The Q&A Archives: Houseplant Insects

Question: How can I get rid of aphids and whitefly on my houseplants? I have pets so I don't want to use anything toxic. The aphids are on my ivy and the whitefly on my lemon balm and catnip.

Answer: Eliminating whitefly and aphid infestations is difficult but not impossible. You'll have to be persistent in your treatment to rid your plants and soil of eggs as well as adults. Instead of using chemicals, try trapping them. Make your own traps by finding bright yellow paper or cardboard, cutting 3"x5" rectangles, attaching a stake or clip, and smearing both sides with petroleum jelly or 'Tanglefoot' gel. Then suspend the traps in or over the infested plants. The insects will be attracted by the bright yellow color, fly toward it and be caught on the sticky surface. Replace the traps as necessary. Prior to placing the traps, gently wash your plants under a stream of tepid water to dislodge any adults or eggs present on the leaves and stems. Hope you get a handle on your houseplant invaders!

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