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Insect Infestation

No matter where you live or what you grow, expect insect pests. These are five common pests and hints on control.

Aphids - Watch for sooty mold on leaves and distorted growth. Also look for the white skins they shed. Pick off any infested areas and wash the plant with tepid water. Spraying with Safer's soap or vegetable oil in water is also effective. (Click to see picture of Aphids - hit the back button on your browser to return.)

Mealy Bugs - These cluster around the leaf stem and are to see. Remove the plant from its container. You'll find white wool on the roots. Wipe the bugs away with cotton swabs soaked in alcohol. Spray the plant with a water/alcohol mixture, wash the roots and repot. (Click to see picture of Mealy Bugs- hit the back button on your browser to return.)

Spider Mites - Almost invisible, except with a magnifying glass. Look for webs on the bottom of leaves. Leaves dry up and fall off. Increase the humidity by misting often or wash the mites away using a sprinkler. (Click to see picture of Spider Mites - hit the back button on your browser to return.)

White Flies - These flies weaken your plant by sucking sap. Look for sooty mold on leaves which turn yellow and fall. White flies are hard to get rid of. Try sticky tape, soap and citrus or vegetable oil sprays. Don't kill spiders, as spiders kill white flies and many other pests. (Click to see picture of White Flies - hit the back button on your browser to return.)

Leafminers - Leafminers are larvae of several different types of insects that eat trails through the leaves of plants. The only way to protect your plants from damage is to remove leaves as soon as you see the trails. Use fresh potting soil and keep your garden area clean of old plant debris to avoid infestation. (Click to see picture of Leafminers - hit the back button on your browser to return.)

Special thanks to the Clemson University Department of Entomology, Cooperative Extension Service for use of these photos.

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