What Color of Sticky Traps Do You Need for Different Houseplant Pests?

Sticky traps are often listed as tools that you can use for houseplant pest control and monitoring.

If you are considering the use of sticky traps but you aren’t sure which to use, whether they work, or how to use them properly, keep reading!

This blog post will answer all of these questions and more. 🙂

Table of Contents

What color of sticky traps do you need for different houseplant pests?

Houseplant pests are naturally attracted to a variety of colors, which is why sticky traps are available in several colors. The most common sticky traps are blue and yellow.

Yellow sticky traps are used to catch thrips, whiteflies, aphids, leafminers, and fungus gnats.

Blue sticky traps are used to catch thrips and leafminers.

No sticky traps are effective at trapping mealybugs, scale, or spider mites.

You may have noticed that thrips are listed under both blue and yellow traps. Which one is recommended for thrips monitoring?

Both are recommended equally. While some specific types of thrips are more attracted to blue or yellow, all thrips are attracted to blue and yellow to some extent.

If I was particularly concerned about trapping and identifying any thrips in my home, I would probably use both blue and yellow sticky traps to be super thorough.

thrips on plant what color sticky traps
Thrips on a plant – yuck!

Sticky traps are good for monitoring pest presence, not for controlling pest populations

Sticky traps are a great way to monitor plants for pests. Sticky traps do not control populations.

If you are looking for a way to eliminate pests, sticky traps aren’t it, unfortunately.

Instead, sticky traps are sort of like an extra pair of eyes, luring in some pests to make them easily visible to you. They are a houseplant hall monitor looking for troublemakers!

In other words, sticky traps are used to confirm the presence of pests and how large the infestation is.

Manual checks are still be needed and recommended as well.

Why do you still need to do manual checks for pests?

Several pests aren’t attracted to sticky traps consistently, which means that pests can fly under the radar because they aren’t getting stuck to the traps.

Some pests aren’t attracted to sticky traps at all.

AND, even those pests that are captured by sticky traps can reach high numbers in some circumstances before finding a sticky trap,

Why are sticky traps only effective at monitoring?

Typically, only adult pests with the ability to fly are caught by sticky traps.

This means that the juvenile populations are still able to multiply and damage plants without the risk of getting stuck to traps.

AND, some pests do not develop wings consistently (like aphids and mealybugs), which means that they can go undetected for long periods of time.

As such, manual monitoring and control are required to effectively eliminate pest populations. Sticky traps are a good way to provide another means of identifying pests.

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How do you use sticky traps?

sticky traps staked into plant and catching pests what color sticky traps
Sticky traps staked into a houseplant and catching pests

Sticky traps can be staked into a houseplant’s potting mix or hung near or within the plant itself

Sticky traps staked into the potting mix work well to capture fungus gnats (as they live in the top layer of soil).

To catch other pests, it is more effective to hang a sticky trap right above your plants or within the top section of the plants near new growth and where it is easily visible.

sticky traps catching fungus gnats what color sticky traps
Here you can see someone placed sticky traps on the potting mix directly to catch fungus gnats and it is definitely working!

Do you need a sticky trap in every plant?

No. Most sticky traps can be used to monitor a large area.

You can place them periodically throughout your plant collection, but you absolutely do not have to put a sticky trap in every plant (unless you want to).

After placing a sticky trap in your plant, monitor what pests show up and how many of them get trapped

The more pests you see stuck to the sticky trap, the bigger the infestation is.

Knowing whether the pest population is large or small can help you to decide what kind of pest treatment your plant may need.

For example, perhaps a homemade spray would work well for a small infestation. Whereas a large infestation might be better controlled through systemic pesticide or very frequent insecticidal soap applications.

You can also replace sticky traps during treatment to monitor whether the pest population is getting smaller.

If you are using sticky traps and you aren’t sure which pest you’ve caught, click here to see a blog post with photos and text descriptions of what each common houseplant pest looks like.

Why do sticky traps only work for certain pests?

blue and yellow sticky traps hung in a tree what color sticky traps

Sticky traps are most effective at luring adult pests with the ability to fly. Scale and spider mites do not possess the ability to fly. Mealybug adult males can sometimes fly, but pest populations can be out of control before a flying adult male finds a sticky trap.

Aphids also develop wings inconsistently and may not be identified fast enough on sticky traps to be an effective monitoring system.

So, sticky traps are a great way to make monitoring a little bit easier (particularly for pests like thrips, whiteflies, and fungus gnats) when used in conjunction with manual monitoring.

Is there a way to make sticky traps more effective?

Yes! You can add specific scents or pheromones to your sticky traps to make them particularly alluring to different pests.

Arbico Organics, one of my favorite organic pest control businesses, recommends adding lemon essential oil to attract thrips, fungus gnats, mealybugs, and scale. They also recommend using cinnamon essential oil to make traps more appealing to thrips and leafminers.

I haven’t tried this yet, but I plan to experiment by adding lemon essential oil soon. I will report back in the future with how the experiment went! 🙂

How long do sticky traps remain effective?

Sticky traps are effective as long as they are still sticky enough to trap pests.

Big Takeaways

  • Stick traps are a great way to monitor your plants for pests while still doing manual checks periodically
  • However, sticky traps are not good at controlling pest populations
  • Sticky traps can attract adult pests with the ability to fly
  • Yellow sticky traps attract fungus gnats, aphids, whiteflies, thrips, and leafminers
  • Blue sticky traps attract thrips and leafminers

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