Common Houseplant Pests: How to Deal with Whitefly

Ever noticed what looks like tiny moths all over the leaves of your plants? If so, then you have experienced whitefly! 

Common Houseplant Pests: How to Deal with Whitefly

Why does My Plant have Pests?

I’ll be straight with you: insects are almost inevitable. Once you introduce nature into your space (that is what plants are after all!), life will run its course. However, there are plenty of ways to deal with each type of potential pest, all you have to do is put in a little time and effort. Also, not every insect will affect every variety of plant necessarily, some are more prone to specific pests compared to others, but I’ve outlined solutions for you to use if or when you come into contact with one of these little nuisances.

In this series, we will talk about some of the most common houseplant pests. It is not an extensive list, I’m sure there are many more pests that are out there, but these are the insects that you will most likely run into at some point in your plant journey. Isolate any plant in your care at the first sight of a potential infestation.

The main ways that houseplants enter our homes are: 

  • Through open doors and windows (many pests come in through the air and find new homes to live and feed off of i.e. our plants)
  • Infested soil (make sure to store your extra soil in airtight containers and check the soil of any new plant you are bringing home)
  • New plants (even if you have inspected a new plant, there is always a chance of bugs still residing somewhere in the soil or on the plant. Make sure you isolate any new plant from your other plants for a little while in order to minimize any potential spread)

Something to keep in mind, sometimes a plant is beyond repair if you catch the damage too late, but we’ve provided you with this article in the hopes that you can learn to see the signs before your plant is too far gone! Don’t be discouraged if you’ve lost a plant to pests before, that’s happened to us all, but this will arm you with what you need to know for the future.

What are Whiteflies?

Whiteflies damage our plants by, you guessed it, sucking the sap out of stems and leaves (it seems like that’s what all pests do). They are often found in large amounts together, that fly off of any plant they are on that gets disturbed. Often found on the tops of plants or ends of stems, these pests lay their eggs on your plant where the larvae, called nymphs, will begin to feed. The damage that follows could be stunted growth, yellowing leaves that die, and a sticky, honeydew residue on the leaves.

How to Get Rid of Whitefly?

Although bothersome, whiteflies are generally quite easy to get rid of, as long as you stay on top of eliminating them. 

  • Fly Paper: hanging up sticky fly paper around your plants is an easy way to catch the adult flies in your home.
  • Pruning: disposing of any “too-far-gone” bits of your plant.
  • Rinse: shower the leaves and stems of your plant with water beforehand.
  • Organic Pest Control: there are plenty of different recipes you can find online, but an insecticidal soap, mild dish soap, or neem oil mix applied to the plant (both leaves and stems) and soil should be effective after a few applications. 

As with any other pest, stay on top of your eradication of them, using the above steps, and you should be able to get rid of them in no time!

Now, I know that was a lot to go through, but a lot of pest control is very similar. The most important step is to make sure you don’t stop until you are sure the specific pest you are trying to get rid of is gone, otherwise, all your work will be in vain. We want to give our plants the best care that we can in our homes, so don’t give up on them!

About the author
Hilary West
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About the author - Hilary West
Coming from an engineering background, I never thought I’d be as involved with plants as I am now. My growing collection of houseplants led me to want to work in the plant field, helping others be successful in their plant care, but also realistic. Working with lots of experienced people and doing my own research has allowed me to increase my knowledge and I want to share that with others!