You are here: Home > Gardening Help > Care & Planting > House Plant Pests

Common Houseplant Pests to Watch Out For!


Aphids, Mealybugs, Scale and Spider mites are the most common house plant pests. If not properly treated, any one of these bugs could cause serious damage, even death, to your plants.


Mealybugs: crawling insects that are closely related to scales. As the pinkish bugs mature, they form a white cottony mass. They damage plants by sucking out sap of the underside of the leaves. This may cause leaf distortion, yellowing, stunting and the death of the plant.

--best solution is to dip a cotton swab in alcohol and touch it to the colony of pests. These are difficult pests and if the plant is overwhelmed, it may need to be tossed.


Aphids: green, red, pink, brown or black soft-bodied insects that infect most garden plants. Aphids are usually about 1/8” long. This sucking insect causes foliage to curl up and become discolored and fall off.

--mist the plant with water, regularly, to keep these pests at bay. If the pests are out of hand, an insecticidal soap works best.


Scale: Oval shaped insects that are found on the undersides of leaves. They are usually yellowish-green, brown or black. Scales insert their mouth parts into the plant and suck sap throughout the summer and fall. Affected plants will yellow and die.

-- a 1:1 mix of alcohol and water sprayed on the scale. You may need to rub gently with a cotton ball to remove the scale. These pests are persistent, so make sure that you check regularly.


Spider Mites: minute pests found on the undersides of leaves. If not treated promptly, spider mites may spin fine webs which will eventually cover the entire plant. Mites have a speckled appearance. In a dry environment, these insects multiply quickly.

--80% of these pests can eliminated by gently washing the plant with water, either misting with a hose or in the kitchen sink. Regular misting is a preventative measure that I highly recommend Then treat with an insecticidal soap.


Prevention is the key to maintaining pest-free plants. Be watchful, and be sanitary! Water plants in the morning. Keep plants clean with a regular shower, especially effective with spider mites. Supplies and soil should be sterile. Let fresh air circulate between the plants. Check them often. And, don’t immediately resort to “chemical warfare” at the first sign of trouble. Look for alternatives that are plant derived; these products are now easy to find.