Ahhh spring time. The time where everyone comes out to play - including the bugs! Some bugs are great, you know, like worms and spiders. But there are some bugs that will literally suck the life out of your plants.
In this blog, we are going to dumb down what certain types of infestations are, and how to treat them as quickly, safely and effectively as possible.
Before we get started, it is important to note that bugs can strike in any season, and in many ways. New unfurling leaves can open up bright yellow, your plant can stop growing, or you can wake up one morning and it has completely kicked the bucket with zero warning. ALWAYS regularly check underneath the leaves of your plants when you water them, even if you are positive you are pest free. After all, prevention is better than the cure, right?
Alright, lets goooooooo!
Mealy Bugs. Ugh, yuck. These white, fluffy little clouds of pure annoyance can spring up at any time, and man do they spread fast. These bad boys (that is not a term of endearment, they suck butts)
Where to spot them: They are commonly found living under the leaves of your plants, but they also congregate around the stem and petioles, too.
How to treat them: You can treat them individually if there's not too many, by applying rubbing alcohol to them with a cotton bud. This can be time consuming, but it will eradicate them very well. Alternatively, you can take a very infested plant outside (under the shade, this is very important) and spray them down with Multicrop's EcoPest Oil. This is a ready to use insect spray, and it very effectively kills scale, mites, mealy bugs, leafminers, whiteflies and aphids. Let the spray run off the plant, really soaking it. We suggest using it under the shade as oils on the leaves in the sun can be burnt, and then bugs are the least of your issues! This spray is under $10 at Bunnings, and worth every cent.
Fungus Gnats. Ewwww! These guys are super attracted to damp soil. Winter is their most common time to be around, as many people don't adjust their watering habits in the cooler weather and the soil doesn't get a chance to dry out. The adults live for about a week, in this time each female can lay 100-150 eggs at a time in your soil! No thank you. Fungus Gnats can also be found in soils that are purchased inside sealed bags. Open the bag and leave it in the sun to eradicate any possible infestations.
Where to spot them: Fungus Gnats lay eggs in the soil. As as they emerge, they'll be on the top of the soil and flying around annoying the shit out of you, and embarrassing you when people come over! But not only that, the larvae chew the roots and feed of the soil in your plants, causing issues with plant growth and development.
How to treat them: If the infestation is particularly bad in one plant but has not spread, it is recommended to re-pot the plant. Take it out of the pot, gently remove the soil from the roots, wash them if you can and then pot them into clean soil.
Cinnamon on the soil can help to a certain extent, same with citrus peels. Again, it is all dependant on the level of infestation.
As well as the EcoPest Oil mentioned above as well as Gnat Barrier (under $20 at Bunnings), Neem is another great product to use. Neem Oil is best used as a preventative tool, as apposed to a treatment.
We use both The Plant Runner Neem, and We The Wild Protect Spray. Not only do they both smell terrific, they also shine the leaves and help keep gnats at bay! We sell them both, so head over to the website if you want some amazing prevention.
Scale. Scale can be a little harder to see, but they literally hide under a hard shell and suck the sap out of your plants. Ever seen those sticky little droplets on your plant? Those are called "Honeydew" and it is your sap being sucked right out!
How to spot them: They vary in shapes and colour, but the general look is that they are brown rounded lumps that hang around on the stem and petioles of your plants, spreading to the tops and bottoms of the leaves.
I cannot recommend We The Wild and The Plant Runner enough for prevention though, which again is a much better way of doing it as well as a lovely scent and shiny, healthy leaves.
Spider Mites. I know I have said before that spiders are good, but the mites are not! The name comes from the web they create within the leaves of your plants. I mean, they're also a type of spider of course, just the bad kind.
How to spot them: In the early signs, you may not notice these little buggers are they're very small. Early on, you may notice small, lightly coloured dots along the leaves. Then the most vibrant leaves may fade in colour and appear to have a bronze look to them. As the mite population grows larger (very quickly mind you) they continue to feed on the plant, the leaves will turn yellow or red and fall off. You may also see the webs that are being created that are very fine, and can be confused with the web of a friendly spider.
How to treat them: In my experience, spider mites are the hardest and mot harmful insect to see. Many times, I have failed to notice they have existed until it has been very late in the game.
The best thing to do it remove the affected leaves as soon as you see them, attempting to save them can be pointless and worthless in the long run for your plant.
Flush the plant thoroughly with a mixture of alcohol and soap. Repeat this treatment several times a week. It also goes without saying that keeping effected plants away from healthy ones is very wise.
If you cannot make your own treatment, try Seasol EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil Insect Spray. It comes in 1L bottles, it's cheap, and it is very effective. This spray is made from paraffin oil to increase its UV effectiveness to more than 98% and it helps to reduce leaf burn on hot days!
So, these are the main four that afflict us on a daily basis. Yes, there are definitely others such a thrip and whitefly, but they aren't as common indoors and you will find the treatments above are very broad spectrum!
Thanks for reading! Email us at email@example.com or through the website if you have any questions or would like to chat.