Houseplants can be a decorative asset, however, they are prone to attacks of pests and insects. Aphids are small pests that are a common worry for those fond of gardening. They measure 1/8th of an inch in length and are oval in shape. They are found in colonies on the new, tender parts of plants. Also known as plant lice, these pests have sucking mouth parts, with which they ingest fluids from the plants. Getting rid of aphids is not a very difficult task. Here are some information on how to get rid of them.
Damage Caused by Aphids on Indoor Plants
Aphids mostly cluster in the newly grown parts of a plant. Although the green ones are the most common ones that are seen on indoor plants, there are the red, yellow, gray, and black varieties as well. They may be found on the underside of leaves, flower buds, and on the young tips of a plant. If proper pest control methods are not taken, these small creatures will eat right through the tender parts of your plants. Other than the obvious damage to the plant, they cause another problem, that is ants. Aphids produce a sticky substance called 'honeydew', that is nothing but digested plant juice. Ants are attracted by this honeydew. Another problem is the sooty mold for which the honeydew provides a perfect condition. Although it does not cause any immediate problem to the plant, a dense layer of soot on the plant can interfere with the process of photosynthesis with which plants manufacture their food.
Getting Rid of Aphids on Indoor Plants
Spray the infected plant parts with water. This should be effective in getting rid of aphids gathered on houseplants. In case it is a delicate plant, avoid subjecting it to a strong jet of water. Instead, immerse the infected parts in water.
Insecticidal soaps are available in the market, that are effective in killing aphids. Use the soap as per the instructions on the packet and spray it on the plants. Wait for 30 minutes and wash the parts on which the soap solution has been sprayed. Alternatively, liquid dish washing soap or laundry soap can also be used. One needs to mix 3-4 tablespoons of this soap per gallon of water and spray it on the plant. However, it is best to wash the plant after a soap solution has been sprayed on it, as this prevents damage to the leaves.
Although a strong spray of water may work fine, for more stubborn infections one might have to resort to pesticides. However, the bad news is that many varieties of aphids have become resistant to pesticides.
There are also biological means to control aphids. Green lacewings are general predators that feed on a wide range of insects such as mealybugs and spider mites. They have also been found to be particularly effective in getting rid of plant lice on houseplants.
Spraying the plant with alcohol or a solution of water and neem oil, has also been found effective to get rid of aphids.
Although there are a number of ways of getting rid of aphids destroying houseplants, one has to be very careful as these pests may resurface on the plant one week after you treated them. Repeated treatment may be required every week till you are sure that the pests have been cleared off.