Thrips are very destructive at all life stages. They can cause a wide range of damage and can be tricky to treat due to their life cycle.
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Spider mites are very small mites that have the ability to spin fine webbing. The most common spider mite on houseplants is the two-spotted spider mite.
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Mealybugs are part of the soft-bodied scale family. The adult females are white, round, and hairy while the adult males are can fly and closely resemble fungus gnats.
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Scale are hard-bodied insects. Once reaching maturity, the adult female scale will attach itself to the plant and become immobile.
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Flat mites are microscopic mites that appear yellow and red. They are most notably found on hoyas, but can be found on other houseplants as well.
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Fungus gnats are small, black flying insects. They generally do not cause harm to your houseplants unless they are in very large numbers.
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Aphids are a common garden pest, but can be found on houseplants. There are many species that differ in color and appearance.
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Broad mites are semi-translucent, microscopic mites. They are nearly impossible to see without a microscope.
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Root mealybugs

Root mealybugs are pests that can be found in the root system of a plant. They are fairly small and are most often identified by the white fluffy debris they leave behind.
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About Thrips

Thrips, an insect in the family Thysanoptera, are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings that feed on the plant by piercing the outer layer of the leaf and sucking the contents out. They can be particularly destructive and move between plants with ease, as, though they cannot “fly”, they can leap about two feet.
Understanding the thrips life cycle is essential to treating them successfully. Thrips adults are the long slender black insects we are accustomed to seeing in images. The adults will lay eggs within the leaf tissue of your plant. As the larvae hatches out of this egg, it will eat its way out of the leaf (causing distinctive damage marks). This larvae will then feed on the plant for about five days, depending on environmental conditions. These larvae are typically orange/clear in color and are very, very small. They resemble dust specks. However, if you look long enough, or poke them with a chopstick, they will wriggle away, like little worms. They are often hidden in the crevices of the plant, or along the leaf veins.
Once the larvae matures through two more life stages, depending on the specific thrips species, it will typically drop down into your growing medium to pupate. The pupal stage takes about three days depending on environmental conditions, and then the thrips adult will emerge from the growing medium as the long, black, and thin adult where the cycle starts again. The adults move quickly and jump when approached, almost like fleas. 
When inspecting your plant for thrips, be sure to pull back where the leaves meet the stem or any leaf-like material that is attached to the base of the plant. They like to hide in there.

Thrips Damage

Thrips are excellent at hiding. By the time you are seeing the adults, you have a lot of thrips. It is essential to monitor your plants for thrips damage—and treat at the first sign of damage.
Classic thrips damage presents like coppery streaks or circles on the backs of the leaves, indentations on the leaves, yellowing and browning around the leaf edges, and what has been described as a sort of fish scale pattern of damage. You may also see new growth coming in distorted or with lines/holes. Another early sign of thrips may be small dark brown spots on the leaves. This is thrip poop!


Because the life cycle of thrips happen on/in all parts of the plant, it is imperative that you treat your plants with a leaf predator and a soil predator. We recommend a three predator approach: lacewing larvae/minute pirate bugs, cucumeris mites, and stratiolaelaps mites. A combination of these predators should be released every two weeks for at least 3-4 treatments.

Spider Mites

About Spider Mites

Spider mites are a type of arachnid that belong to the family Tetranychidae. There are over 1,200 species in this family but the most common is Tetranychus urticae, more commonly known as the two spotted spider mite. True to their name, they have two dark spots on either side of their abdomen when viewed under a microscope. There are two primary species of spider mites that can be found on houseplants: the two-spotted spider mite and the European red spider mite.
Spider mites create a webbing on plants where they lay their eggs and are protected from predators and move around. The webbing helps lift them off the surface of the plant where the humidity is higher. If you have caught a spider mite issue early, however, it is likely you won’t see any webbing at all. You may see what looks like a fine dust on the backs of the leaves (these are the spider mite eggs and shed skin) or a dulling/speckling of the plants foliage.
Of all the common plant pests, spider mites may be the most resistant to pesticides and many commercially available sprays often cause their population to increase. This is especially true of imidacloprid, the active ingredient in systemic granules. Use of systemic granules has been scientifically proven to increase spider mite populations, as have the use of pyrethrin based sprays.
Your best first line of defense is to literally remove the spider mites with just water and a wet washcloth or paper towel. Make sure to get all the eggs and webbing, and do so as often as possible. Every two days is best, as the eggs hatch every three days. If showering the plant off, do so on an angle so the pests go down the drain and don’t just fall off into the pot, where they can climb back up onto your plants. Then you can follow up with the recommended predators (check out our treatment plans page for more information).

Spider Mites Damage

Spider mite damage presents primarily as a speckling on the leaves. The leaves may not initially appear “damaged” as with thrips, but the color will start to appear muted and small white specks will appear across the surface as well as at points where the stems meet the leaves. Eventually, if not treated, you will see yellowing and leaf death, and the entire plant will die.


To treat spider mites successfully, use a predator mite such as persimilis, fallacis, or californicus. The mite you select depends on environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, as well as the type of spider mite you are treating. Release the predator mites every two weeks for 2-3 treatments in combination with removing visible webbing and spider mites as you see them.


About mealybugs

Mealybugs are a slow moving, white, oval shaped insect easily visible to the naked eye that create a cottony, wax debris. They belong to the family of scale insects, all of which suck plant sap and secrete a substance called honeydew. The presence of this honeydew will cause the surface of your leaves to be sticky (as if juice has been spilled on them) and is one of the earliest signs of a mealybug infestation. This honeydew can cause secondary bacterial and fungal infections, and their feeding can also spread plant viruses.
The females are small, white, and hairy, while the adult males have wings (and you can catch them on sticky traps to help knock down a population). They tend to congregate in hidden crevices and just below the soil at the root line, so make sure to check and clean these areas thoroughly if you suspect an infestation. Different species of mealybugs tend to prefer different types of plants, but they are all similar in appearance.

mealybug Damage

Unlike other pests such as thrips or spider mites, mealybugs don’t tend to have a typical damage pattern. Instead you’ll likely see overall plant decline: yellowing leaves, stunted and distorted new growth, or no new growth at all.


Mealybugs can feel like a pain to get rid of, but their treatment is relatively straightforward. Remove any mealybugs that you see by wiping the leaves with a wet cloth or using a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. Follow up with lacewing larvae or cryptolaemus larvae, depending on the severity of the infestation, every two weeks until you no longer see mealybugs.


About Scale

There are many different types of species of scale insects, but generally when we refer to “Scale” in the houseplant community we are referring to a hard bodied, immobile insect that sucks plant sap (either armored scales or soft scales). In their juvenile stage, the scale insects are nearly microscopic and mobile, and they travel the plant looking for a spot to settle. Once they find it, they build a hard-covered waxy coating around themselves (which protects them from predators) and affix themselves to feed. The eggs are laid underneath this dome and, once they mature, they stream out to roam and feed on the plant and start the cycle over again. Similar to mealybugs, the adult males of the scale insects are winged.
This hard covering is a very effective protection against both synthetic pesticide and natural enemies, and all of the hard-bodied adults you can find should be removed manually. They are easy to remove and should pop off like candle wax. 

Scale Damage

Unlike other pests such as thrips or spider mites, scale doesn’t tend to have a typical damage pattern. Instead you’ll likely see overall plant decline; yellowing leaves, stunted and distorted new growth, or no new growth at all.


Currently, there are no known beneficial insects approved for indoor use that can reliably chew through the hard shell of an adult scale, so you will need to manually remove any visible scale. Supplement with lacewing larvae, which will eat the baby scale crawlers before they have the chance to create a hard shell. 

Fungus Gnats

About Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are often mistaken for fruit flies, as their adult form looks very similar to a fruit fly. Small and winged, you’ll notice them when you shake or move your plant, as they will fly up from the soil. These adults are not harmful to your plant (but they are annoying). Their larvae, however, live in the first two inches of soil where it feeds mainly on dead or decaying organic matter, although some species can feed on root hairs and living tender roots.
In small numbers, the larvae also shouldn’t damage your plant, but as their numbers increase they can cause root damage and plant decline. They can also be more damaging to cuttings and seedlings than to established plants. They prefer moist soil, so their presence can also be an indicator that your plants may be staying too moist and you should check the roots for any root rot they may be feeding on.

Fungus Gnats Damage

Fungus gnats don’t usually cause visual damage, and indications of their presence will be the adults flying around the plant when you move or shake it.


Fungus gnats are very simple to treat with one release of nematodes Sf, which will eat the fungus gnat larvae in the soil. Add yellow stick traps for 1-2 weeks to catch the flying adult fungus gnat.

Broad Mites

About Broad Mites

Broad mites are microscopic and nearly impossible to see with the naked eye – they are less than half the side of a spider mite and generally identified by their damage. They are common on ornamental crops and cannabis, and they are starting to appear frequently on hoyas and other houseplants.


Broad mite damage typically starts with deformed and stunted new growth since they love new growth and will feed heavily on it as it’s emerging. On older growth, you will see brown leaf edges or dark brown striping on the leaf surface.


Difficult, if not impossible, to treat with miticides or pesticides, they are luckily very easy to treat with beneficial insects and require just one predator: the cucumeris mite. Applications of bulk cucumeris mites every two weeks is recommended for active issues. For prevention, use the cucumeris in sachets regularly as well as stratiolaelaps for the soil if you are growing in warm environments year round.

Flat Mites

About Flat Mites

The “flat mites” or “false spider mites” are a group of nearly 300 species of pest mite in the family Tenuipalpidae. While they are related to spider mites, they do not produce webbing and their bodies are comparatively “flat”, hence the name. The most common species of Tenuipalpidae on our cultivated plants are Brevipalpus mites.

Historically these mites were mainly an issue in agriculture in tropical areas, where they fed on cultivated banana, rubber and coffee plants as well as palms. However, in the last few years we have begun to see more and more cases of these mites on houseplants – primarily on hoyas which have the thick waxy leaves they love – as the plant market exploded and imports increased. 

flat MITE Damage

These mites are literally microscopic (you cannot see them without a microscope) and they tend to live and feed on the undersides of the leaves. The first thing you’ll notice will be the damage, which presents as a scabbing or browning on the leaf underside. Leaves may also appear deflated, as if the plant is underwatered, and will start falling off the stems. If you have a microscope you’ll see tiny red mites and their bright red eggs pressed flat against the leaf surface.


As with most mites, pesticide sprays and systemics are not recommended because the mites are largely resistant to them, and many pesticide chemicals actually cause their populations to increase. 

As with any pest, rinsing the mites off with just water is the first key step, paying special attention to the backs of the leaves. You may need a damp towel to remove all the sticky eggs.

Recommended predators for flat mites are californicus mites for the foliage, plus or minus stratiolaelaps for the soil, depending on your budget. If you’re worried about preventing flat mites, californicus in the sachets will do just fine! For active flat mites, due to their long life cycle, it’s recommended to do bulk californicus plus the sachets for your first treatment, reapplying fresh sachets after four weeks if you’re still seeing eggs or adults at that point.


About Aphids

There are more than 4,000 species of aphids!  Some common ones you may see are the Oleander Aphid, Wooly Aphid, Green Peach Aphid, Melon Aphid and Black Bean Aphid.  

Though they differ in appearance, each species is capable of destroying an otherwise  healthy plant. Aphids feed on sap produced by the plant. After tapping into this sugary food supply a substance called “honey dew” may be noticed on the affected plant as a shiny, sometimes sticky residue.

Aphids reproduce quickly and efficiently—the female aphid does not need a male to fertilize her eggs 

Complicating some treatments, especially outdoors, are certain species of ants known to guard and care for aphids, specifically so they can harvest the honeydew that the aphids produce.  They will protect them from the weather, move them around to various locations on the plant, and attack any predators that threaten the aphids.

Aphid Damage

You will likely see aphids on the plant either before or when you first notice damage on the leaf. Damage can present as leaf curling, leaf discoloration/yellowing, and overall plant decline. 


Endearingly called the Aphid Lion because of how effective of an aphid predator it is, Lacewing Larvae are going to be your best predator option.  Even if you initially see the aphid population disappear completely after one release, it is recommended to continue to apply lacewing larvae every two weeks for at least three treatments, as aphids are very effective at reproducing and can rebound quickly. 

If your plants are outside and you’re having trouble getting rid of aphids, you can also add in the predatory wasp – aphidius colemani.  However these cannot be used alone and must be used in combination with lacewing larvae to get rid of active aphid issues.

If you find that there are ants that are complicating your beneficial treatment, you can add in the Nematodes Sc to help take down the ant population.

Root Mealybugs

About Root Mealybugs

Root mealybugs live within the root system of plants, where they pierce the roots and suck the sap out, effectively killing the plant over time.  They look very similar to the mealybugs we find in the foliage – they are round and fluffy and move slowly.  They can be difficult to detect until populations are quite large because it’s not very often that we look at our plant’s roots. 

The insects themselves are fairly small and are most often identified by the white fluffy debris they leave behind.  This debris will cling to the surface of the plant’s roots.  While root mealybugs can feed on any plant, they tend to prefer hoyas, begonias and palms.   

This pest moves easily between plants – the adults lay eggs which hatch into “crawlers”, and these little ones will crawl out of the plants pot through the drainage hole and into nearby pots.   This most commonly happens during watering when the crawlers can be physically washed out of the pot.

Root Mealybug Damage

The only indication of root mealybugs, other than visually see them on the roots of your plants, is overall plant decline.

Root Mealybug TREATMENT

For root mealybugs, you’ll want to use a combination of rove beetles and stratiolaelaps to get rid of them.  If you can, prior to beginning the beneficial treatment plan, remove the plant from its substrate, rinse the roots with warm water, throw out the substrate and replace with new substrate.

Then it is recommended to do two releases, two weeks apart of the combination rove beetles and stratiolaelaps, then continue to release stratiolaelaps every two weeks until you feel comfortable the root mealybugs are gone.

You should treat all plants preventatively in the immediate vicinity as well with the stratiolaelaps soil mite.  This mite can be released on soil-less mediums as well such as pon, leca, moss etc.