Category Archives: Aphids

How to spot houseplant pests

Pests frequently enter a home through a seemingly innocent decorative staple: houseplants. Various insects and less noticeable mites can infest plants before they are even brought back from the store. Spotting the pests is the first step to exterminating them.  

An infestation can damage the appearance and health of the plant, and will occasionally kill them. Regardless of side effects, the pests pose a bothersome problem. 

Whiteflies
Whiteflies look slightly like gnats covered in a waxy white substance. Adults will have wings, and are typically very small. They’re not difficult to spot on darker leaves, as their light coloring contrasts with the plant. These pests are most damaging at their younger stage, as that is when they consume the plant. Whiteflies inhabit the undersides of leaves, so regularly check your plants for the small white insects. 

Mealybugs
Mealybugs are easily visible at about three-sixteenths of an inch long. They can resemble mildew, but upon closer inspection will be moving. Like whiteflies, they are lighter in color and stick to the undersides of leaves. They also populate near the stem and at the base of the plant, so be aware of anything that looks like mildew on an indoor plant.

Thrips
Thrips are tiny and darker than mealybugs and whiteflies, which makes them harder to spot. They hop rather than fly, so identifying thrips can be done after examining a plant for more than a few seconds under a magnifying glass. The mites eat flowers in addition to leaves and stems, so unusual streakiness on flower petals could indicate a thrip infestation. 

Aphids
Aphids are usually found on household plants, but infestations can be found in dense wooded areas outdoors as well. Indoor aphids range in color from green, black, brown, gray, yellow, red or purple. A study done by the University of Minnesota suggests looking for clusters of aphids beneath flower buds and on petals. 

A fact sheet from Colorodo State University recommends keeping plants in a separate area of the house, away from already-established plants for a few weeks before moving them to a permanent location. Scale insects (whiteflies and mealybugs) are present on most houseplants that have been recently purchased. Most mites can be removed easily by running the plant under water on moderate pressure, while whiteflies and other airborne insects can sometimes be tamed with sticky traps.

Crickets causing problems in Southwest

While seemingly harmless, crickets are causing plenty of problems for residents in the Southwest, especially homeowners in Texas who are fed up with the situation. Hordes of the pests have taken over towns, while homes and businesses are swarmed with the hopping insects. Some areas have been experiencing problems with the huge numbers of crickets since this spring, and the warm winter followed by particularly hot weather this summer and fall has only made the problem worse. The crickets have been breeding more than usual, and it's starting to bug people who have homes and offices that are covered in the pests.

Bugs invading towns
The pests are a huge nuisance for homeowners and businesses alike. They tend to gather outside homes and storefronts, and when doors open, the bugs  find a way inside. Once they're indoors, they can cause residents to panic, even though they don't pose a health threat. When many find their way inside, some people are swarmed with so many that they're forced to sweep them back outside with brooms. Some structures are so infested with the pests, people are using leaf blowers to get them off of doors, windows and siding.

It's not just the sheer amount of crickets that's getting to residents – it's also what happens when they die. Although most are pleased when the insect population begins to diminish, this year it's just another annoyance. Particularly rainy weather has made dealing with the dead crickets as bad as dealing with the ones that are alive.

During dry weather, the dead bugs simply blow away and don't cause any trouble. But because of the increased amount of rain, many Texans are finding that the wet, decaying carcasses produce an unpleasant smell that's tough to deal with. Some residents aren't sure which is worse – live crickets covering their homes and trying to get indoors, or dead crickets laying around outside causing a discernable stench.

Keeping crickets away
Live crickets can cause plenty of irritation, especially if they're covering a home and penetrating opened doors and windows. However, homeowners don't have deal with crickets, there are several ways people can keep them off their properties. The Dallas Morning News reported crickets are attracted to bright lights at night, so simply turning them off can keep crickets away from a home. If the lights have to be left on, using yellow bug lights or sodium vapor lamps instead of regular bulbs may also discourage the pests from dropping by and covering a home.

Residents who have found unusually large numbers of crickets indoors may want to consider calling pest control experts to assess the situation. Even though the bugs aren't dangerous, they can be a nuisance, frightening children or even distracting family pets. A professional exterminator can determine what can be done to get rid of the crickets inside a home, and how to prevent problems in the future.

Keep silverfish out of your home

Silverfish are common pests that may cause problems for homeowners. Even though they do not pose a medical danger to residents, their presence can be a nuisance. The risk of contaminated food and damaged goods is enough to make most homeowners dread discovering a silverfish in their homes.

Identifying the pest
Many residents find it tricky to uncover a silverfish problem, as the pests are nocturnal and can move extraordinarily quickly. If you're on the hunt for the insects, some good places to start your search are in the kitchen, bathroom, basement or laundry room. These bugs can make their homes in most environments, but they prefer areas that are warm and humid.

The pests have silvery brown bodies, and can grow to be nearly an inch long. They have two long antennae, and three projections from the back of their bodies. These characteristics make them easy to identify when they are spotted.

Because the females lay so many eggs, silverfish populations tend to grow rapidly. Young silverfish develop even more quickly when living in a humid environment.

Silverfish damage
Even though silverfish don't usually cause extensive structural damage, their presence can be a pain to deal with. Those who have found silverfish in their kitchens should note that these pests can easily contaminate food. All food should be stored in airtight containers and put away quickly to prevent silverfish access.

Silverfish don't just eat human food – they'll chew on many things they shouldn't. Books and wallpaper are a snack these pests can't resist, and a severe infestation may damage carefully papered walls or a large book collection. Even your closets may be at risk, because silverfish will eat silk and linen.

Prevention methods
It can be hard to prevent silverfish from getting inside, and homeowners often don't notice the problem until it has become overwhelming. Make sure entry points are sealed up, to keep pests from entering. Controlling the humidity in laundry rooms, bathrooms, basements and kitchens can help keep silverfish away as well, as they are often attracted to damp environments.

It's not always easy to identify a severe silverfish infestation until its too late. If you've discovered multiple insects in your home, it may be time to contact a pest control professional who can assess the situation and recommend the best form of treatment.