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Whether you’re a longtime plant lover or you picked up a love of house plants while spending more time at home in 2020, as much fun as plants can be, they can also introduce unwanted pests into your home. So, for all the Long Island plant moms and dads, here are a few pests to be on the lookout for in your house plants and what to do if they do end up inside your house. 

Where Do Houseplant Bugs Come From? houseplant pests

There are a few key ways houseplant pests get introduced to your home: 

1. You brought home a new plant! 

We get it—buying new plants is exciting! Even with a watchful eye, though, you may accidentally bring home a plant that’s got an existing pest infestation. Identifying pests in plants isn’t always cut-and-dry; sometimes insects can be in their early developmental stages, making them more difficult to notice. 

2. Your potting soil is contaminated. 

The way you store your potting soil is key to preventing a pest infestation inside it! Without proper storage in an airtight container, your soil can get contaminated by houseplant pests. 

3. You’re moving plants in and out of your house. 

In the spring, it’s normal to want to give your plants some time outside, where there are pests aplenty. In doing so, it’s important to always do a thorough check of your plants for new pests before bringing them back inside. 

Common Houseplant Pests 

Spider Mites 

Spider mites are tiny, sucking pests that are well-known for wreaking havoc on greenhouses, as well as indoor and outdoor plants. While spider mites aren’t true insects, they belong to the arachnid family, meaning they’re relatives of spiders, ticks, and scorpions. Adult spider mites are either a shade of reddish-brown or pale in color, with an oval shape and tiny size (only about 1/50 of an inch long). Immature spider mites are even smaller! 

On plants, spider mites live in colonies, usually on the underside of leaves. To feed, they’ll pierce the tissue of the leaves and consume the fluids of the plant, leaving behind marks from feeding that look like light dots on the plant’s leaves. Eventually, the leaves will turn yellow, and may even dry up and fall off the plant completely. 


Aphids are another common pest on indoor and outdoor plants. They’re around 1/8 inch long with soft, pear-shaped bodies. Depending on their species (there are more than 4,000 aphid species around the world!), their color varies from green, yellow, brown, red, or black. 

Aphids suck sap and are often found feeding in clusters. Heavy aphid infestations will result in plants’ leaves curling, wilting, turning yellow, or no longer growing. As they feed on plants, aphids secrete a sticky fluid called honeydew, which not only leads to mold growth on leaves but can also attract ants! 


Mealybugs, too, are plant-sucking pests, and are common in greenhouses, gardens, and Long Island homes. Adult mealybugs are about 1/10 to 1/4 inch long, soft-bodied, oval-shaped, and segmented. Typically, adult mealybugs are covered with a white or gray wax, while nymphs, called crawlers, are light yellow and don’t have a waxy coating. 

On plants, mealybugs appear as white, cotton-like masses on leaves, stems, and fruit, where they’ll feed by using their long, sucking mouthparts into the plants to draw sap right out of the tissue. Like aphids, mealybugs leave behind honeydew, that sticky fluid that can make plants mold and ants come marching in. 


Springtails are tiny pests; adults grow only to between 1/32 and 1/8 an inch in length! They’re wingless, soft-bodies, and come in a variety of colors like purple, gray, blue, green, yellow, and orange, but because they’re so tiny, they usually just look like grayish-colored flecks.  

Springtails require moist environments because they can rapidly lose moisture through their bodies, so outside, it’s common to see them in wet soil, decaying straw, or rotting leaves. When outdoor soils dry out, springtails will seek out indoor sources of moisture, including showers, tubs, sinks, windowsills, damp basements, crawl spaces, and you guessed it—houseplants! Usually, springtails are just a nuisance pest and don’t do a ton of damage to houseplants, but they will chew roots in a plant’s soil and inhibit the plant’s hardiness. 


With over 1,000 species of scale insects in North America alone, it’s no surprise that this pest is very common on trees, shrubs, and indoor plants. Scale insects usually resemble shell-like bumps rather than insects, and there are a couple of types of scalearmored and soft. Armored scale is around 1/8 inch long, and doesn’t move about the plant, nor produce honeydew. Soft scale, on the other hand, can move short distances about the plant and produces honeydew. 

Scale insects can build upon a plant before the plant shows any signs of damage, and with large populations, the plant’s growth can be stunted, leaves can yellow, and ultimately, the plant can die. 

How to Prevent Houseplant Pests 

  • Prune your plants’ leaves regularly. 
  • Take caution when moving plants between the indoors and outdoors.  
  • Store your soil in airtight containers.  
  • Do a thorough inspection of all new plants before bringing them inside your home. 
  • Don’t let excess moisture accumulate in your plant pots.  

Dealing with Indoor Pests? Call Suburban Exterminating 

If you’re dealing with indoor pests and aren’t sure where to start, contact Suburban at (631/516) 864-6900. Our trained team of entomologists and pest control experts can help you identify what sort of pests you’re dealing with, and find your perfect year-round protection plan. Call or text our team today! 

5 Common Houseplant Pests (And What to Do When They Get in Your Long Island Home) Serving Long Island and surrounding areas

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