Compared to growing plants outdoors, indoor plants tend to experience fewer problems, making them popular with many homeowners due to their easy maintenance. however, they are prone to some problems, and a common concern is whether houseplants attract insects.
Do indoor plants attract insects?
yes, houseplants attract insects. They are typically attracted to indoor growing conditions that have high humidity or lack of air circulation. the most common pests are aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, mealybugs, scale, thrips, and whiteflies.
Reading: Do indoor plants attract bugs
Maintaining good growing conditions, watering properly and inspecting your plants regularly will help keep infestations low and allow you to treat them quickly, minimizing damage to your plants.
It is likely that if you are reading this, you have some errors and you are looking for information about them. you’re lucky! Read on to learn more about why you might have bugs, and how to identify, eradicate, and prevent them. I will also talk about which houseplants are more resistant to pests.
growing conditions that attract houseplant pests
Usually, problems with insects arise due to indoor growing conditions that attract them, with damp and wet conditions being the biggest culprit.
high humidity can attract pests to indoor plants
many insects have the ability or sixth sense to move to an area with high humidity. Due to their small body size, they need to keep their bodies moist or they will dry out and die, forcing them to seek out areas where humidity levels are higher.
high humidity conditions are typically caused by the following:
- climatic conditions: areas closest to large bodies of water (i.e., the South, Pacific Northwest, and other coastal areas) or those that experience higher levels of precipitation They have a higher relative humidity level than desert areas such as Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of the Intermountain West. this naturally higher humidity level maintains a higher humidity level inside your home.
- Overwatering: Regardless of the climate you reside in, giving your plants too much water or watering too often is one of the biggest culprits for high humidity levels around immediately to your indoor plants. Soggy, overwatered soils will raise relative humidity levels around the plant as water evaporates from the soil surface.
- Standing Water: This is somewhat related to over-watering, but more so to how much water you give your plant each time. Watering too much at one time is problematic if you have saucers under your containers to catch the water that runs off your pots.
lack of air circulation
Air movement around the plants is very important to help keep the humidity level from getting too high, but it also prevents insects in other ways. Increasing ventilation speeds soil drying and slows fungal growth, making your houseplants a less hospitable place for bugs to live. lack of air circulation can occur for a couple of different reasons:
- no space: placing plants too close together is the main reason for poor air circulation through the foliage. Although grouping your plants together can be helpful to increase humidity where needed, try to keep your plants from touching each other as this will decrease ventilation around the foliage.
- No air movement: Some areas of your home may not be close to windows, doors, vents, or receive the gentle air movement created by ceiling fans or people walking by. move your plants to an area that is better ventilated, leave a window open, or consider using an oscillating fan if necessary.
If you have bugs on your houseplants right now, read my article on how to get rid of them naturally. This covers some great options to easily eradicate any bugs on your houseplants using natural and environmentally friendly treatments.
common insects on indoor plants
The variety of insects you find on houseplants is much less than what you find on outdoor landscape and ornamental plants. When it comes to houseplants, there are fewer than a dozen insects that are common nuisances: aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, mealybugs, scale, thrips, and whitefly.
Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that love to cling to houseplants and cause considerable damage over time. they secrete honeydew, a sticky liquid, which can be found on the leaves and stems. houseplants affected by aphids develop distorted leaves and yellowing foliage, often leading to leaf drop.
One of the biggest challenges with these tiny pests is that they reproduce prolifically and can become abundant very quickly.
spiders can be difficult to spot due to their small size. Look for fine webs among the foliage of your plants and check both sides of the leaves for evidence of these tiny insects which are usually less than 1mm across and come in a variety of colours.
Spider mites pierce the leaves of houseplants to get to the liquid they contain. Plants affected by spider mites may develop stippled discoloration or widespread yellowing of the leaves. The first sign of a problem is spotting the fine webbing they produce, but you’ll need to inspect your plants closely for them.
Spider mites reproduce rapidly and a large population can develop before it is noticed. Often, it is the physical change in the plant’s appearance that leads plant owners to inspect for these houseplant bugs. Learn everything you need to know to get rid of mites in this article.
Fungus gnats are a nuisance, and while their damage to plants is usually minor, the adults become a nuisance when they make their way into living areas of your home or congregate around windows .
Although the adults are more of a nuisance, the immature larvae, which grow in the soil, can damage your plants by feeding on the roots. the larvae develop mainly on decaying plant matter or fungi that occur naturally in the soil. immature midges cause plant damage by carrying pathogens into the soil or by creating wounds in plant roots.
Fungus gnats are easy to spot as they are very small, dark-colored flies that buzz around houseplants. I’ve written an entire article on how to get rid of fungus gnats, if you’d like more information.
Mealybugs are pink, soft-bodied insects that are normally covered in a white, cotton-like material. Their white, fluffy coat protects them from drying out due to low humidity or excess heat, but makes them very easy to spot on houseplants.
Mealybugs are more likely to be found in groups than individually, and they prefer sheltered areas of the plant, such as where leaves adhere to stems.
Mealybug infestations can cause stunting or stunting of leaves, especially new leaves, due to the damage they cause by feeding on the foliage. mealybugs also produce honeydew, which can cause the plant to develop sooty mold.
Scale can be found on a wide range of houseplants, as well as other fruit and shade trees. Scale insects that attack houseplants come in two different varieties: soft and armored scales. both look like small brown bumps on the foliage, with soft scales being the most common.
As the names suggest, soft scales lack a hard coating, and instead have a cotton-like, waxy, powdery coating for protection. armored scales have a hard, shield-like coating made up of shed skin and wax. this protects them against natural predators and chemical insecticides.
Mealybugs pierce foliage, stems, and branches to feed on the sap within these plant tissues. the plant may develop damage symptoms as a result of this.
Leaf drop and widespread leaf yellowing are common symptoms caused by a mealybug infestation on houseplants. You may also see yellow spots on the leaves, as well as wilting, stunted growth, and a general decline in vigor. to differentiate types of scale, look for honeydew secretions; soft scale secretes a large amount of molasses, armored scale does not.
thrips are tiny (rarely more than 1/16 inch long), slender insects with fringed wings. They also feed on the sap of indoor plants. Plant lesions appear as leaf spots that eventually turn pale, progress to a silvery color, and then die. Worse than damaged tissue are plant viruses that are commonly transmitted when thrips feed.
The whitefly is closely related to scale and aphids and is often mistaken for tiny white moths or even mealybugs. the insects are usually pale in color, almost translucent, and covered in a powdery whitish wax.
When the host plant is disturbed, they quickly take flight, making treatment difficult. both nymphs and adults are sap suckers and exude honeydew. symptoms of infestation include stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, and leaf drop.
the best and worst plants for insects
Some plants are naturally better at repelling insects, while there are some species that are predisposed to trouble.
best indoor plants that resist pests
Plants that are known to repel insects or have fewer insect problems are often scented or have a waxy cuticle that prevents insects from piercing the leaves.
- snake plant
- chinese evergreen
- air plants
- cast iron plant
- grape ivy
- mosquito plant
- jade plant
- venus flytrap
- herbs (basil, chives, chamomile, lavender, and mint)
the worst indoor plants for insects
It is difficult to really name specific plants that are more prone to insects than other species. houseplants that do best in high humidity conditions or like a lot of water will definitely attract more bugs than those listed above.
some lovers of high humidity that can attract insects:
- peace lily
tips on prevention & minimizing insect damage to houseplants
One of the best ways to deal with insects on your plants is to prevent them from establishing themselves in your home. The following tips can help you prevent and minimize damage caused by bugs.
- Carefully inspect new plants before bringing them into your home. nurseries, where many plants are grouped together in moist environments, are more prone to insects. checking a new one before adding it to your collection can save you a headache in the future.
- Keep some space and good airflow between your houseplants. group them in an arrangement but leave a few inches of space between containers or plant foliage.
- Remove dead or diseased tissue/leaves from plants as soon as you notice them. this includes anything that falls off the plant and falls to the surface of the potting soil. soil debris is an attractive space for insects.
- Inspect your plants for insects if you move them outside and then bring them back into your home. there are more bugs outside and they will try to get inside if they can.
- Check your plants routinely for insects. early detection usually means less damage and the infestation is easier to treat. Get in the habit of visually inspecting your houseplants every time you water.
- When repotting potted plants, avoid the temptation to use old potting soil, especially if the package was previously opened and left to sit in a garage or shed. may contain insect eggs.
- When you find bugs, quarantine your plant from any others by moving it to another space. this can prevent infection of neighboring containers. then quickly try using the most appropriate method. Check out this article that outlines some of the best natural methods to get rid of houseplant bugs.