Today let’s talk about houseplant pests. It’s a big concern this time of year as you’re moving plants indoors for the winter. You want to look for signs of infestation as you move plants indoors so they don’t spread to other plants.
One of the most common types of pests we find on indoor plants is small black flies called fungus gnats. These often get into the soil of the plant when they are outdoors and then you transport them inside. A big factor is to make sure you let the soil dry between watering as over moist soil helps proliferate this insect. There is a natural control that you can purchase called Gnatrol. It has Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a natural biological control organism of fungus gnats and this works very well as well.
Another common pest is spider mites. These are tiny eight-legged arthropods that make profuse webbing over the plants that can discolor and dry the leaves out. To see them easily shake the leaves over a light color paper and you’ll see dark moving spots move around. You can physical and chemical controls. Wash off the plants vigorously in a sink or tub to remove the mites. Or apply insecticidal soap or another type of insecticide.
Finally, the last groups are scale insects and melee bugs. These can also be physically removed by wiping down leaves with rubbing alcohol or physically pulling off the scale insects. Or you can use a neem oil-based insecticide, insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. So take care of your houseplants and keep pests from spreading.
You can visit www.utahpests.edu for more information on houseplant pests or other garden pests.
This is Diane Alston with Utah State University Extension.