The adult fungus gnats are gray or dark-gray, fly-like insects about 1/8 inch long. They are attracted to light and when present in your house,
swarm over the windows because of the natural light. The immature form of the Fungus Gnat, which lives in the soil, are thin whitish maggots with
a jet black head, and attain a length of about 1/4 inch. The maggots are likely to be found in soils with quantities of decaying plant. The damage
caused by these pest’s are usually occur while they are in their maggot form as they will bury themselves in the soil and feed on the roots
of the plant. The gnats themselves are more of a pest then an issue to the plant.
Best way to keep your plant free of fungus gnat maggots is to avoid overwatering your plant. In the event that your plant is already infested with
this pest, use an insecticide drench and apply it to the potting to control the problem. For the adults use of a labeled and targeted insecticide should
assist in destroying them. If you want to avoid the use of chemicals to kill the larvae, by allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering
they should die out.
Aphids are commonly known as the greenfly or black fly, and they are the most common pest for indoor houseplants. They are small insects (usually
1 to 5mm) and generally infest flowers, shoot tips and soft leaves. They are not likely to kill your plant but these sap-sucking insects will cause
the flowers and leaves to look very distorted and/or curled.
To treat the Aphid infestation you should first try to wash off the colonies from your plant. To do this use a strong spray bottle filled with water,
however this treatment does not work with all species of Aphids. The next method to try is with a fine spray of soapy water on the colonies. This will
interfere with their ability to breathe. If the second method fails, you will need to succumb and purchase a systemic poison or a spray containing
Malathion. We suggest Malathion because it has a relatively low human toxicity.
While Mealybugs are not usually considered a common problem in ferns, since they can occur we feel it is best to educate on how to handle the
Mealybugs are white, waxy creatures that live in large colonies usually on the undersides of the leaves and/or around leaf joints. The bug is about
1/10th of an inch and has the look of cotton. Similar to other pests a sure sign that your plant is infested is if you observe that the leaves of your
plant seem dry or weak (dropping). If you notice those signs the first course of action would be to isolate the infested plant from all other plants
within your home. After that use a strong spray bottle with water in order to try to wash off the colonies from your plant, or wipe off the infestation
with cotton buds dipped in rubbing alcohol. Take note that this may not work to get rid of all the Mealybugs at one time, so keep the plant away from
others while you monitor it for more insects. Another option is to buy the Mealy Bug’s natural predator called the Mealybug destroyer (Cryptolaemus
montrouzieri) which is a species of lady bug. This is an option for heavily infested plants, but is probably not practical unless you have a large number
of infested plants. Once the Mealybugs have been killed and consumed the Mealybug destroyer will die off from a lack of a food source.
There are many species of scales that are commonly found in indoor house or greenhouse plants. Some species of the insect can have an armored shell like
covering that will protect its entire form while others will have none at all. Those with the waxy shell can have its protection removed by simply scraping
it away. It is easiest to tell the difference as the soft scales (no armored protection) produce honeydew while the armored scales will not. Scales feed on
your plant by sucking on the plant’s sap. This will promote poor growth which will eventually stunt the growth of your plant. It can also lead to your
plant being infested to sooty mold.
The most practical thing to do for your first attempt at cleaning up your plant from its infestation is to use soap and water to wash off the leaves and
stems. If your plant is heavily infested, you can try an insecticide spray schedule on your plant that involves 2 to 3 sprays a week every two weeks. It is
usually best to discard the plant however before the infestation can spread.
There are many sub species of Thrips that can infest common indoor house hold plants. The insect is barely visible to the naked eye. In its adult form the
pest is a brownish, black color with light markings on its body. The larvae can be a light yellow to orange color with black excrement on their backs. When a
plant that this pest inhabits is disturbed the adult forms it can be seen to fly or run. This insect will feed on the juices of the plants leaves and/flowers.
The damage that is left behind is random streaked silvered areas of the plant that are speckled with little black dots of excrement. The plants leaves and/or
flowers may be blotched or drop away from the plant.
Labeled insecticides that state they can handle thrips are the best option for removal. Try a daily spray of 4 times a day for 4 days on both the plant and
the soil to get rid of this pest.