House plant damagers .
. . here are actions to take Tiny creatures will gladly make your house plants their home unlessyou stop them.
To stop them with an effective control, take a goodclose look at your plants; one of these five intruders could be thecause of your plant troubles: Aphids are recognized by soft, round, pinhead-size bodies that maybe whitish, green, or black; they often huddle together on new shoots,buds, and leaves. Mealybugs look like tufts of cotton with fringed edges(there’s one in the photograph above); they feed on plant juicesand are often found along stems. Mites (actually spider relatives, not insects look like specks ofreddish dust on plant leaves; they stipple leaves with little yellowishspots by sucking plant juices. If you suspect that a plant has mites,shake the leaves over white paper and look for dust-like specks thatmove slowly. Scale insects appear as small lumps (usually tan) on stems andleaves. A waxy stationary shell protects the insect as it feeds onplant juices, exuding a sticky substance that darkens leaves. Thrips show up under a hand lens as fastmoving tannish specks.
Their small size (1/25 inch) makes them hard to see. Damage to leavesshows in a dull, silvery upper surface; numerous black dots of excrementon lower leaf surfaces will confirm their presence. When numerousenough, they distort foliage by rasping into unopened flowers andleaves, leaving strips of seersucker puckerings. Spraying infested plants will kill plant damagers, but can causelogistical problems when you try to spray in a practical and safe place.Systemic insecticides, added directly to the soil, provide analternative to sprays. Use only sprays labeled for house plant application. There aremany on the market in both aerosol and pump-type dispensers.
Theinsect-controlling ingredients are usually nicotine, pyrethrins, androtenone (alone or in combination). One pump spray contains aninsect-growth regulator that provides long-lasting control. Check thelabel to make sure the spray is both safe for your plant and will killthe creature you’er aiming for. When you spray plants, do the job outdoors, out of direct sunlightand away from wood or upholstered furniture.
If you have a plant toobig to move, you can fashion a fumigation tent from a plastic laundrybag; spray and keep the bag sealed for two weeks. Water plants wellseveral hours before you spray them to lessen the danger of thechemicals burning the leaves. Wash your hands after you finish the joband keep children and pets away from the sprayed plants. Systemic house plant insecticides are easier and safer to applythan sprays, and they usually remain effective longer (up to six weeks).Systemics are taken up by the plant’s roots and travel through theconductive system to all branch and leafparts. They poison theplant’s juices, killing creatures that feed on the plant. To lessen the chances of an invasion, keep plants clean–free ofdust–by wiping or showering them off every couple of weeks.
Inspectstems and leaves routinely and often for tiny creatures. Check newplants carefully before you introduce them to your collection. Photo: Fuzzy white lump at the base leaf is a mealybug, shown herefour times actual size.
Oval body is covered with waxy threads