There are a number of bugs and pests that can infest your plants, either outdoors or indoors. If you notice that plants in your house or garden are not growing the same as they once did. Or if you see distorted plant growth and bugs on them, you need to take appropriate action in order to save your plants.
Here we will discuss the most common types of pests and bugs found on plants. Also, we are going to discuss the necessary steps that will help to prevent an infestation from taking your favorite potted plants hostage.
Many species of ants can be troublesome on plants in the home or home greenhouse. Ants are usually 1/16 to 1/2 inch long. They are, brown, black, yellow or red in color. Ants have small waists and necks.
They live in groups or colonies that they form underground or in flowerbeds of home greenhouses or in window boxes.
Some of the species of ant dig up and carry away newly planted seeds or small seedlings. Damage of the roots of your plants may occur by the burrowing activities of ants.
Certain species of ants are attracted to plants by certain mealybugs, aphids and scale insects that excrete honeydew. The ants feed on this, sticky, sweetish liquid.
What to do
When ants are a result of mealybugs, aphids or scale insects, apply necessary control measures for these pests. If ants still continue to be a problem, treat the area where the infestation is present with an insecticide.
Many species of aphids are pests of houseplants. Generally, aphids are 1/16 to 1/8 inch long. They are pink, green red or black in color. Aphids have longs legs and antennae on their heads. Their bodies are soft and round in shape.
In every species of aphids, there are both wing and wingless forms. But the wingless form of aphids forms the majority of the species. Some aphids may appear powdery because of a waxy covering.
Typically, aphids form their clusters on the undersides of leaves. They also attack the young, tender leaves and stems or flower buds. Some species also feed on the roots of plants.
Aphids get their food by sucking out the plant juices. As a result, this feeding leads to stunted plants, poor growth or curled and distorted leaves.
Aphids excrete a sticky, sweetish liquid known as honeydew. This Honeydew attracts ants. Thus attracting ants to your garden or house.
What to do
Use an insecticide such as insecticidal soap or horticultural soap. But make sure that the insecticide lists both “aphids” and “houseplants” on its label. Follow the instruction on the label. You can also use bio pesticides to control aphids.
If one or a few plants are facing infestation, washing, handpicking or using alcohol may be a practical and best way to control aphids.
3) Cutworms and Other Caterpillars
Many species can cause trouble in the home greenhouse. Cutworms and caterpillars are barely visible to the naked eye when they hatch. But by the time they grow fully and reach a length of about 1 1/2 to 2 inches, you can spot them.
Some species are mottled, some have a solid color, and some are striped crosswise or lengthwise. Colors in shades of brown or green are common for some species. But different combinations of, red, brown-yellow, gray, green and black are also found. A few kinds of caterpillars are covered with dense hair.
Cutworms are not easy to find. This is because they hide in the soil or very deep in the flowers during the daytime. Cutworms and few other caterpillars develop from eggs. These eggs are laid by night-flying moths. These moths enter the greenhouses from the open ventilators and lay the eggs.
Buds, leaves or flowers may be partly or entirely eaten. Some of the worms cut off young plants near the soil level or the flowers or branches of bigger plants. Dark pellets of excrement may be left on the ground or plant.
What to do
Handpicking is mostly enough for the control of cutworms and other caterpillars. If handpicking is not possible, use an insecticide listing “caterpillars” as one of the insects it can control. Use the insecticide as per the directions on the label.
4) Cyclamen Mites
Cyclamen mites are too small and are invisible to the human eye. If you see cyclamen mites using a magnifying glass, they appear oval in shape. They are amber or tan-colored, glistening semitransparent mites.
The young ones are even smaller and are milky white. The eggs are pearly white and oval in shape.
Cyclamen Mites are generally found in protected places such as on young tender leaves, young stem ends, flowers, and buds. They crawl from one plant to another where leaves touch. Hands or clothing also serve as a means of transfer and spread.
Leaves of infected plants are curled, twisted and brittle. Buds may face deformation and fail to open. Flowers get deformed and often develop streaks of darker color. The blackening of buds leaves and flowers is common.
Ivy having infestation will produce stems without leaves. Also, small leaves with deformation may develop. African violets suffering from infestation develop twisted small and hairy leaves that may soon die.
What to do
If possible, trim off badly injured plant parts. Soak infested plants, pot and all, for 15 minutes in water kept at 110 F. Success of this treatment completely depends on careful control of the temperature of the water. you can also use biopesticides to control cyclamen mites.
5) False Spider Mites
Some species of spider mites can infest plants in the house or home greenhouse. These are oval and flat in shape. The dark-red mites are too small to be visible to the naked eye. The young ones and eggs are bright red in color.
All the stages of these mites are generally found on the undersides of leaves, mostly along the veins or other irregularities present on the leaves.
Feeding by false spider mites causes rusty-brown or fine stippled bronze areas along veins and on the entire leaves. Edges of leaves suffering from infestation may die. Also, the leaves may lose some color and drop off. All this leads to the weakening of the plants.
What to do
In-home greenhouses, you can control false spider mites by two or three applications of horticultural oil or insecticidal soaps at 7-day intervals.
6) Fungus Gnats
Adult fungus gnats are extremely delicate, gray or dark-gray, fly-like. They are about 1/8 inch long. They are mainly attracted to light. If they somehow enter your house, they swarm over the windows.
The immature forms usually live in the soil. These younger fungus gnats are thin whitish maggots. They have a jet blackhead and grow up to a length of about 1/4 inch. Maggots are mostly found in soils consisting of decaying vegetable matter.
Fungus gnats cause injury to the root systems. They do this by burrowing in the soil. After this, they feed on the crowns and roots of plants. Severely injured plants make very little growth. They appear off-color and may drop foliage. Adult fungus gnats usually do no cause damage but are irritating.
What to do
If you want to control the maggots in home greenhouses, do not overwater the plants. You can use Insecticide sprays to target the adults. Whereas insecticide drenches can be applied to the potting soil to control maggots. You can also use sticky traps to get rid of fungus gnats in your home.
Mealybugs are common pests of house plants. Mealybugs have a soft body. They appear as if they have been dusted with flour because of their waxy covering. They grow to a length of about 3/16 inches.
Some species of Mealybugs have waxy filaments extending from the rear of their bodies. Mealybugs are mostly found resting or crawling on stems. Eggs are laid in clusters covered in white waxy, cottony or fuzzy material.
The ground mealybug, a soil creature, feeds on the roots of African violets and other house plants.
Mealybugs feed on the plant juices, thus stunting the plant growth and ultimately killing the plant. Sooty mold may grow on the honeydew by certain species of mealybugs. The ground mealybug damage and destroy the rootlets. As a result, the plants grow slowly.
What to do
If one or a few plants are facing infestation, you may be able to control mealybugs by handpicking, washing, or by using alcohol. Isolate treated plants to prevent re-infestation. Use an insecticide spray or a systemic granular insecticide.
Millipedes are worm-like creatures with many short legs (two pairs per body segment). The hard bodies are tan, brown or gray.
Millipedes are generally found under flowerpots or boards or in other sheltered areas. They are likely to be present in large numbers in moist places where there is plenty of dead and organic material.
They are hyperactive at night and tend to assume a coil form if disturbed.
Millipedes feed on roots, seeds tubers, bulbs or fleshy stems of plants. But mostly, they eat decaying organic matter. They become a headache if present in large numbers.
What to do
Eliminate hiding places. Also, clean the excessive organic matter whenever possible. Drench the soil surface and hiding places and soil surfaces with an insecticide spray.
Psocids are house pests that have soft oval bodies, Psocids grow about 1/32 to 1/16 inch long. Their body color ranges from pale yellowish white to gray. Some species of Psocids have wings and others are wingless.
These pests feed on vegetable matter or dead animals vegetable matter, fungi and lichens.
Psocids may be seen in large numbers in the soil or on benches and pots. Especially in isolated locations in the homes and greenhouses. Quick-moving, minute psocids are often found on old books and papers stored in damp and moist places. These are commonly known as booklice.
Psocids are commonly be found on living plants. But so far as known, they do not feed on them. When present in clusters, psocids are a headache.
What to do
Control measures are not necessary.
Scale insects are common on plants in the homes or mini-greenhouses. Scale insects consist of a waxy shell-like covering or armor that provides complete body protection. The soft scale has no armor. Soft scale insects produce honeydew while the armored scale does not produce such liquid.
Scales are about 1/16 to 1/8 inch in diameter. But a few species maybe 4 times larger. Some are oval, some are hemispherical in shape and some are shaped like an oyster shell. Colors range from black to white. But a majority are brown and gray in color.
Some species of scale insects give eggs in a whitish sac. The sac comes out from under the scale.
Scales are often mistaken for mealybugs if you fail to examine them closely. This is because of the presence of the shell-like covering.
Few varieties of scale insects infest on the leaves of plants. While others are found both on leaves and stems but mainly attack the stems.
Scale insects get food by sucking the plant juices. This feeding causes poor and stunted growth.
As seen previously, the soft scale regularly excretes droplets of honeydew. This sweet substance attracts ants. It gives a shiny appearance to the foliage and provides a base for the growth and development of sooty mold.
What to do
If only one or a few plants are facing infestation, washing with soapy water may be the best way to control scale insects. Plants facing heavy should be discarded. If the need to use insecticide sprays arises, four or more sprays should be made at two-week intervals. A granular, systemic insecticide will work.
11) Slugs and Snails
Many species of slugs and snails can be a cause of concern in the home greenhouse. Both snails and slugs have soft, fleshy, slimy, legless bodies. Their color ranges from whitish-yellow to black. Most of these pests are mottled with shades of gray.
These house pests are slow-moving. They grow to lengths of about 1/2 inch to 4 inches. Snails have a very hard spiral shell on the back. Shells usually range from about 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. The shells are off white to brown or black in color.
Snails and slugs generally hide during the day under pieces of pottery or wood, fallen leaves or mulches. These pests are active at night, but they may also be active on moist, damp, dark days.
Snails and slugs feed on the flowers, leaves stems or roots of plants They do this by scraping off the tissue or eating holes in the flowers or leaves. They always leave a glistening trail of slime wherever they crawl on any surface.
What to do
As far as possible, eliminate hiding places. Put out a few pieces of boards or shingles for traps. Collect and destroy trapped snails and slugs every alternate day. Also, look for them under the pots and under the pot rims. Collect snails and slugs from the plants at night time.
If further control measures are required, use a commercially prepared snail and slug bait. Apply it as per the directions on the container.
You can partially control slugs and snails if you place shallow dishes of beer in the vicinity of plants suffering from an infestation. The snails and slugs will crawl into the beer and drown. The dishes should have straight sides to make it easier for the slugs and snails to crawl in.
12) Sowbugs and Pillbugs
Sowbugs and pillbugs can be troublesome in the home and greenhouse. Pillbugs and sowbugs have segmented, shell-like bodies. They have an oval body. They are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. Sowbugs and pillbugs are gray to brown in color. Sowbugs and pillbugs are mostly found in places with high humidity.
They are most active during the night and usually hide in loose soil or under any suitable cover during the day. If you disturb them, pillbugs roll up in a ball. Similarly, sowbugs scurry for cover.
Sowbugs and pillbugs feed on dead and decaying organic matter. Also, they feed on plant roots and tender plant parts, especially on the delicate parts of bedding plants and seedlings.
What to do
Destroy hiding places if possible. Spray soil surface, under benches and boardwalks, along foundations or other areas facing infestation with an insecticide.
Springtails can be troublesome in the soil, in flower pots, home, and greenhouses. This pest ranges in size from microscopic to about 1/5 inch long. Some species of springtails have segmented, slender bodies. Some other species have globular bodies without any distinct segmentation.
Springtails are whitish to blackish in color. Some are purple or tinted blue. Springtails become plentiful in moist conditions where there is much organic material. A large number of springtails can be seen on the surface of the soil. Mostly they feed on dead and decaying matter.
Springtails chew on seedlings or on tender parts of plants, particularly the parts near ground level. They are a nuisance when numerous.
What to do
Spray pots, soil surfaces, shelves, saucers, and affected parts of plants with an insecticide.
Many species of thrips may infest house plants. Thrips are slender and are barely visible to the human eye. Adults may be brown, tan blackish-brown or black, with lighter markings. The younger ones are whitish to yellow or orange. Also, some species have droplets of black excrement on their backs.
The adults leap away or fly, or run rapidly about on the plant if disturbed. The young ones are comparatively less active.
Both adults and young are harmful to plants. They attack flowers or leaves, by feeding on the plant juices. Injury on plants appears as irregular or streaked silvered areas along with little black dots. Foliage may drop or blotch. Also, distortion in flowers is visible.
What to do
Spray the soil surface and the plant three to four times on a four-day interval with an insecticide. You can also use biopesticides control thrips.
15) Two-Spotted Spider Mites
Two-spotted spider mites are a very common pest of house plants. They are present in large numbers when conditions are warm and dry. These oval, tiny, yellowish or greenish mites are barely visible to the human eye.
They are mostly found on the under surfaces of leaves. when their population increases, they spread to other parts of the plant. If an infestation is very heavy, spider mites form a frail, silky webbing that stretches from leaf to leaf to cover the entire plant. Spider mites can be seen as they crawl over this webbing.
Spider mites harm the plants by sucking out the plant juices. The infestation appears as yellowish or whitish speckled areas on the top surfaces of leaves. As for feeding increases, the leaves take on a yellowed or bronzed appearance and may die or drop from the plant.
Growth in plants suffering from heavy infestation becomes stunted. Also, the plants may die if infestation continues. Fading of flowers may also occur.
What to do
Syringe tough plants with a forceful and powerful spray of water to break up webbing and dislodge spider mites. After that, wash the plants with soapy water. After a day or two, plants can be sprayed with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Make sure to wet the undersides of leaves. Multiple applications at regular weekly intervals are necessary to control spider mites.
Some species of houseflies can be troublesome. The adult houseflies are about 1/16 inch long. They have white, wedge-shaped wings.
When infested plants are moved from one place to another, the adults take flight. They take shape of small snowflakes or bits of paper ash swirling in the air.
The younger houseflies are generally pale green to yellow or whitish in color. They are oval in outline and are flat on top. Except for newly hatched young ones, the flies in the immature stage are attached to the leaves, mostly on the under surfaces.
Both adults and younger houseflies feed on the leaves of plants by sucking out the juices. Leaves facing infestation become pale, turn yellow, drop off or die. Surfaces of leaves get covered with sticky honeydew excreted by the insects. Sooty mold start develops on the honeydew with time.
What to do
Spray plants, using an insecticide. Wet the bottom side of the foliage. Weekly applications of insecticides help in controlling houseflies. The use of a granular, systemic insecticide is also a good option.