How to identify Scale in houseplants & soil?
- These tiny round or oval bugs have the appearance of small shells or bumps.
- The color varies, but may include black, white, brown, red, etc.
- Can be 1/16″ to 3/8″ in size
- Clustered on stems, joints and leaves.
- Barely visible in egg & nymph stages
- There’re 2 types of scale: i) soft & ii) armored scale
- Soft scale: covered with a waxy substance, easier to kill
- Armored scales are tough, protective shells that are difficult to kill even with insecticides
- Scales excrete honeydew excrement after feeding, so one sign of infestation is honeydew
- The Scales most likely appear as a group of “not moving” or stiff bumps on the plant.
- These pests may also crawl or hide near the roots of your houseplants
Facts about Scale Insects
- Scale eggs are protected under the shell by the female.
- Hatching takes 2-3 weeks, and maturing takes 6-9 weeks.
- Plants reproduce even faster indoors than outdoors
- Upon piercing & locking into the plant, they feed on plant sap.
- This causes stunted growth, deformed leaves, yellowing & leaves to fall off.
- An adult scale can be hard to remove, firmly attaching itself to stems
- Scales are most vulnerable during the “nymph” stage, so it is the best time to kill them.
How to get rid of Scales from Houseplants & Soil?
I recommend separating the infected plants from other plants to prevent the scales from affecting neighboring plants. In most moderate infestation situations, Method 3 works well and will eliminate the scales, so I suggest using it first.
Method 1: Stem Removal (physical removal)
If scale is spotted at a young stage, simply cut the stem and leaves off with a pair of shears and keep an eye on the plants for a couple of weeks to be sure they have not appeared again.
Method 2: Rubbing alcohol (household treatment)
The scales won’t fall off right away, but with alcohol the scales will die. Use cotton swabs or pads with alcohol soaked into them and wipe over the scales plugged to the stems.
Remove scales from your houseplants by wiping them all over. Pick them off once a week for a few weeks.
Method 3: Neem oil (natural treatment)
Some scales may be hiding in the soil, along the edges of your pot and can reproduce the infestation. Use 2 tbsp Neem oil, 2-3 tsp mild liquid soap, and 1 gallon of water to make a natural insecticide.
You may also pour some on the soil. Apply the neem insecticide all around the plant, spraying it from all angles. Do this once a week, for two or three weeks. You will get rid of the scales left on the plant permanently.
3. Spider Mites
How to identify Spider Mites in houseplants & soil?
- The spiders are very small.
- Hard to see without a magnifying glass
- Spiders are the closest relatives of any other bugs
- Loves warm & dry houses
- They can be black, red, white, light brown, green or yellow in color
- The fine white webs you find will also likely cover parts of your plants.
- It is difficult to notice spider mites in early stages because the webbing is formed beneath the leaves.
- A spider mite infestation will almost always be manifested by webs.
- Put behind a white piece of paper a stem or leaf infested with them and shake it.
- The paper should be dotted slowly, you should notice.
Facts about Spider Mites
- Reproduces rapidly, eggs take only days to hatch
- It takes a week to reach maturity, the population doubles every two weeks.
- The spider mite does not live in the houseplant soil, but can wander around and hide in the edges.
- It is very harmful to plants since it sucks sap out from stems & foliage.
- Symptoms include bare patches, spots, discoloration, and curling of leaves.
- Plants can eventually lose their leaves, which can eventually cause the plant to die, if not treated immediately.
How to get rid of Spider Mites from Houseplants & Soil?
To prevent the bugs from spreading to other houseplants, quarantine the plant immediately for treatment. I strongly recommend that you employ both Method 1 and Method 2 as soon as possible. This is usually effective enough to rid your houseplants of spider mites.
Method 1: Cut Off Stems & Water Blaster (physical removal)
If the plant is heavily infested, first cut and dispose of bad branches and stems. Take them outside and use a hose to spray them from all angles to fend off as many mites as possible. Put them in a ziplock bag or garbage bag so they can’t escape. The only light infestation will work with this method.
Method 2: Neem oil or Insecticidal soap (natural treatment)
You need to apply insecticidal soap or Neem oil solution every week for two to three weeks to kill any eggs and remaining pests. For Neem solution, mix 2 teaspoons of Neem oil with 2-3 teaspoons of mild liquid soap and one quart of water.
If you observe too many mites crawling on the soil, you may want to pour some solution onto the soil. Chemical insecticides (systemic treatment) are not recommended since they gain tolerance quickly.
How to identify Aphids in houseplants & soil?
- They are very tiny, often smaller than a quarter inch in size.
- Has long antennas
- Born in various colors – black, yellow, greenish, pink, brown or red, etc.
- Some can fly, most can’t
- Most species have 2 pointy needles on their back
- Nymphs and adults look similar
- The population explosion makes it hard to notice
- Your houseplant has been infested with aphids if it develops curling leaves, adhering stuff beneath the stems or leaves, or swarms of tiny dots on the leaves.
Facts about Aphids
- Excretes “honeydew” which can result in molding
- They lay their eggs in the ground in the winter, and on leaves in the warmer months
- Reproduces very fast (asexual) & form a large population.
- Aphids use their pointed needle to puncture plant stems and consume sugary plant sap.
- Injects it’s saliva while feeding & spread diseases
- Withers the plant, deforms new growth, curls leaves, and wounds are not as easy to heal.
How to get rid of Aphids from Houseplants & Soil?
Take measures to isolate your grape plants from all other plants, avoiding spreading the aphids. I recommend following Method 1 and applying Method 2 with Neem oil, which is the most effective of all-natural organic insecticides in my experience.
Method 1: Manual Removal (physical removal)
To spray off aphids on lightly affected stems and leaves, use a hose. To prune off severely infested leaves and stems, use a shear.
Method 2: Neem oil or Insecticidal soap (natural treatment)
Use neem oil solution or an insecticidal soap solution on the aphids to repel them. To prepare Neem solution, mix 2 tbsp Neem oil, 2-3 tbsp mild liquid soap, and 1 gallon of water. You can use insecticidal soap or a Neem solution to kill any hidden eggs or Aphids in the houseplant soil. If you use an organic insecticidal soap, let the cloth soak in it. Every few days for two weeks, repeat the treatment.
Only if the infestation continues heavily should chemical insecticides be considered (systemic treatment) to eliminate them. Be aware that when using systemsic treatments, friendly creatures like the hummingbirds, bees, etc. may be adversely affected. Only outdoor plants are affected by that.
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