HOW TO DEAL WITH COMMON PESTS
Indoor plants are not growing in their natural environment, so if they are stressed because they are not receiving the correct amount of light or water, or the temperature is wrong, this can make them more vulnerable to pests. Here are some of the most common pests to affect houseplants:
Aphids: More commonly known as greenfly, aphids are tiny flies that, despite their common name, may also be red, yellow or black in colour. They are sap-sucking insects that congregate on new growth, leaving behind a sticky deposit, called honeydew, which can then attract sooty moulds, turning leaves black.
Scale insects: These form flat, brown, hard, scale-like structures on stems and the underside of leaves. Similarly to aphids, they feed on a plant’s sap and excrete honeydew.
Mealybugs: Small, white creatures, which resemble woodlice, mealybugs live in clusters in difficult-to-access parts of a plant, such as the leaf axils. The females cover themselves in a fluffy white material, which looks like cotton wool. They also feed on sap and produce honeydew.
Fungus gnats or sciarid flies: Tiny black flies can be seen flying around the plant, and while the flies themselves cause no damage and are more of a nuisance, the larvae can feed on the roots of houseplants.
Red spider mites: Despite the name, these tiny insects are most often a yellowish-green colour. They are usually less than 1mm in size and thrive in warm, dry conditions. They feed on the plant’s sap, causing mottling to leaves. Fine silk webs may also be visible. Thrips: The Banded Palm thrip, in particular, can be a problem for thick-leaved houseplants, such as ficus, dracaena, monstera and palms, causing a silvering of the foliage. They are blackish-brown, with wings that are banded brown and white.
Whitefly: Resembling tiny white moths, these pests feed on plant sap, which can cause the leaves to yellow and die.