How to Kill House Plant Bugs [Complete Guide]

Is your houseplant not looking too good? Where it once stood tall and proud, is it now droopy and looking sick? There are a few explanations for this condition.

  • Is your plant getting too much or too little sunlight?
  • Are you underwatering or, most likely, overwatering it?
  • Is there an excessive amount of compaction in the soil?
  • Does it need fertilizer to be added to its diet?
  • Or, even worse, has it been taken over by pests? (Covered below)

Houseplants not only help clean the air in your home, which is a wonderful advantage, but they also add a splash of vibrant color and a little bit of life to each space.

However, these lush greens have a propensity to be just as appealing to unwanted bugs as they are to you, which may provide a significant challenge for their overall look, development, and well-being.

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Since houseplants are always kept indoors in the shelter of the home, they are subjected to conditions that may not be ideal for them in terms of temperature, sunshine, and humidity.

Due to this, houseplants are an obvious target for any plant pests that may find their way indoors.

Inside, there are no natural predators for pests; thus, their number may quickly grow out of control, often referred to as an infestation (more on this later!)

To help you keep your house plants bug-free, we’ve outlined the most common houseplant bugs found in the United States, following the best tips to help you get rid of them.

Let’s dive into this article on getting rid of house plant bugs.

Infestation in Houseplants

When a plant is stressed or weakened, it is more susceptible to being infected by harmful pests.

Therefore, make it a practice to inspect your houseplants regularly, looking for bugs and other creatures in the soil and beneath the leaves to avoid infestations at all costs.

Remove any leaves that have become discolored, dried up, or are otherwise obviously damaged. This will ensure that there is no debris on which pests may feed.

If you add a new houseplant into your home, isolate it from the other plants for some time. As we have learned after experiencing the deadly coronavirus, isolation is the best way to prevent the spread of any potential illnesses or vermin.

Whether you’re new to houseplant care or have been doing it for years, always remember that if you get ahead of the pests, it will be much simpler to get rid of them.

However, if you discover that pests have taken up residence in your nicely potted Pothos or any other cherished plantings, remove the infected plant as quickly as possible.

Place it far from any healthy, growing plants you have in your home. Once this is done, you need to work on getting these pests away from your plants and out of your home.

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Read How to Care for Houseplants in Winter

Insecticide and Pesticides to Control Houseplants Bugs

Insecticidal SoapWhiteflies, Aphids, Spider Mites,  Mealybugs, Scale Crawlers,
Neem Oil ExtractAphids, Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Scale (Adults and Crawlers), Whiteflies
Canola Oil and PyrethrinsAphids, Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Scale (Adults and Crawlers), Whiteflies
Cottonseed, Clove, and Garlic OilThrips, Aphids, Spider Mites, Mealybugs, Whiteflies, Scale (Adults and Crawlers)
Rosemary, Clove, and Cottonseed OilWhiteflies, Spider Mites, Aphids, Scale (Adults and Crawlers), Mealybugs, Thrips, Caterpillars
Spinosad and Insecticidal SoapMealybugs, Aphids, Leafminers, Spider Mites, Thrips, Whiteflies, Caterpillars, Scale Crawlers

Most Common Houseplant Bugs and How to Get Rid of Them

Whether you tend to grow a few African violets, coddle a fiddle leaf fig tree, or fill your home with exotic tropical plants found in the United States, you are aware that providing your houseplants with consistent care is one of the best ways to ensure they remain healthy and content.

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However, despite all the tender loving care you provide to your houseplants, they may be plagued by various pests. These include fungus gnats and spider mites, and all call for a different approach.

Dealing with an infestation of unwanted pests is a plant owner’s biggest nightmare. However, if you put in some extra work, you should be able to keep your plants safe from pests, thus extending their life.

A few bugs won’t do much damage, but if you do nothing to stop their reproduction, they may quickly convert your favorite potted plant into an unsightly mess or even cause it to die.

If you see bugs on your plants, there’s no need to panic. Most common houseplant pests may be managed with only a few simple strategies and some perseverance. Ready to learn from the experts? Read along.

Read How to Care for Houseplants in Summer

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are a species of scale insect often misidentified as dust. These insects have the appearance of little, white particles of dryer lint due to their oval shape and soft bodies and enjoy nothing more than sucking the life force out of your houseplant while eating the liquids it produces.

You’ll find them roaming around in little colonies on the undersides of leaves, surrounding new growth, and in the teeny-tiny crannies between the houseplants’ leaves and stems.

Since they are tough to eradicate and have a high reproduction rate, mealybugs may be challenging to handle.

For starters, begin by soaking a cotton swab in alcohol and then apply pressure to any mealybugs you come across.

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Next, the plant should be treated with neem oil, an efficient fungicide, and insecticide that’s safe for use around people and animals provided it is applied appropriately.

Mix one teaspoon of neem oil and one-half teaspoon of liquid soap with one quart of water, then dilute the mixture.

Put it in a spray bottle, give it a good shake, and then apply it to the plant, paying special attention to the backs of the leaves.

The teeny-tiny eggs of the mealybug are hardy; therefore, if the infestation is still present a week later, you will need to carry out these steps once again for a week or two.

Read Why Are My House Plant’s Leaves Curling Up?

Aphids

Found almost in any plant, these soft-bodied and pear-shaped pesky insects have long legs and antennae.

Aphids like new growth and feed on fragile stems, branches, and buds, penetrating the stems and leaves of the houseplant and draining the nutrient-rich sap out of them.

They eat in large numbers, leaving behind misshapen blooms and yellow foliage. Moreover, they also give birth to live young, which means they may quickly spread across any space.

To get rid of aphids once and for all, blast them with a powerful jet of water from a shower head or garden hose. Remove any still attached to your plant and then use your fingers to smash them.

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You can also make a spray at home by combining one tablespoon of liquid soap with one liter of water and then spraying the potion directly on the parts of the houseplant infected with aphids.

Another option is to purchase an over-the-counter spray that contains neem oil. Note that your pre-mixed neem oil spray, as we discussed before, may also be helpful in this situation.

Thunder Flies or Thrips

Sometimes known as thunder flies, thrips are little, thin, dark-colored bugs that are recurring garden pests that may slip inside and wreak havoc on your houseplants.

Discolored or blotchy leaves are among the first signs of a thrips infection.

Thrips mostly crawl and fly around as they extract the sap from the plant’s leaves, stems, flowers, and buds.

They also leave behind feces droplets, which will appear like little dark spots similar to varnish.

The simplest way to swiftly get rid of thunder flies or thrips is to rinse the leaves of the damaged houseplant under running water, either in the open air or in the shower.

Since they’re easily killed on contact with soap, the most effective way to get rid of them is to spray your houseplant with an insecticidal soap that has already been pre-mixed.

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You can also make a cleaning solution by combining one teaspoon of mild liquid soap with one liter of water.

Once again, your tried-and-true neem oil spray may work like magic.

Read How To Save A Dying House Plant?

Spider Mites

Spider mites are the scourge of anybody passionate about houseplants. Some individuals often fail to notice them because they mistake their minute webs for those of typical spiders.

However, most of the time, it is not a spider but rather a terrible tiny mite so small that the human eye can hardly detect it.

They usually begin feeding on the underside of plant leaves, most active in dry, hot circumstances, such as those on a plant situated next to a heating duct.

Plant damage, such as light-colored speckling on the top surface of houseplant leaves, is the first indication that an infestation of spider mites may be present.

You should use a powerful spray of water from a hose or showerhead to dislodge the spider mites and destroy their webs.

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Again, you may also use sprays made of neem oil or soaps containing insecticides to treat houseplants infected by spider mites.

When dealing with a spider mite infestation, it is typically required to spray once a week for at least three to four weeks to bring the situation under control.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are not real flies but are more closely related to mealybugs and aphids. They have a powdery white appearance (thus the name), and their length ranges from 1/10 to 1/16 inches.

Unlike other houseplant bugs in the United States, whiteflies resemble little white moths (incredibly minuscule) and feed on the plant fluids, which causes the leaves to wilt and fall off the plant.

You can capture whiteflies using yellow sticky traps since they are drawn to the color yellow, which also happens to be their favorite hue.

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If the issue continues, blast the leaves in short bursts with neem oil and water. This will destroy all stages of the insect, including the eggs, the larvae, and the adults.

Read Why is My Houseplant Wilting

Fungus Gnats

Gnats are more of an annoyance than a threat to your houseplants since they feed on nectar rather than plant matter.

These small flies, which are often the consequence of overwatering, reproduce in moist soil, and the larval stage of their life cycle involves feeding on roots.

As soon as they have hatched, you can watch them fluttering out of your plant’s pot whenever you water it.

Your soil should be allowed to dry up before you continue to water it, so avoid doing that. You may also try luring adult gnats using a fly or gnat trap with a sticky surface.

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To treat the soil, dilute hydrogen peroxide to a concentration of 3 percent in water (1 part peroxide to four parts water) and then water the soil with the resulting mixes.

If nothing works, spray diluted neem oil on the leaves of your houseplants.

The Lifespan of Most Common Houseplant Bugs

Mealybugs                                                 88 Days
AphidsApproximately One Month
Thunder Flies or Thrips30 Days
Spider Mites2-4 Weeks
Whiteflies1-2 Months
Fungus GnatsTemperature-Dependent

Proven Techniques for Debugging All Types of Houseplants

Do you think that summer is the only time to debug your houseplants?

We hate to break it to you, but those cruel plant pests are just as likely to make a home in your collection of houseplants during the colder months as they are during the warmer months.

Additionally, since no natural enemies are wandering about within the home, the insects may gorge themselves to their heart’s delight and reproduce at an alarming rate.

They say prevention is better than the cure, and this is true when it comes to a bug infestation.

If you’re looking to catch this infestation before it develops, or if you’re looking to deal with one, here’s what you have to do.

  • Inspect your houseplants regularly before creepy crawlies make their way in.
  • Effectively debug houseplants without all the nasty chemicals and carcinogens.
  • Prepare an all-natural, organic insecticide with neem oil and clear water.
  • Try Pyrethrum Spray (sourced from the chrysanthemum flower).
  • Wipe down your houseplant leaves with an alcohol solution.
  • Suck up flying insects out of the air with a cleaning vacuum.
How to Kill House Plant Bugs
How to Kill House Plant Bugs

Read Why are my house plant leaves drying up

The Bottom Line

Houseplants serve as a haven from the stresses of the outside world, and just like any other piece of decor or furniture in your home, they need proper bug and pest control.

If you’ve found some nasties hiding in your houseplants, get rid of them as soon as possible. Start off by ensuring that you have a lot of tools and natural, organic solutions on hand.

This will allow you to avoid using dangerous chemicals and choose an environmentally friendly alternative that you will feel comfortable using inside your home.

Now, you know all there is to know about the different ways to kill houseplant bugs. . This brings us to the end of this plant care guide.

Remember, you should try your best to keep the infestation from happening in the first place by looking for signs of an infestation.

If you start seeing the first symptoms of an infestation, use the method mentioned above to deal with the problem as soon as possible.