Indoor plant pest identification

Written by laura reynolds | 13/05/2017
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.

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

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

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.

Grey-brown patches

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

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.

Holes in leaves

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

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

Drooping or stunted leaves and branches

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

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

Dying roots and stems

Indoor plant pest identification
(Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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.

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