How to Get Rid of Black Bugs from My Potted House Plant?

If you are super active on different social media platforms and are between the ages of 18 and 24, you’ve very likely been convinced by multiple influencers to try your hand at being a plant parent.

However, if you are not new to this globally trending hobby and already have multiple potted house place species decorated around your living space, good for you! What’s more, you’re in great company.

As a matter of fact, you are part of the 66% American population that has invested in at least a potted house plant for their room, dining hall, bathroom, or their office.

In today’s world, potted house plants are becoming an increasingly popular purchase amongst people of all ages, especially millennials.

Some people want a small indoor planter because their favorite social media personality has it. In contrast, others are more interested in investing in a couple of different potted house plant species to give their living space a quick, easy, and budget-friendly makeover.

Moreover, many psychologists, adult caretakers, and doctors have also encouraged purchasing potted house plants as they are supposed to be fantastic at improving one’s physical and mental health.

However, regardless of whether you have different potted house plant species for their aesthetic appeal or if you find caring for them an act of at-home therapy, one thing is for sure, you will not be happy to see any gnarly small black bugs crawling around your potted plant babies.

These small black bugs do not only look nasty, but they can also damage your potted house plant’s health, leading it to premature death.

Hence, you must learn what these bugs are and how you can contain this situation.

Continue reading below to learn all about the small black bugs and how they damage the health and growth of a potted house plant.

You may also be interested in; Houseplants for Self Watering Pots

What Are the Small Black Bugs in Your Potted House Plant?

While many Americans claim to be obsessed with purchasing newly potted house plants, unfortunately, most people don’t know how to take care of these plants and end up accidentally killing them.

Although the indoor plant’s death is usually not deliberate, people seem to be struggling with keeping their house plants alive for long despite being attentive to the plant’s care routine.

The main reason for this is that most plant owners are not informed enough to deal with situations that risk the potted house plant’s life.

One such situation that is often known by both new and experienced potted house plant caretakers to be one of the leading causes of an indoor planter’s premature death is the presence of small black bugs.

People new to the whole house plant parent game usually have no idea what these small black bugs are and where they come from.

Their lack of knowledge leads to rapid growth in the number of these bugs, which eventually leads to the plant’s early death. Hence, knowing what causes these bugs to attack a potted healthy house plant is important.

When people spot small black bugs in the potted house plants, they can either be looking at aphids, thrips, or fungal gnats.

All these three bugs are different kinds of pests that get attracted to laying eggs in the soil of a potted house plant for different reasons.

Let’s look at all the small black bugs one by one to understand what they are and what causes them to infest a potted house plant.


An Aphid is a very small bug that can be black, gray, blue, red, brown, or white in color. These bugs are usually easy to identify because of their fat, round bodies and because they remain in clusters and usually are found on flowering plants or newly grown buds.

Aphids are one of the most notorious small black bugs that are known for killing a fully grown potted house plant within a few days. This happens because Aphids are able to multiply to a huge population in very little time.

Where Do Aphids Come from?

If you have spotted Aphids living in clusters on your potted house plant, there are a number of ways they could have made their way to your plant.

Although not all Aphids have tiny wings to fly, they can easily jump from one plant pot to the other.

Hence, if one of your potted house plants has been infested with these bugs, the pest infestation will spread to all your other potted house plants like wildfire if you do not intervene in time.

At times, the potted house plant you purchase from a plant store or a farmer’s market is already infested, and bringing it inside your home allows the infestation to spread to all your other plants.

Moreover, chances are that if your dog or cat tends to go out and play in the garden often, it could have brought in the Aphids through its fur.

Furthermore, if you have a potted house plant on a window sill, and you tend to keep the window open, the Aphids could have flown into your home and onto your indoor planters with the wind.

Hence, if you can spot small black Aphids roaming around your precious potted house plants, you need to intervene immediately to ensure the infestation does not spread over to all your other indoor potted planters.


Thrips are extremely small insects, and it is usually extremely hard to spot a single Thrip sitting on your potted house plant. These are thin and slender insects that have small fringed wings.

Due to their minute size, house plant parents remain completely unaware of an infestation till the signs of a house plant’s poor health and distress become prominent.

Over the period that these small black bugs remain unnoticed, they are able to reproduce and multiply to a population of thousands of Thrips in just a few days.

This is the point when the house plant parent is finally able to identify these black, gray, and brown bugs swarming around the potted house plant.

However, by that point, the Thrips have already spread and flown over to other potted house plant species, and it is usually extremely challenging to save indoor planters from premature death once this happens.

Read How to Get Rid of Thrips on Houseplants

Where do Thrips Come from?

Like the Aphids, one of the most common ways for a Thrip population to enter your household is by purchasing a new potted indoor planter already dealing with a Thrip infestation.

Since these small black bugs are extremely hard to detect, a majority of people have no clue that they have bought an infested plant.

Moreover, many people keep some of their potted house plants under shade during the day. This allows these potted house plants to get the sunlight they need to photosynthesize and produce plant food.

Since it is extremely common for Thrips to exist in outdoor plants or the grass, the chances of the pest flying or jumping over to your potted house plants are high.

Furthermore, it is also possible to bring a living Thrip into your home and onto your plant if you yourself have been spending some time laying in the grass or sitting in your backyard.

The Thrip can get onto your clothes and land on a potted house plant as soon as you go back indoors.

Fungal Gnats

Perhaps the most common pest infestation that is responsible for a majority of the potted house plants’ deaths is that of a fungal gnat infestation.

These small black bugs are like tiny little flies that can easily be identified for their long legs and transparent wings.

Out of the three small black bugs, fungal gnats are the relatively easiest to spot as they keep buzzing around the potted house plant in groups called ‘clouds.’

Within a span of just a week, a group of fungal gnats is able to lay hundreds of eggs in the soil, which hatch into larva. If the potted plant caretaker moves the infested soil with a stick, they are usually able to spot the white larva wiggling around the soil.

This is the point where one can still contain the situation and kill the larvae before they turn into winged fungal gnats.

However, if the plant parent does not intervene on time, the larva turns into small black fungal gnats that begin buzzing around in clouds, and start to fly over to other potted house plants that are placed in the same room.

Read How to Get Rid of Gnats in a House Plant Soil?

Where do the Fungal Gnats Come From?

Just like Thrips and Aphids, the most common way for a fungal gnat infestation is when you purchase a potted house plant that already contains gnat eggs.

If the caretaker is not as vigilant and does not pay close attention to his potted plants, it’s just a matter of a few weeks before signs of distress and deteriorating plant health begin to show in all the potted house plants.

Moreover, fungal gnats do not simply attack a potted house plant for no reason. As a matter of fact, they are only attracted to an excessively overwatered house plant.

When someone waters their house plant beyond its needs, the excess water begins to accumulate inside the plant’s pot. If the water is not drained or dried off soon enough, the fungus begins to grow inside the pot’s soil.

Once the fungus is able to grow all the way to the plant’s roots, the roots begin to decay and die. Since fungal gnats survive on dead plant matter, the rotten plant roots become excellent nutrition for the fungal gnat population to reproduce and grow.

Read How to Get Rid of White Flies on Houseplants

How Does the Presence of the Small Black Bugs Affect Your Potted House Plant’s Health and Growth?

In general, potted house plant species are far more sensitive and susceptible than outdoor plant species. Hence, timely intervention and treatment will be everything if your potted house plants are dealing with a pest attack.

Once Aphids, Thrips, or Fungal Gnats have fully infested a potted house plant, they can affect its health and growth in the following ways:

  • Although fungal gnats do not directly affect a potted house plant’s health and growth, they create a problem by sucking up all the essential nutrients from the soil.
    • As a result, the potted house plant’s growth gets stunted, and its stem loses the ability to stay upright.
    • Moreover, since the gnats have consumed all of the plant’s decaying roots, no more water will be able to be carried up the plant’s body.
    • This will cause the plant’s leaves to lose color, curl up, and eventually fall into the soil.
    • If this continues, the potted house plant will die and become a part of the fungal gnat’s meal in just under a week.
  • Aphids are the small black bugs that attack the potted indoors directly. These black pests stick to the plant’s stem or leaves and begin sucking out the plant sap.
    • Since the sap contains important nutrients that help the plant grow and stay alive, its consumption by the Aphids affects the plant’s well-being.
    • Moreover, as the Aphids feast on the potted house plant, they excrete a sticky substance called honeydew onto the surface of the plant’s leaves.
    • This leads to a black sticky mold growing onto the surface of the leaves, which blocks any sunlight from reading the leaf.
    • Without sufficient sunlight exposure, photosynthesis is inhibited, and the plant can no longer produce food to stay healthy and alive.
  • Thrips act in a similar way to Aphids by poking holes in the leaves of a potted house plant and sucking out its essential juices.
    • If too many nutrients are sucked out, the leaves of the potted plant lose their ability to stay upright and eventually curl up and fall into the soil.

Read Soil Mites in House Plants

Get Rid of the Black Bugs from My Potted House Plant
Get Rid of the Black Bugs from My Potted House Plant

Final Thoughts

Caring for a potted house plant is said to be an extremely calming and therapeutic activity. People who tend to spend even 15 minutes taking care of their indoor planters claim to be less stressed and less anxious.

However, the free at-home therapy will not stay as relaxing and peaceful when different nasty small black bugs infest your potted house plants.

Not only will these bugs ruin the visual appeal of a potted house plant, but they will also cause the plant’s premature death.

Hence, it is incredibly important that a house plant parent is well-informed about what these bugs are and how one can avoid a pest infestation to keep their plants healthy and thriving for a long time.

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