Houseplants are a great way to add greenery to your home and make it feel cozy. Aside from the aesthetic they bring, plants help purify indoor air and increase humidity.
Unfortunately, they also attract unwanted pests like aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, and mealybugs, which could lead to their early death.
So on this page, I will tell you how to prevent pests on indoor plants. These preventive measures are easy to follow and don’t require any money.
But first, you need to understand who you’re fighting up against. Hence, we will first address the common houseplant pests and how they operate.
9 Most Common Types Of Houseplant Pests
Aphids are the bane of many a gardener’s existence. They are tiny, sap-sucking insect that feeds on the juices of many different plants, causing them to look unhealthy, yellowed, or wilted.
If you have indoor plants, chances are high that Aphids could be at the corner.
They thrive both outside and inside. And you can quickly identify this nuisance by their small black or green bodies with the sticky honeydew they excrete.
Mind you, this excretion is yummy to ants and can invite sooty mold.
It’s common for indoor plants to become infested with mealybugs, tiny little bugs with white, waxy bodies and long cottony tails.
Mealybugs aren’t known for their stingers or venomous bites; they’re harmless. However, they can cause extensive damage to your plants if left untreated.
They lay eggs on the undersides of leaves and stems, feeding off sap until they’re ready to hatch into more mealybugs. These insects feed by sucking sap from the plant until it dies from a lack of nutrients or water.
If you notice any signs like white cocoons or cottony material on your indoor plants, chances are good that they have been infested with mealybugs.
They excrete honeydew, too, so keep that in mind.
3. Cyclamen Mites
These mites are small and difficult to spot with the naked eye, but they can cause extensive damage to your plant’s leaves, stems, and flowers.
Cyclamen has this waxy look that is slightly tinted brown. They cluster under your plant’s leave.
The mites feed on the sap of plants by piercing the leaf cells with their mouthparts.
This causes the leaf cells to die off, resulting in wrinkling, darkening, browning, and curling of leaves, stunted growth, and yellowing.
4. Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats are severe pests that can destroy indoor plants, especially in the spring and fall when they are most active.
They are only about 1/8 to 1/10 inches long flies zipping around plants.
They look harmless but first infest the soil laying down eggs that turn to larvae, and have a voracious appetite for plant roots, which makes them a significant problem for indoor gardeners.
This insert grows in damp soil and mulch.
So they can burrow into your plant’s roots and damage its ability to absorb nutrients. This can cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves, making it challenging to identify the problem when it first starts happening.
Whitefly is a tiny, white insect that sucks the sap from plants and leaves behind a sticky honeydew substance.
This makes your plants more susceptible to disease and attracts new pests like ants and mealybugs.
They look like moths but leave traces of their powder-like covering.
Whiteflies are most common in tropical climates but can be found almost anywhere.
They are attracted to light and leaves but can enter your home through open windows or doors or cracks in the foundation of your house.
6. Red Spider Mites
The red spider mite isn’t a friend to your plant. Whenever you see this eight-legged insect that looks like a spider around it, it is up for a mission.
This pest can wreak havoc on your plants and cause them to die prematurely without you knowing it until it’s too late.
They’re most harmful when the weather is hot and dry. At this point, they suck moisture from plants and cause mottling or webs in extreme cases—challenging to eradicate.
7. Scale Insects
Scale insects are a type of sap-sucking pest that can be found all over the world. They thrive in warm, dry climates and can survive without food for months.
There are many species of scale, but they all have one thing in common: they lay eggs on or under their host plant’s leaves and stems.
These eggs hatch into small crawlers called nymphs, which start sucking nutrients from their host plant before transforming into adults.
Adult scales look like tiny bumps on leaves or stems—they’re usually pale yellow or brown and covered with a powdery substance called wax that protects them from predators.
While these little pests aren’t harmful to humans, they can cause significant damage to your indoor plants!
If left untreated, scales will suck all the nutrients out of your plant until it dies entirely within about two weeks.
They secrete a waxy substance called “honeydew” that is also inviting to ants.
The most common culprit is a thrips. Thrips are tiny insects that feed upon plant tissues and can cause significant damage to plants.
These minor, dark brown bugs hop around plants. With their unique asymmetrical mouths, they pierce leaves and flowers to suck sap—resulting in silver mottling on the foliage and red globs beneath it that turn black over time.
The feeding causes leaves to curl, turn yellow, or cause plant parts to die.
9. Vine Weevils
Vine weevils are one of the worst pests to attack your plant.
This voracious beetle-little insect is one to show no mercy.
The larvae look like tiny white worms, and they eat the roots of your plants. Once done with the roots, they move on to the stems and leaves.
The adult weevils are about 1/4 inch long, brownish-yellow, with red markings on their wings.
They lay eggs on the underside of leaves, so if you see white deposits on the underside of your plant’s leaves, chances are you have vine weevil larvae.
How To Prevent Pests On Indoor Plants
There are many ways to prevent pests on indoor plants. Some of these methods are more effective than others, but they all have the same goal: to keep your plant healthy and thriving.
Let’s look at them below:
Don’t Overwater Your Houseplants
Watering your houseplants is essential to keeping them healthy, but if you overwater them, you risk inviting pests and diseases into your home.
YES, you heard that right!
Damp, wet environments attract fungus gnats and other common pests.
And if the pest doesn’t kill it, the water will. It’s a severe dilemma.
Because overwatering can cause your plant’s roots to rot and eventually kill it, the best way to prevent this is by watering your plant so that the top of the soil feels moist but not soggy.
Wait until the top of your soil is dry before watering again, as flea eggs and larvae cannot survive in such conditions.
2. Inspect The Plants Regularly For Signs Of Pests
Inspecting your indoor plants regularly for signs of pests is a preventive measure that can help you catch infestations early.
This is especially important if you are growing your plants in pots or other containers, making it easier for pests to find their way into the soil.
And since they don’t announce their presence, investigating will help.
Hence, if you aren’t inspecting the plants as often, it may take some time before you realize that there are pests in them. By then, the damage may have already been done.
Look for specks on the undersides of leaves, spider webs in the crooks where branches meet larger limbs, and small hard bumps clustered along stems.
Are the leaves turn yellow or have spots? Look for mold or fungus growing on the soil; watch out for wilting.
If you notice signs of pest infestation, quarantine the affected plants immediately and treat the problem quickly. Look for leaves that are yellowing or have spots; look for mold or fungus growing on the soil; watch out for wilting.
3. Ensure The Plants Have Good Air Circulation
You prevent pests by ensuring that your plants have good air circulation.
It helps liminate chances for pests multiplying and thriving in the plant’s soil.
Therefore, ensure there is proper ventilation in the space. Give the plants a nice little break outside sometimes.
4. Give Them A Nice Wash
Washing your plants with tepid water can help remove dust from the leaves, make them healthier, and reduce the chance of pests by ensuring that all parts of each plant aren’t dirty to lure them.
5. Keep Your Plants Healthy!
Raise the humidity around your houseplants, but not too much. Most plants need a level of 40-60% level to thrive. If your home gets really dry during winter, consider using a humidifier near your plants when needed.
Also, pick away any fallen leaves and organic matter (such as rotting logs) that may lie on top of the soil.
Damp leaves, for example, provide an ideal breeding environment for pests such as slugs or snails—small mollusks with soft bodies often found in damp environments like forests.
Ensure they get enough light, fertilizing during the growing season in the proper pot size with well-draining potting soil.
Pest management is essential for anyone who grows or keeps indoor plants.
And with a bit of time and energy, you can easily take care of any problem. It can achieve magnificent results without damaging your greenery with insecticide or other chemicals.
Remember, prevention is better than cure!
NOTE: if you purchase locally grown plants, they have likely been inspected for potential pest infestations, ensuring you properly quarantine them before bringing them home.
Another thing to consider is where you plant. If a plant is kept in a sheltered area and does not receive too much sunlight, it will likely experience less insect activity than one in a very sunny window that may attract insects with its warmth.
Targeted spraying is also less likely if your plant receives enough sunlight and moisture.