Updated: Oct 11, 2021
I have always had the most problems with Spider Mites and Mealy Bugs on my houseplants. It's nothing to be afraid of because you can get rid of them over a little bit of time. Once you agree to love a houseplant you are also going to agree to fight off these pests, just like you would on your landscape plants in your yard! Below I talk about how to get rid of these guys and how to prevent them.
These evil pests can be found in all the nooks and crannies of your houseplant. It almost looks like tiny parts of cotton ball are stuck on your plant as seen in the picture to the right
Want to know how you have them? They are very easy to see because they are stark white fuzzy specks on your plant. You will mostly see them where leaves meet the stem but they aren't too picky about where they want to sit down and enjoy their meal. They remove the plant's sap which can weaken your plant and stunt its growth. If there is a larger infestation, the leaves may begin to yellow, wilt or you may lose some leaves overall. There will be be a noticeable decline in your plants health too. No type of plant is safe from this guy. I have had these bugs on a Pothos, Monstera, Philodendron, Prayer Plant, Hibiscus, Mandevilla, Dieffenbachia and more.
What is the best way to get rid of them and prevent them? You need to visually check your plants often and just look for tiny cotton looking bugs in the corners of the leaves and stems. Using a Systemic Houseplant Insect Control to prevent an infestation from the beginning is a good rule of thumb. If you already have an infestation problem, I would suggest cutting back some of your plant. This will help control the spread and you have less surface area to maintain. That being said, if you really don't want to cut back your plant because the overall health of your plant is okay, you don't need to. It may take longer to clean and it may take a bit longer for the pest to go away. As discussed in the video, Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil are the products I have had the most luck with to remove Mealy Bugs. You will need to repeat the cleaning process, discussed in the video, (weekly) until there is no longer a sign of them.
But most of the time Spider Mites live and feed on the underside of the leaves. In the image on the top right you see a Hibiscus leaf covered by webbing and little tiny white dots. Those white dots are the spider mites and the webbing is what the product looks like ALL over your leaves.
Want to know how you have them? Well it's actually pretty easy to spot once they've produced webbing. But most people don't notice them until they have already done damage to the leaf.
The image on the bottom right shows an Elephant Ear leaf that is discolored and has a somewhat specked texture. This is because when the Spider Mites feed on the leaves they also remove chlorophyll which gives leaves their color. But since they live on the underside of leaves it is best to visually check your plant's leaves often. A trick one of my co-workers from the garden center, Marianne, taught me was to take a white sheet of paper and gently rub the bottom of the leaf onto the piece of the paper. If you see little tiny dark dots or what looks like tiny bugs smeared onto the paper, you have spider mites!
What is the best way to get rid of them and prevent them?
As I talked about in the video, visually check your plants often while using a Systemic Houseplant Insect Control to prevent Spider Mites from infesting. If you already have an infestation problem, I would suggest cutting back some of your plant so the mites are easier to control and you have less surface area to maintain. That being said, if you really don't want to cut back your plant you don't need to. It will just take longer to clean and it may take a bit longer for the pest to go away. Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil are the best products to spray onto your plants to remove these mites. You will need to repeat the cleaning process, discussed in the video, (weekly) until there is no sign of them.
Below are links to the products I like to use...
And you can use any old makeup brushes, paint brushes & towels! But remember to clean them after EVERY use!
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One insect that was not discussed that I also had issues with are Aphids. They are also very difficult to get off, but not impossible. They usually feed on strictly newer growth, so check those spots first. You can use the same preventative measures and insect control sprays I discussed above but I would also spray down this plant with your hose outdoor to shock and remove the insects before you begin treatment every week. If you don't have a hose, you can use a spray bottle that has a bit harder stream option.
Always written with extreme plant passion!