What Pest is on My Houseplant & What Can I Do About It?

Looking for a quick and easy way to figure out what kind of pest your houseplant has and how to get rid of them? Then you are in the right place!

This guide will go over brief information for detecting fungus gnats, mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, thrips, scale, whiteflies, root mealybugs, snails, and leaf miners.

It will also link to a more in-depth post on each of the pests so you can get rid of them quickly and effectively.

Table of Contents

Fungus gnats

What to look for:

  • tiny, black flies flying around and near houseplants
  • often found near plants that are watered frequently (like ferns) or are being overwatered, because they thrive and multiply in wet/moist conditions
  • annoying to us, but not typically very harmful to the plants (fungus gnats are usually only a problem in greenhouses were they can amass in numbers that can damage plants at the root level – which is where the larvae live)

How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats For Good in 3 Easy Steps

Mealybugs

What to look for:

  • small, white, ovular bugs that may or may not have tails
  • found in the nooks and crannies of plants
  • often produces a sticky sap while eating, called honeydew
  • this sticky sap can foster growth of black sooty mold
  • is particularly fond of new growth
  • really likes succulent plants

How to Detect and Get Rid of Mealybugs on Houseplants

Aphids

What to look for:

  • tear drop-shaped bugs that can be in many different colors: white, yellow, orange, red, green, brown, etc
  • attracted to new, tender growth
  • often seen lining the stems of plants, but can be anywhere
  • can produce sticky sap while eating, called honey dew
  • honey dew can foster the growth of black sooty mold
  • really likes succulent plants

How to Eradicate Aphids from Houseplants

Spider Mites

What to look for:

  • webbing on, under, or between leaves and stems
  • teeny tiny bugs that move quickly across leaves
  • bugs are often white or red
  • produces discolored spotting across leaves as the bugs eat
  • bugs are so small that it may appear more like dust accumulation than live pests
  • particularly fond of thin leaves and dry conditions

How to Identify and Control Spider Mites

Thrips

What to look for:

  • tiny, rice-like flecks on or under leaves and in flowers
  • distorted, deformed growth
  • tiny spots on leaves from feeding
  • rapidly yellowing leaves

How to Identify and Eliminate Thrips on Your Houseplants

Scale

What to look for:

  • discolored bumps on leaves or stems that can appear scale-like
  • bumps may be brown, light brown, or white-ish
  • stunted plant growth
  • sickly looking plant
  • scale may produce honey dew, or sticky sap, while feeding
  • honey dew can foster growth of black sooty mold
  • particularly fond of succulent plants

How to Identify and Get Rid of Scale on Houseplants

Root Mealybugs

What to look for:

  • plant is no longer growing or is growing extremely slow
  • plant is wilted and not perking up after watering
  • leaves are yellowing and dying at an abnormal rate
  • when inspecting the roots, a white cottony build up is present
  • when looking closely, tiny, white, ovular insects are detected

How to Identify and Control Root Mealybugs

Whiteflies

What to look for:

  • silvering leaves
  • tiny, discolored spots on leaves
  • tiny, white, flying bugs underneath leaves
  • when disturbed, you can see whiteflies fly up from leaf surfaces
  • may cause stunted or deformed growth
  • premature leaf loss

How to Identify and Get Rid of Whiteflies

Leaf Miners

What to look for:

  • discolored trails on leaf surfaces
  • stunted growth
  • premature leaf loss

Coming Soon 🙂

Snails

What to look for:

  • leaves that look partially eaten (because they are!)
  • stunted, deformed growth
  • tiny snails that emerge as the sun goes down to feed
  • snails are not typically a problem if the houseplants are kept indoors, but you can bring snails home with you from the greenhouse. The times I’ve battled snails is because they came as a “fun” surprise with the plants I purchased 🙂

Coming Soon 🙂

Click to Expand Photo Credits

Fungus Gnats

1543763 – Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

1543761 – Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

Mealybugs

5573436 – Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

UGA2187054 – Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Aphids

1599545 – John C. French Sr., Retired, Universities:Auburn, GA, Clemson and U of MO, Bugwood.org

UGA1402117 – R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company , R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Bugwood.org

Spider Mites

5445597 – Ward Strong, BC Ministry of Forests, Bugwood.org

1599803 – John C. French Sr., Retired, Universities:Auburn, GA, Clemson and U of MO, Bugwood.org

Thrips

UGA1243058 – Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

5554210 – Metin GULESCI, Leaf Tobacco, Bugwood.org

5569059 – Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Scale

UGA5122040 – United States National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

UGA5114036 – United States National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Root Mealybugs

UGA5111085 – United States National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

UGA5119053 – United States National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Whiteflies

1599599 – John C. French Sr., Retired, Universities:Auburn, GA, Clemson and U of MO, Bugwood.org

1571483 – Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

Leaf Miners

UGA1263040 – National Plant Protection Organization, the Netherlands , Bugwood.org

UGA1510063 – USDA Forest Service – Region 8 – Southern , USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Snails

UGA5310028 – Pest and Diseases Image Library , Bugwood.org

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