Monday, April 18, 2011

Types of Houseplant Bugs and Ways to Control Their Infestation

Sooner rather than later, houseplant bugs will infest your indoor plants, thereby causing them to wilt and shed their leaves prematurely. It is very essential you know more about the different types of house plant bugs and the most effective ways to control their infestation. 


Your house plants are susceptible to attacks from assorted mite pests and insects. Bugs on houseplants are very capable of causing enormous damage to the health and appearance of the plant. When your houseplants are infested by mites, they will look weak or appear not to be growing vigorously. Usually, houseplants bugs can be traced to recently purchased plants or plants received as gifts. To prevent this, try to put your new plants at an isolated spot for at least a period of two weeks. Within the isolation you can easily determine the presence or absence of bugs on houseplants.  


Some of the most popular houseplants bugs are:  


Greenhouse Whiteflies: They are known to prefer greenhouse grown vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers. Plants such as lantana, hibiscuses are also vulnerable to this pest. They are called whiteflies because they are usually covered with fine white wax. They like to suck sap from the plant, thereby causing damage to the plant. During infestation your houseplant will lack vigor and will have dull looking appearance. To subdue the infestation, one can resort to using sticky cards so as to trap adult whiteflies. It is better to apply, organic insecticides, horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps directly, to the leaves by using a sponge.  


Twospotted spider mites: They are one of the most common pests infesting houseplants. They prefer all plants, because they crawl from one plant to another, thereby infesting all the indoor of nursery plants. Twospotted spider mites like to feed on plant sap and will produce small wounds appearing like white flecks on the outer plant cells. The beginning of the infestation more or less looks like small patches on the underside of the leaves, at the base of the leaf veins. Bit by bit, as the infestation grows, the leaves develop a grayish appearance.  


You can easily spot the webs, if the infestation is major. Heavily infested leaves will drop prematurely. Unless caught in the very early stages of infestation, spider mite infestation is usually deadly. They are very difficult to eliminate and your best recourse is to discard all the plants infested, since these will serve as breeding grounds for new infestations. Sanitize the infected area and try to maintain top quality growing conditions to keep them at bay. Another way to control their spread is by repeatedly washing the small plants with jet of water. This will pressure the eggs and nymphs to get washed off. 


Mealy bugs: They look soft but deadly effective at sucking sap from plants, thereby weakening it and causing its leaves to shed prematurely. They generally prefer, poinsettia, jade, lantana, coleus and cactus.  These pests are known to affect various regions of the plant, from the root to the leaves. While infestation on the leaves is the most visible; frankly, these pests are mostly seen in the roots. The best way to get rid of bugs on the leaves of your houseplant is to swab individual mealy bugs with alcohol or insecticidal soap to curb their population. You can also apply insecticides like disulfoton and imidacloprid, which are also quite effective soil applicants.  


Fungus Gnats: They look tiny and are dark colored. They like to fly across the soil surface. While a nuisance, the fungus gnats do cause little or no damage to the houseplants. Best ways to control them is to change soil moisture conditions. Since the fungus gnat larvae feed mostly on decaying plant material, changing soil moisture conditions will help. Apply yellow sticky cards to help capture the adult gnats.  


Other known houseplant bugs are Aphids, Thrips, soft scales, armored scales and springtail. There are several ways to get rid of bugs on houseplants. You can start by washing your plants repeatedly with jets of water, which will help curb aphid and spider mite population. Hand picking method can be used to control larger houseplant bugs like mealy bugs. Vacuuming can help get rid of whiteflies. Furthermore, trapping some of these insects using bright colored sticky cards can also be very useful.

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