Signs of Pests on Plants

House plants are a great addition to any home. They add color and richness to our lives, and taking care of them is often easier than people expect. You don’t need to have the magic touch, all you need is to follow basic instructions and know early warning signs of pests. By learning what healthy, normal plants are like you can more easily detect problems. When you can see problems, learning to tell the difference between different issues is the next step.

Healthy plants have strong, straight stems, hold their leaves up high, and have consistent shapes to their leaves. If you notice a plant that doesn’t look quite ‘right’ it’s time for a closer look. In general even if plants are okay, you should look for these signs weekly.

Signs of Pests Hurting Plants

The most obvious things you can notice are plant leaves changing color. This often happens later on in an infestation. You may notice spots, imperfections, or completely yellow leaves. The leaves might curl or distort, wrinkle, or look pinched. Sometimes you may see spider-like webs under the leaves.

You can also sometimes see a fluid called honeydew on your leaves. This leaves them looking shiny and sticky. Mold often grows on honeydew. Because insects that make it never stop making honeydew, nearby surfaces can also get sticky. You can often find pest insects on the undersides of leaves. They stick near new growth and buds and wedge themselves between stems and leaves. Magnifying glasses are helpful, because pests tend to be very small.

Different Signs of Different Pests

Spider Mites
These are tiny mites smaller than a pinhead. You usually won’t see the actual mites themselves. They enjoy hot, dry environments. They leave yellow speckles on leaves, and cause plants a lot of trauma. Heavy infestations lead to the mites producing silk and living in large, webbed colonies. They are the only pests on this list that don’t produce honeydew.

These are very small, green, yellow, black, or white insects with soft bodies. These are the pests that produce honeydew, and leaves they attack turn yellow and warp. Aphids give live birth and reproduce quickly, meaning a healthy plant can get overrun in a single week.

Insects that also produce honeydew. These resemble small white moths and live on the underside of leaves. They cause plants to stop growing, turn leaves yellow, and kill entire plants. They flutter around and stick close to plants when disturbed.

Insects with hard, scaly shells that don’t move. They gather in large groups on steps and under leaves to suck at plant fluids. Scale insects produce honeydew, and they can be hard to get rid of.

Protecting Plants from Pests

Many insects can be stopped simply by getting rid of them early. This is why it’s important to inspect plants regularly. Healthy plants are usually pretty good at fighting off insects on their own. One neglected area that helps plants fight off insects is to dust the leaves regularly. Dust on leaves provides shelter for mites and eggs. Use a clean cloth, damp sponge, or spray bottle – Don’t use dusters! These spread pests! You can learn more about plant pests at our website.

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