Indoor plant pest identification

Written by laura reynolds
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Indoor plant pest identification
(Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Even when indoor plants are quarantined, inspected and washed with insecticidal soap, bugs can appear. Check the damage from these pests and identify them before they become a plague.

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Sap and sticky spots

Aphids, whiteflies and scales excrete sweet waste called "honeydew" as they eat young leaves and shoots. Although attacks by these pests seldom kill a plant, they can leave it weakened and vulnerable to infections or moulds.

Specks or spots

Whiteflies, mites, aphids and mealybugs leave yellow mottling in leaves they attack. Mites and whitefles leave webbing between new growths as they graze. Spider mites are tiny red specks that move as they feed.

Indoor plant pest identification
Tiny spider mites can be identified by their red colour. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Thomas Shahan)

Grey-brown patches

Scales create hard, roundish exoskeletons, usually on the undersides of leaves as they reproduce. As they eat the leaf, it develops yellow spots on its surface. Leafminers leave wiggly brown trails.

Indoor plant pest identification
Scale shows up on the undersides of leaves as hard, dark spots. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Sabrina Mae)

Holes in leaves

The majority of houseplant pests consume sap; holes in leaves mean that a chewing insect such as a beetle or caterpillar is at work.

Indoor plant pest identification
A wide variety of beetles eat leaves. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Louise Docker)

Drooping or stunted leaves and branches

Mites, thrips and aphids "suck the life out" of new growth, leaving it shrivelled and weak. Mealybugs also leave honeydew.

Indoor plant pest identification
Bugs that draw sap attack young leaves. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Cristina L. F.)

Dying roots and stems

Maggots of a number of damp-dwelling bugs may be deposited in garden pots by garden or shower stall-dwelling bugs including fungus gnats and springtails.

Indoor plant pest identification
(Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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