, yellowing, and deforming leaf. In case of heavy infestation, you can lose your spider plant entirely.
- Make a weekly plant cleaning routine. Plants need to be cleaned at least twice or thrice a month to stay safe from pests attack.
- Most of the bugs, including scale, thrive under warm temperatures. Neem oil spray can be used as an excellent preventative method. Just shake the spray bottle well and spray it in the entire plant, including the soil surface. Doing so once every two weeks until the plant isn’t free from bugs will help the infested plant recover.
- You should isolate a highly infested plant, and the leaves need to be cut down immediately as it would be too risky for the entire spider plant if we try saving the highly infested one.
Also, check the other plant that is kept closer to the infested plant to ensure that there’s no sign of Scale bugs on them.
Here’s the two-step method to eliminate all the scales from your spider plant. We’ll start with removing all the visible scales on the plant.
Next, we will apply a solution to kill all the eggs and keep the plant free of infestation from returning.
Try this entire process outside your house to keep your furniture and floor safe.
Put on your gloves, and get ready for the step-on. For this, you’ll need rubbing alcohol as it burns them right away, a cotton ball and cotton swabs, and a paper towel.
Dip the cotton ball into the alcohol and rub it on the entire leaf (above and under the leaf), especially in the infected portion.
Some of them may be holding the leaf tight. So, you need to apply some force and keep in mind not to damage the leaf while removing the Scales. Yet, if some of them are stubborn to get removed, use your nails to scrub them away.
Clean the entire plant doing the same. Now dip the cotton swab in alcohol again. Use the cotton swab to remove the scale bugs hidden in the crevices, gaps, and cracks where you can’t reach the cotton balls.
Now, take a paper towel, apply some alcohol on it, and clean the container to ensure that any eggs or scale may not stick to them if they escape while cleaning the plant. Here we are done with step one.
Moving to the next step, we’ll be using an alcohol and dish soap solution mixed with water.
Get a measuring cup (alt. water glass) and fill about 3/4 with alcohol and fill it into the 30 ounces of water in any container. Now add 2 tsp of mild dish soap and mix the solution well.
Now, fill the solution into a spray bottle and shake it well and spray it on the entire plant heavily. Your spider plant needs to be completely soaked with the solution. Take your time, don’t rush.
Try following this method twice a month, and you’ll see excellent results.
How do I protect my spider plants from bugs?
- While bringing a new plant into your home, make sure to inspect it thoroughly and carefully.
- I would also recommend keeping the new plant separate for a few weeks to prevent any possible pest infestation.
- While repotting a plant, prefer using commercially prepared potting soil instead of using the garden soil. The soil in your garden might be another source of pests.
- While treating an infected spider plant, make sure to keep it away from the other houseplant as the pests can shift to them.
- Wipe the plant and mist it regularly as taking special care to save the plant from dying.
- Take your plant outdoors before spraying any pesticide. If this is done indoors, bugs may escape and hide somewhere inside the room and come back to the plant sometime later.
Sources: Common insect pests and diseases.