Bugs, Bugs and more Bugs!

Bugs can be fun.  Yes I know most are technically insects, but some are arachnids and other classes so I’m going to lump them all under “bugs”.  Unless they’re killing your houseplants.  In my experience there are 4 major pests, 3 of which I’m currently trying to get under control in my apartment.  Today you’ll get a chronological list of bugs as I’ve eradicated them.  I’ve actually only got two of them fully under control (the ones I’m talking about today), the other two are probably going to be an ongoing battle for the rest of my life (and get their own special entry tomorrow).

First and foremost there are aphids.  I don’t have any pictures of aphids on any of my houseplants because they’re pretty easy to get rid of.  They look like little green (or yellow, black, red, orange, peach…the list goes on but green seems to be the most prevalent) dots.  They’re most frequently found on succulent new growth but they can be found anywhere on the stem.  Insecticidal soaps work great on these.  So does washing them off under running water.  Just remember to follow the instructions on what ever spray you get.  More is not better, especially with chemicals.  The instructions are there for a reason.

Next in line for pests are spider mites.  Anyone who has ever owned an English ivy probably has experience with these.  I don’t have any living ones to take a picture of for you but I do have this lovely snapshot of some webbing on my Jatropha integerrima”Compacta’ :

You can see the webbing that still remains on the leaves.  It never goes away on its own, you have to clean it off yourself.  Spider mites look like small dusty specks.  They’re usually pretty hard to notice until they get really bad.  At that point you’ll start to see webs covering the surface of everything.  The easiest way to look for spider mites is to spray the plant with a misting bottle.  The webs will become highly visible and you’ll know you have a problem.  They’re still controlable at this point, it will just take a lot more work.  I recommend starting off by removing all the webs.  This will make it easier for what ever spray you pick to get to the bugs and kill them.  I’m not going to recommend any particular insecticides because everyone has their own needs (such as other bugs they’re trying to get rid of  or desire for organics) but I will say that imidicloprid, a systemic insecticide, does not work for spider mites, nor is it labeled for spider mites.  There are plenty that ARE labeled for it so you shouldn’t have trouble finding something that works for you.  Once you start to get them under control they go away pretty fast.  My experience has been that they’ll be gone within a month or so of following the label on the insecticide.  ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LABEL!  Dow, Bayer, and everyone else didn’t spend all the time and money developing guidelines for their product use just to have people ignore it.

The 3rd and 4th insects are both much more difficult to get fully under control.  Those will be the topic of tomorrow’s post!

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