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Mealybugs, scale and aphids: What are they and how can I naturally get rid of them?

Have you noticed something a bit off with your plants recently? Bugs are a common problem with houseplants and, if left alone, can become a real issue for plant owners.


In this article, we will show you the most common pests and how you can spot them. We'll then offer some useful natural remedies to get rid of them once and for all!


1) Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae families)

Mealybugs are commonplace amongst houseplants. They feed on the sap of plants, weakening them and leaving a sticky substance on your plants called honeydew.

How to spot them: White fluffy wax on the stem or leaves of your plant, honeydew, orange-pink eggs under the leaves, black appearance on stems and leaves. They can hide in difficult places so check even leaves that have yet to unfurl.

Most common plants affected: Cacti and succulents, orchids, hoyas

Natural remedy to get rid of them: These insects breed like rabbits so make sure you quarantine the affected plant from your other plants. Remove leaves that have a dead appearance or that have dropped as they may still have mealybugs on them. There are natural sprays you can purchase at your local supermarket that will get rid of mealybugs, however, these can be quite weak so use religiously. Another option is to apply rubbing alcohol directly onto the bugs using Q-tips. It takes around 10 days for the eggs to hatch into nymphs, and then another 8 weeks for the nymphs to mature into adults. Therefore, several generations of mealybugs need to be killed so apply the alcohol every week for around 2 months.

2) Common brown scale (Coccidae and Diaspididae families)

There are different kinds of scale that can occur on your plants. They attach themselves onto your plant and suck from their mouths under their armour (ew).

How to spot them: Bottom of leaves are shiny and sticky (honeydew), small wooden-looking nubs on your plant close to the stem and veins (around 4mm long).

Most common plants affected: Orchids, trees, ornamental plants

Natural remedy to get rid of them: Once again, quarantine your plant from the others and place a plastic bag around the base of the plant to protect the soil and collect the scales. Then start by scraping the scales off your plant (as many as possible!). You will then need to purchase a natural insecticidal soap (rosemary works best) and rub the soap directly onto the plant, with your fingernails or a toothbrush, start to work the scales away from the plant, allowing them to drop onto the plastic bag. Give your houseplant a good wash with a hose to remove the soap and repeat with the soap after 1 week.

3) Aphids (Aphidoidea superfamily, Aphididae family)

These are not commonly found on tropical houseplants and are more often found on plants such as food crops. They are born without wings so if you spot some of them flying that means their colony has got overcrowded and they are looking for a new plant to settle on!

How to spot them: Small green bugs but they can be other colours such as brown or red. Sticky residue on your plant.

Most common plants affected:

Natural remedy to get rid of them: (Can you see a theme here?) QUARANTINE! Take your plant outside and gently blast the plant with a hose (careful not to hurt the leaves!). Then wash the leaves with a mild solution of soapy water (1 tsp of organic mild liquid soap to 1 litre of tepid water). For the remaining bugs, crush them with your fingers or with a paper towel. Repeat the process until they have gone. Neem oil is a natural insecticide for aphids that is very effective: Simply add this to the soapy solution.

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