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A Plant Parent's Worst Enemy: Pests

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Every plant parent faces this tragedy at some point; It's inevitable. When your plant starts slowly declining, but you feel like you're doing everything right, it's probably those pesky pests.

In this post you will find information on how to identify common pests and a list of my favorite products to treat them.

Types of pests and what to look for:

Those little devils can be hard to spot, especially if you don't know what exactly you're looking for. Some of the most common houseplant pests include:

1. Spider mites

Image by Scott Nelson

Spider mites can be easier to spot due to their tiny webs they create. They are often found under the leaves or around the base of the stem. The bugs themselves usually look like tiny specs of dust, which are typically white or yellow.

2. Mealybugs

Mealy bugs are very small, white insects. The best way to spot mealybugs is by the white powdery-wax they leave behind on plant leaves, which kind of resembles mold.

Image by My City Plants

3. Aphids

Spotting the bug itself can be pretty difficult, since they are often green and very tiny, making them blend right in. But, some signs you can look for include yellowing and discoloration on the leaves of infected plants. They can also leave a very sticky residue on the leaves of your plants.

4. Thrips

Thrips often leave discoloration on plant leaves, which can appear a brown, yellow, or grayish color. They also leave their poop behind on your plant (yuck!) which will look like extremely tiny black dots.

Image by Brittany Goldwyn

Thrips themselves are black in color and extremely tiny, practically invisible at first glance. If you do spot them though, you will notice they like to hop since they have very tiny wings.

5. Fungus gnats (these ones are especially annoying)

Lastly, and probably the most annoyingly, are fungus gnats. These guys are hard to miss since they love to fly around and bother people. They grow in still water, so if you're a helicopter plant parent that likes to over-water your babies, you know how annoying these guys are.

Image by © Maja Dumat - Flickr | CC BY 2.0

So, How Do You Get Rid of These Darn Pests?

Look no further! Below I have provided a list containing all of my favorite pest products. And the best part: you can find them all on Amazon! (click images and/or titles to be directed to the product; some may be affiliate links)

This product is probably my top pick for any pest issue you may have! The soap foams when rubbed into the leaves, allowing it to coat the plant and kill any pests that may be hiding on it.

- Listed pests that the product kills include "aphids, mealybugs, mites, leafhoppers, psyllids, scale insects, thrips, whiteflies"

Neem oil can be too strong for some plants, so I mainly use it on my Monstera Deliciosas and some of my other philodendrons.

I absolutely love this product for ridding spider mites, but be warned! It doesn't smell too pleasant and will definitely leave your hands and plant babies smelling funky.

- Listed pests that the product kills include "mites, flies, mildew, and more."

This product is a great 2-in-1 if you're dealing with pests and fungal diseases!

Granules are awesome because you can just sprinkle them on top of the soil and they don't wash off quickly. I like to pair this with one of the insecticidal sprays, since it isn't applied to the leaves of the plants.

Listed pests that the product kills include "mealybug, aphids, scale, and more"

This spray is my weekly go-to for maintenance and pest prevention. It's also great for getting rid of pests, but I usually prefer the insecticidal soap over this spray if there is a pest emergency that needs to be fixed ASAP.

The list of bugs this spray treats is quite long! Listed pests that the product kills include "bagworms, borers, beetles, caterpillars, codling moth, gypsy moth, spider mites, loopers, leaf miners, tent caterpillars, thrips and more."

5. Are You Using The Right Soil?

If you're struggling with fungus gnats, you may be using a soil/mix that holds too much moisture. The Thick Mix doesn't contain any soil, making it less water-retaining and gnat-free. It's mixed with coco chips and coir, perlite, clay, charcoal, and earthworm castings. If you're an over-waterer or just struggle with pesky fungus gnats, this is the soilless "soil" for you. (It's made specially to meet the nutrient and moisture needs of philodendrons and other ariods.)

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