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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
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Houseplant I.P.M.

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

I.P.M for Houseplants

Whitefly

Greenhouse Whitefly ( Trialeurodes vaporariorum) and sweet-potato whitefly ( Bemisia tabaci) are common insect pests on most houseplants because of their wide range of host preferences. A cloud of whitefly adults will swarm when the plant is disturbed. Upon closer inspection, larvae and pupae can be found on the underside of the leaf along with sticky honeydew. Honey dew is their sticky frass "insect poop" and serves as growing media for growing black sooty mold. Larvae are oval in shape and have a transparent quality and only able to move during the first stage of being larvae. Once a suitable spot on the leaf is found feeding commences. Feeding injury can cause yellowing and plant stunting. The insect goes through a pupation period before it becomes and adult and is able to fly. Adult and larvae feed on plant sap, causing cell damage and capable of transmitting some viruses.

  1. Trap and eliminate flying adults with yellow sticky cards, renew weekly
  2. Use rubbing alcohol to wash off leaves, paying close attention to the underside
  3. Spray Insecticidal soap or Neem oil every 7-10 days until pests are gone

Or

  1. Apply granular systemic imidacloprid for houseplants only if the plant is herbaceous vs. woody

Mealy bugs

Citric mealybugs ( Planococcus citri) are the most visible insect pests on houseplants but can be the most difficult to control because of the waxy coating. Mealy bugs are white and also excrete honey dew due to phloem feeding. They like to congregate in the leaf junctures and on the undersides of th leaves. Mealy bugs go through several instars before reaching adulthood and have a longer lifecycle than most other houseplant insects; surviving 60 days from egg to adult. Feeding injury causes leaf yellowing, plant stunting and wilting.

  1. Use forceable water spray to physically wash off bugs
  2. Use rubbing alcohol to wash off leaves, paying close attention to underside
  3. Spray Insecticidal soap or Neem oil every 7-10 days until pests are gone; Remember 60 day life cycle
  4. Apply granular systemic imicacloprid for houseplants only if the plant is herbaceous vs. woody

Shore flies and Fungus Gnats

Shore flies (Scatella spp.) and Fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.) are fly like houseplant pests whose larvae live in the soil. They are considered a nuisance and only cause problems in high numbers. Shore flies look more like a small housefly and fungus gnats like a small gnat. They are prevalent when there is high organic matter and moisture in the soil.

  1. Let houseplants completely dry out between watering
  2. Do not use compost on houseplants
  3. Trap and eliminate flying adults with sticky cards

Aphids

Aphids (Myzus persicae and Aphis gossypii) are soft round bodied insects with tubes on the end of their abdomens called cornicles. Aphids have piercing sucking mouth parts and produce honeydew. Aphids can become numerous because they do no need to mate to reproduce. Not only can each female give live birth to 100 young, her young is already pregnant when born. This phenomenon is called parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is the reason males are not produced until the very end of the season just to mix up the genetics. Aphids feed on terminal growth and cause young leaves to curl and stunt.

  1. Use forceable water spray
  2. Fill up spray bottle with water and 10 drops of Kitchen soap and spray daily
  3. Spray Insecticidal soap or Neem-oil every 7-10 days until pests are gone
  4. Apply granular systemic imicacloprid for houseplants only if the plant is herbaceous vs. woody

Thrips

Western Flower Thrips ( Frankliniella occidentalis) can cause major damage without being seen. Place a white piece of paper under a flower and tap it or blow on it to cause thrips to move about. Thrips are "thigmatic, "which means they like their bodies to be enclosed so they hide in spots hard to reach. Eggs will hatch into nymphs with sucking piercing mouth parts followed by a pupating stage. Thrips will pupate on the plant but most of the time in debris and soil. They are notorious for feeding on flowers, buds and growing tips. If you have had flowers with white feeding spots on them then that is thrips feeding damage. Thrips can also transmit diseases with in plants.

  1. Remove all flowers and buds
  2. Clean up any debris
  3. Trap and eliminate flying adults with yellow sticky cards, renew weekly
  4. Use Spinosad every 7-10 days

Spider Mites

Two-spotted spider mites ( Tetranychus urticae) are small oval shaped mites with two spots found on the undersides of leaves. When large populations occur spidermites will feed at growing tips and produce webbing. Spider mites nymphs feed on plant before they pupate in the soil or debris. Warm, dry conditions are preferred by spider mites. They feed on the leave underside and remove chlorophyll from leaves. Yellow stippling on leaves are a good indication to turn the leaf over to look for spider mite population.

  1. Use force able water spray to physically wash off mites
  2. Clean up any debris and remove heavily infested foliage
  3. Spray water on foliage to raise humidity
  4. Fill up spray bottle with water and 10 drops of Kitchen soap and spray daily
  5. Spray insecticidal soap every 7-10 days


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