House Plant Pests: Discussing signs of aphids and red mites with instructions on natural aphid control and how to kill spider mites.
It's inevitable that insects, or other house plant pests, will make its way to your plants at one point or another. If you are dealing with pests in your indoor garden, we'll show you a way to eliminate them in a natural way ....tremendous if you have young children or pets in your home.
There ARE ways to do this, and most of them require ingredients that you either have in your home or can get at the grocery store.
Spider mites are not insects. These house plant pests are arachnids, which also includes spiders, ticks, and scorpions. Adult mites normally have eight legs. They do not have antennae or wings. Spider mites are small, often difficult to see without a hand lens.
Color varies with species and even with the time of year: you could have red mites, brown, yellow and green spider mites are common as well.
Here's how they hurt our plants:
They puncture plant tissue with piercing mouth parts to feed on plant juices. Chlorophyll is removed along with plant fluids. As a result, plants infested with spider mites have a white or yellow speckled appearance . The plants will look dull.
These house plant pests feed primarily on the undersides of leaves, out of sight and away from direct sunlight. Heavy infestations discolor leaves. When mites feed on fruit, it causes bronzing or russetting. This discoloration makes the fruit cosmetically unappealing but luckily seldom damages the edible interior of the fruit.
Spider Mite Picture Photo Credit: Mick E.Talbot's
Heavily infested plants drop their leaves prematurely. Mites also tend to congregate on the south and west side of plants. Spider mite infestations are usually localized, occurring on a single branch, isolated in the interior branches or on new growth .
If a spider mite infestation is suspected, carefully inspect individual leaves. Hold a white piece of paper beneath the branch and tap the foliage sharply. Use a magnifying lens (108) to inspect the paper for dislodged mites. They look like tiny, moving specks.
If your plants are being eaten, controlling spider mites by making a solution of buttermilk, potato flour, and water is a great organic spray. A mix of 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 1/4 cup potato flour, 1/2 gallon water. The buttermilk and water should be at least room temperature. Mix the parts together with a kitchen mixer and then pour into a spray bottle.
If this is too thick to use with the spray bottle, add a little more water for a thinner consistency. Put the solution into a spray bottle, put the plant in the bathtub and give a thorough spray covering the entire plant (especially under the leaves).
The mixture will suffocate the mites I would leave the mixture on the plant for around a day, and then rinse it off.
To kill mites with insecticide is effective as well, but will need to be followed up with two to three more doses within a 3 week time period. *Please be cautious of small children or pets that may be in the home when using insecticides bought over-the-counter. There are too many insecticides on the market to give a strong recommendation, but do follow the manufacturers instructions.
An Insecticidal soap meant for spider mites would be my first choice if the organic methods above were not used.
Aphid Picture Photo Credit: Mick E.Talbot's
Aphids, or plant lice, can be found on nearly every species of plant. These house plant pests are particularly troublesome during cool, moist conditions.
Their feeding results are off-colored, distorted or curled leaves. Aphids obtain their food by sucking fluids from plant tissue. They feed on flowers, foliage, twigs, branches, trunks, or roots of woody plants. Most plants tolerate moderate numbers of aphids.
Their excrement, honeydew , is sticky and often signals their presence. Aphids may live entirely on one type of plant, or they may spend part of their development on one plant (host) and then move to a different plant.
Aphids are small, soft bodied insects, about one tenth of an inch long. These house plant pests are typically teardrop shaped and may be winged or wingless. Their long, slender mouth parts are used to pierce plant tissues to suck plant sap.
These insects range in color from pink, yellow, green, gray, deep blue, to black. Most aphids are easily distinguished from other insects by the presence of two tube like projections called cornicles, or “tailpipes”, that project up and out from the rear, upper side of the abdomen.
Aphids tend to congregate on leaves and shoots, particularly at the tips of new shoots. They prefer the undersides of leaves and fresh, succulent new growth for feeding and protection from the sun and drying conditions. Young, swelling leaf and flower buds are favorite targets.
Aphid Picture Photo Credit: Mick E.Talbot's
Small seedlings may be severely damaged or killed by house plant pests, but once plants have five to seven leaves they may "grow through" a moderate aphid infestation. When abundant, aphids can cause serious damage to larger plants. Some species of aphids have “saliva” that when injected into plant cells during feeding causes abnormal, often twisted, plant growth.
This may be the first obvious sign of a heavy aphid infestation. Heavy feeding usually stunts growth, deforms leaves, flowers and fruit, or forms galls on leaves, stems or roots. These house plant pests may transmit plant diseases, such as viruses, from plant to plant as they feed. These viruses cause yellow, mottled or curled leaves and stunted growth. Root feeding aphids also slow growth.
Again, many aphids secrete a sticky, sweet substance called “honeydew”. Honeydew falls onto leaves creating a sticky goo.
Honeydew often supports the growth of sooty mold that gives plants,
fruits, and vegetables a dull, dark cast and makes them undesirable looking. The honeydew and molds can usually be washed off both plant parts and fruits. Fruits are then safe for eating.
A very effective and safe, natural way to control aphids is with a thorough washing of the plant leaves with water.
Aphid Picture w/Babies Photo Credit: Mick E.Talbot's
Another recommendation for controlling aphids is to be an aphid killer yourself. Kill a couple of the aphids (by smashing, etc.) and leave them in the bottom of the pot. They then emit an odor that lets the other aphids know that danger is near and they abandon the plant. If this method is used, do it outside so they can find another home that is not inside yours.
If the above two methods were not used, natural aphid control and organic aphid control methods are available over-the-counter (mostly types of aphid spray). They're too numerous to mention, but could be purchased at a hardware store, etc very easily. Aphid insecticide could be purchased as well.....Effective, but not recommended for environmental reasons.
These are the two most common house plant pests. But with some research, there is a natural solution to many more different insects that can affect a plant’s health.