There are many houseplants that can survive quite happily with little attention, but they can sometimes attract insect pests. While these may not always harm the plant they are at the very least a nuisance and so need to be removed. It is important to spot problems early so that you can take action before the insects multiply. I found an article by Kym Pokomy on the Oregon State University Extension Service website which has some great tips on how to get your indoor pests to bug off without using chemicals.
Insects lurking under leaves, climbing up stems and settling into the soil of houseplants frustrate indoor gardeners to no end.
But there are answers, according to Amy Dreves, an entomologist with Oregon State University?s Extension Service.
?Winter is a good time to check indoor plants for sap-sucking insects like mites, thrips, mealybugs, scales, whiteflies and aphids,? she said. ?Spotting problems and responding to them early can keep populations from exploding.?
Dreves suggests a number of strategies to keep your indoor pests at bay without resorting to chemical controls.
First of all, learn your houseplants? needs and keep them healthy with the correct amount of light, water and nutrition. Stressed plants encourage problems. For example, hot, dry and dusty conditions promote mite outbreaks and feeding plants too much high-nitrogen fertilizer makes for a delicious dinner for aphids.
When you spot a problem, isolate infested plants from others so the insects don?t spread from plant to plant, Dreves said.
If whiteflies are present, you can carefully vacuum them off with a hand-held vacuum, dislodge them with a soft spray of water or wipe leaves with a sponge. If you go the vacuum route, freeze the bag to kill the contents.