Indoor Pest Management
Beth R. Bolles
Escambia County Extension
During the cooler months of the year, homeowners move many frost tender plants or house plants back into structures or homes for protection. During their stay inside, keep a close watch for arthropod pests on plants which can build up quickly in this artificial environment.
Photo Credits: Beth Bolles
The best prevention for indoor pest problems is to inspect plants thoroughly before bringing them indoors. Look over all the leaves, stems, and trunks for any signs of eggs, nymphs, or adult arthropods. You may want to spray your plants with an insecticidal soap to help manage any insects you are unable to see.
Some of the common indoor pests during the winter are spider mites, whiteflies, mealybugs, and fungus gnats.
Spider mites may be heaviest on plants that receive bright light and are in drier indoor air. Heavily infested plants will have fine webbing on leaves and stems. Use a hand lens to see the microscopic mites or shake stems over a white piece of paper to see the spider mites.
If you see small white insects hovering over foliage when it is disturbed, you have whiteflies. While the adults fly, the immatures are attached to the undersides of leaves as flat circles.
Mealybugs are often found on stems and in leaf axils. These insects have a white powdery covering and long filaments at the end of the body. Many mealybugs can be found grouped together on plants.
If your container’s soil is kept too moist, fungus gnats could be a problem. Infested plants may show wilt, yellowing leaves, or even drop foliage. The maggots live in the organic soil and can feed on small plant roots. Allowing soil to dry or changing out soil can help control fungus gnats.
Effective controls for spider mites, whiteflies, and mealybugs include many least toxic methods. Spraying the foliage with water can take care of light spider mite infestations. Insecticidal soaps work well against mite, whiteflies, and mealybugs. For more information on management techniques of indoor pests visit: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG004.