Choose a country to see content specific to your location

Skip to main content

Five most common indoor plant pests

CandideZA
Published on May 26th 2021
19
A close up of a plant
It is essential that great care should be taken with your indoor plants, ensuring that they are healthy and pest free.
A close up of a green leaf
Black aphids
Growing conditions indoors provide the ideal environment for indoor plant pests to thrive in. It is warm with lots of light and then, in some instances, there is also the added bonus of humidity. It is thus very important that you know how to identify these pests in order to get rid of them as quickly as possible and to prevent further infestations.
A close up of a piece of broccoli
Red spider mites posted by @floratopia
Regularly check and monitor your plants and their overall look and feel. Changes in leaf colour, spots on the leaves and stems, wilting or even fine webbing underneath leaves can all be signs of pests lurking around.
Top tip: Isolate heavily infected plants from other healthier plants to prevent further spread and infestation.
There are a number of pests and diseases to look out for with indoor plants, but we decided to highlight the 5 most common indoor plant pests, and how you can go about treating these.
A small bird perched on a tree branch
Scale

Scale

There are quite a few different species of scale (Coccidae and Diaspididae families) and they can range in colour from brown, off-white to even purple. They are sap-sucking insects which are quite small and round in appearance with a shell-like outer layer. You will most likely find them underneath or on top of leaves or around leave or stem joints.
A close up of some soft scale insects Coccidae attached to the back of a leaf

Soft Scale

Coccidae

A close up of a branch with a armoured scale infestation

Armoured Scale

Diaspididae

They slow the growth of a plant, can cause premature leave drop or yellowed leaves and can eventually lead to total death of your plant.
Use a contact insecticide with an oil base which will result in the scale suffocating. Remove them by hand once they are dead.
A close up of a green leaf

Mealybugs

Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae families) are generally very small, light pink to white coloured sucking insects. They are cheeky little buggers that hide in all the nooks and crannies, often not seen alone but rather in small colonies on the soft, young parts of a plant.
They are also sap-sucking insects and can cause plant wilting and eventual death of your plant if not treated immediately.
Use contact or systemic insecticide that you repeat regularly if a high infestation is prevalent.
Top Tip: Mealybugs are protected by ants. If you see ants, first control the ants and only then the mealy bugs. The same applies for aphids!
A close up of a plant
Aphids on a Hoya

Aphids

Aphids (Aphidoidea superfamily and Aphididae family) are small, pear-shaped insects that are about 1-2mm in size and can range in colour from black or orange to even green. You will find them on new, soft and young growth of plants and they gather in small colonies and seldomly alone.
They are also sap-sucking insects that will slow the growth of your plants and will cause leaves to wilt and curl up.
A variety of contact or systemic insecticides can be used to treat aphids.
A close up of a plant
Red spider mites

Red spider mites

Red spider mites (Tetranychus sp.) are not insects but rather spiders as the name implies due to their eight-legged bodies. They are so ridiculously tiny that you almost need a magnifying glass to be able to spot them. Because of their size and not being very visible, they are mostly only noticed when the plant starts showing signs of stress like a silver-grey colouring on the top of leaves, eventually leading to leaf drop.
You will find spider mites on the bottom of the leaves where they spin a super fine web. They absorb plant sap and cause leaves to colour and eventually drop. They flourish in warm conditions and can produce a new generation every 16 days. They tend to attack plants that are weak, wilted and not doing very well.
Use a systemic insecticide and ensure that your plants never get to the point of severe wilting.
A bowl of food
Fungus gnats on a sticky carnivorous plant @mudgeface

Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats (Sciaridae) are probably one of the most irritating pests to have in your home! They are pesky little insects that resemble the look of a very small fly or ‘miggie’ and live in and around the soil of your houseplants. They tend to lay eggs in the soil of your plants of which the larvae can cause root damage if you have a severe infestation.
Overwatering is one of the main causes of having the gnats around. Allow the top layer of the soil to dry out and if the infestation continues, consider using larvae or caterpillar insecticide that will target the larvae in the soil that can cause the damage.
A close up of a bottle
These are a few products that we have used before, for your consideration:
  • Neem oil
  • Pyrol (Biogrow)
  • Homemade Insecticide
  • Rubbing alcohol

Share your indoor plant pest solutions with us and remember to include the hashtag #indoorpestadvice!

Related articles

A close up of a plant

In the garden

36

Indoor plant tips

Indoor plants have been around for years but breathed in some fresh air and are taking the world by storm, yet again.
CandideZA
Fiddle leaf fig houseplant
42

Tall indoor plants

Indoor plants are trending globally. Social media is abuzz with plants!
nunodesign
A close up of a flower
105

Trailing indoor plants

Indoor plants are enjoying another renaissance, both globally and locally. The last time plants were trending was in the 1970s...
nunodesign