Pests?! Not in My House! Houseplants & Beneficials
We’ve heard it said that pets are the new kids and plants are the new pets, if that’s the case then it’s no wonder houseplant enthusiasts want only the best for their leafy roommates! It can be devastating to come home and find that beautiful Philodendron or Prayer Plant suffering from an infestation. In this post on A Bugs Blog, we’ll share some common houseplant pests and which species of Beneficial Insects you can use to combat them.
Bad Bug: Mealybugs
Mealybugs, often known as "woolly aphids," are several different species that have a variety of host plants. They are a particular kind of soft scale covered in a fuzzy, waxy secretion that serves as protection and decreases the efficiency of contact pesticides. Mealybugs harm plants by consuming sap and other cell components. Mealybugs cover the plant with small, white-to-grey cottony/woolly covering, clustering close to the soil or near the growing tips.
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri are known as “mealybug destroyers,” while Ladybugs and Green Lacewings are great, aggressive general predators!
Bad Bug: Aphids
Aphids are very common small crawling insects that reproduce at extremely fast pace, causing infestations to quickly harm your plant. Their color is typically green, but may vary depending on species and what they have been eating. Some species have wings and some do not.
Aphidius, Aphelinus, and Aphidoletes are all genera of parasitic wasps. They work by laying eggs inside the aphid, which then hatches into a larva, and that larva consumes the aphid from the inside…talk about brutal! Bonus: Try hanging a Yellow Sticky Monitoring Trap!
Ladybug feasting on aphids.
Bad Bug: Thrips
A common pest found in greenhouses and indoor/outdoor gardens, Thrips damage plants by sucking their juices and scraping at fruits, flowers, and leaves. Plant leaves may turn pale, splotchy, and silvery, and then die. Injured plants are twisted, discolored, and scarred.
Amblyseius Cucumeris, Hypoaspis Miles, and Amblyseius swirskii are all species of predatory mites, they are a great choice for chemical-free pest control. Bonus: Use our Sticky Thrip Leafminer Trap!
Bad Bug: Spider Mites
There are over 1,200 species of spider mite in the world. However, the two-spotted spider mite is the most common spider mite. Two-spotted spider mites are easily identified by the two "spots" on their back. These mites feed on the underside of leaves causing the stippling damage. In addition, spider mite activity is visible in the tight webs that are formed under leaves and along stems. Spider mites thrive in high heat and low humidity.
There are many species of predatory mites used for spider mite control, however, the most common are Phytoseiulus persimilis and Neoseiulus californicus. Phytoseiulus persimilis strictly feeds on two-spotted spider mites, which makes them an ideal treatment for two-spotted infestations.
Bad Bug: Whiteflies
These white winged flying insects can become an overwhelming problem. They love hot and humid places and usually are present during late spring and summer months. Because they are flying insects, they often appear to come out of nowhere, and can quickly damage plants with their huge appetite. Feeding is concentrated on the leaf undersides.
Release predators such as Encarsia formosa, Delphastus catalinae, or Eretmocerus eremicus at first sight of whiteflies. When using beneficial insects it is always best to catch an infestation early. Encarsia formosa work very well for natural whitefly control while infestations are low. For moderate infestations, it is best to release Encarsia formosa along with Delphastus catalinae simultaneously. Bonus: Use Yellow Sticky Monitoring Traps to monitor and identify whitefly Infestations before they get out of control.
Bad Bug: Fungus Gnats
Adult fungus gnats thrive in moist warm soils and grow mediums, they do not damage plants, but are seen as a nuisance in greenhouses and indoor grows. However, the fungus gnat larvae, which reside in the soil, damage roots and stunt growth, particularly in seedlings and young plants. A wilting, droopy plant may not indicate a lack of water, but rather root damage by fungus gnats. They are usually found in wet, over-watered soils or grow mediums.
Nematodes such as Stenernema feltiae and predatory mite Hypoaspis miles are both predators that attack the fungus gnat larvae in the soil. For high infestations, Stenernema feltiae, Hypoaspis miles, and Dalotia coriaria (rove beetle) will co-exist and may all be released together.
- Remember, when it comes to using Beneficials, you always want to think preventatively. Be proactive and put them to work before you have a bad infestation.
- Sachets (seen in the photo above) are an easy, convenient way to apply beneficial insects indoors and out!
- If you are worried about releasing larger Beneficials like ladybugs or green lacewings indoors, try using insect netting over your plant. This netting can be found at most nurseries/growers supply stores, traditionally used for keeping insects out, in this case, it can be used to keep the good bugs in.
- With most Beneficials, we recommend releasing multiple times during the growing season.
Defeat bad bugs using NaturesGoodGuys Soldier Bugs and get those houseplants looking Instagram worthy again! Tag us on social media and use #NGGHouseplants