How to Deal with Houseplant Pests wallacegardencenter

How to Deal with Houseplant Pests

Get rid of houseplant pests with these helpful hints!

Whether you’re a novice plant parent or a seasoned green thumb, it’s important to regularly check your precious plants for any signs of pests. Bugs and infestations can be devastating to your plants, but most of them are easy to prevent and treat. Here are some common plant pests and how to deal with them.

spider mite infestation on plantSpider Mites

Spider mites, spider mites, creepy-crawly spider mites. Spin their webs, on your plant, will take over if you don’t react. Watch out! Get rid of spider mites. Spider mites are pretty hard to spot. They are tinier than a period at the end of a sentence and reddish-brown in color. You’ll likely notice their damage before you actually notice them. Plants affected by spider mites may have yellowing or curling leaves. The leaves may even eventually fall off. Shining a bright light on the plant may help you spot their tiny webs. If you suspect your plant has spider mites, you can try treating it by:
  • Pruning back damaged leaves.
  • Treating them with neem oil and coco-wet mixture.
  • For severe infestations, try an insecticidal soap.

To prevent future outbreaks, keep your plant well-watered and dust the leaves regularly.

mealy bug infestation on plant


Sometimes plants develop a fuzzy white residue. While it could be a simple fungus or stray floof, you may want to check to see if it’s something more sinister like mealybugs. If the fuzz is persistent and spreading, it’s time to intervene. First, prune back the damage and isolate the plant from the others. You can try hosing your plant down with a showerhead; the force may dislodge the bugs. Then, you can treat the plant with an insecticidal soap spray or apply neem oil.

fungus gnats on sticky traps

Fungus Gnats

While the adult fungus gnats are relatively harmless, the larvae can damage your plant by leaching nutrients from the roots. They’re also a bit unpleasant to have zooming around your house. Fungus gnats are common pests that are attracted to overwatered plants, bright light, and any mold. You can spot the white larvae on the surface of the soil. Treat with neem oil, pyrethrin spray, or with a mixture of one part hydrogen peroxide with four parts water. The peroxide and water mixture can be used to flush the plant to its roots.

ahpids on underside of plant leafAphids

Aphids are another tiny pest that can be hard to spot. They have tiny, waxy, pear-shaped bodies with antennae. They generally cluster together and will leave a sticky substance where they’ve fed. In addition to sticky leaves, you may also notice yellow or curling leaves on your infested plant. If you catch aphids early, you may be able to blast them off with a spritz of cold water or by wiping the leaves with warm, soapy water. For more severe infestations, opt for using neem oil, insecticidal soaps, or horticultural oils.

scale bugs on plant stemScale Bugs

Scale won’t look like any other common pest infestations at all. If you notice clusters of weird brown, tan, or white growths on your plant stem or anywhere near your plant, you may be dealing with scale. Scale is slower-moving than many of the other household pests, but, if left untreated, it will eventually kill your plant. You may be able to gently pry off some of the scale with your hands and q-tips, then treat the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil. If your houseplants are drooping, wilting, or just not thriving, make sure you look them over for any signs of infestation. Pests happen; try as we might to prevent them, know when to cut your losses!

When a plant is completely infested, sometimes it’s best to just let it go and try again. Don’t beat yourself up; it happens to everyone! If you have any questions about common houseplant pests in Bettendorf, contact or come visit us–– we’d love to help!

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