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Common Plant Pests & How To Deal With Them

Posted on December 13, 2021
common plant pests

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean pests have disappeared. Insects need only a tiny crack to enter your home and target your house plants. Today’s article goes over everything you need to know about common plant pests. This includes how to spot them, get rid of them, and how to protect your plants best.

Spotting A Plant Pest

First, let’s be clear on what a plant pest is. Not all insects are bad. With that said, plant pests will cause harm to your houseplants in an ideal environment to reproduce. Warm and moist conditions mean it’s easy for a few bugs to turn into an annoying pest problem suddenly.

If you notice your houseplant suddenly looking droopy and unwell, it could be a sign of a plant pest. Inspect the leaves for damage such as holes or pieces missing. Next, inspect the soil. Plant pests will typically nest and reproduce there.


Aphids are yellow, green, brown, red or black and found both indoors and outdoors. It takes less than a week for female aphids to hatch and give birth to more nymphs. With a fast reproduction rate, it’s easy for aphids to triple or quadruple in population.

Fruit trees, leafy vegetables, vine-grown vegetables, ornamental shrubs, and some herb species are all plants that an aphid likes to target.

While an aphid feeds on a plant, they secrete a sticky fluid known as honeydew. This fluid can thus attract ants and promote mould growth, which is why you want to address the issue as soon as possible.

plant pests
Physical Removal

There are a few ways to remove aphids physically. You will first want to prune off the infected leaves. If this is a mild infestation, you can remove the aphids with a cotton swab. You can also fill a bucket with water and submerge the plant. Furthermore, spraying the plant will also help get them off the leaves. Lastly, sticky traps are an easy way to get rid of plant pests. Simply set them up near the base of your plant and let the trap do the rest.

Organic/Chemical Removal

Neem oil is a popular tool for getting rid of plant pests. Derived from the neem tree, you can use this oil as a pesticide and fungicide. You also don’t have to worry about harming your plant because neem oil is safe for both plants and ornamentals. Apply the oil on your plants in the evening to prevent foliage burning. It works by reducing the feeding and mating of plant pests.

Insecticidal soap is another option to get rid of plant pests. Place your plant in a bucket or bathtub and spray the soap on the top and bottom of the leaves. Be sure always to follow the instruction label.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are small brown and red plant pests that thrive in warm and dry environments. That means the dry winter air in our toasty house is a prime location for this plant pest to emerge. They like to target strawberries, tomatoes, fruit trees, ornamental flowers, and shrubs.

You may notice small webs along the plant stem or underneath its leaves on your plant. Small brown spots also show leaf damage caused by spider mites.

Physical Removal

Spider mites like dusty areas. Be sure to wipe down the leaves on your plants gently. In addition, try to keep the humidity level up. Turn on a humidifier to keep adequate moisture levels in your home.

house plants
Fungus Gnats

Although they don’t cause considerable harm to plants, fungus gnats can be a nuisance. They resemble fruit flies in size and colour and like moist environments. Like most pests, they also reproduce very quickly. If you find fungus gnats on your plant, keep it away from the others to prevent them from being targeted. They will eat root hairs, fungi, compost, organic mulch, and leaf mould. This means they could strip the soil of nutrients, thus causing your plant to wilt.

Physical Removal

Use sticky traps to help catch and reduce the fungus gnat population. Another way to physically remove them is by disposing of the soil. Remove approximately the top two inches of soil from your plant. You can also add sand as a top layer to help dry out the soil.

Organic/Chemical Removal

Similar to aphids, use neem oil to get rid of them. You can also make an apple cider vinegar solution to lure them out. In a bowl, mix apple cider vinegar with a few drops of liquid dish soap. They will ultimately fall into or ingest the solution.

Protect Your Plants

There are a few ways to protect your plants from plant pests. When bringing home a new plant, quarantine it for a few days. This will reduce the risk of bringing new insects into your home.

Don’t overwater. Many plant pests thrive in moist environments, meaning damp soil makes a perfect home.

Prune damaged or yellowing leaves. Additionally, remove dead leaves that have fallen to the base of the plant. This should help prevent a potential food source.

Is your plant pest issue getting out of hand? Don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. At Martin’s Pest Control, we specialize in all pests found in the Calgary area. Contact us today for a free quote.