Just now I was checking my cuttings and I noticed a couple of my guaranitica pots had extremely small white specks on them that were moving). They were/are quite numerous. Anyone know what insects these could be and how much of a problem they may be?
They could be mealy bugs and if that's the case take care of it immediately! Those suckers breed fast! Normally you see white "fuzz" on your plants before they hatch and they are specklike tiny when they do. The bugs go for the underside of the leaves and where there is new growth on the plant. If you don't take care of them they'll overrun your plants fast! I've been having a problem with them in the last month attacking my Bonsai and Jade plants! WAH!!!
If you have NEEM, hit them up with that. Otherwise, there is an insectisidal spray by Bonide which is also good.
In the past I have always had a problem with white fly on Salvias which also congregates on the underside of leaves and around new growth. This year I didn't bring abny Black and Blue inside and no white fly
USDA hardiness zone 6a
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
Dan, to be more specific, are the little insects on the outside of the pots...on the soil surface...or somewhere on the plants? And are they snow white & almost fuzzy looking, or smooth and nearly flesh-colored?
They were crawling on the inside of the pots and on the soil, at least. I didn't check the plants. The insects are light-colored(against a red pot) and when I say "small" I mean almost microscopic. If they were any smaller I would not be able to see them.
I don't know why I didn't do this earlier, but I just checked the underside of my plant leaves and I found what I think are white flies. There weren't a ton of them, but a few were scattered on several plants. I was able to squish most of them. A few flew off. The insects I saw crawling on my pots are MUCH smaller than the white flies.
Dan, are you seeing any webs on or around the plant area? Being so small it sounds more like spider mites than mealy bugs. I've been fighting mealy bugs for a couple of months now and they are much different than most other bugs you see on plants.
What you are seeing on the soil may be recently hatched white fly. In a pinch if you have any citrus around the house you can boil the skins and strain the liquid and spray that on the plants, soil surface and under side of the leaves that will kill quite a few if you don't have anything stronger. It won't hurt the p0lants
USDA hardiness zone 6a
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
kent (no login)
tiny bugs on plants, in soil, etc.
September 25 2012, 10:59 AM
The best solution, no matter what kind of bug it is, is diatamaceous earth. Totally "green", microscopic powder (consistency of talcum). Just dust it on and wait. Not an instant cure, but reapplication from time to time will maintain total control.
Diatomaceous earth (the fossilized skeletons of marine algae, basically silica spikes in micro miniature) work well for any insect that is likely to hit the soil surface, but for the most part won't touch whiteflies much, since they spend most of their life cycle on the leaves. I don't think it will do too much with mealy bugs for the same reason, but they do tend to live closer to the soil so that may affect them more. The diatomaceous earth is inert so doesn't affect plants but is a mechanical "poison" in that it pretty much slices and dices the insects' skin, and since the individual spicules often are shaped like jacks, they can get lodged in the skin and between the joints. Apparently it punctures the skin of the exoskeleton enough to both irritate and in essence dry out the insect. If the insects ingest it, the damage is also internal. The most it will do to your soil though is slightly raise ph to a more basic/alkaline level, which is usually not a bad thing.
Hmm, I suppose you could aspirate the diatomaceous earth into a dry spray for it to work, but in that case make sure you wear some kind of mask. Breathing in silica spicules probably wouldn't kill you, but I don't think your lungs would be too happy with it either. Generally speaking though, diatomaceous earth works best dry on contact, and is used as a soil amendment not as any kind of spray, dry or otherwise. Heh, I can see making some kind of tent, and then blowing the diatomaceous earth into a cloud to quickly cover all the leaf surfaces of the plant in trouble. You would need to wash all that dust off after a bit, but it would probably work great. Just don't open the tent till the dust settles, lol.
There are lots of biological controls using some kind of smothering oil, and often a soap to affect better penetration into the insects' soft body tissue. Citrus and pepper oils work great because the acids in them literally burn the pests as well. An old recipe I have used uses liquid detergent or a similar soap (but not borax, which can also be toxic to plants), a little tobasco sauce, and water. Strain out any solids and put it in a spray bottle and spray the leaves. I'd give a recipe but its one of those things that different people recommend different amounts. The best thing is to test different strengths to see which works best to get rid of your pests, without burning the leaves. Citrus oil may be more gentle, I don't know, I haven't tried that one myself.
If you want to make sure you get the bugs (as with mealy bugs, which can be really difficult to get rid of) you can use a q-tip dipped in the oil to directly apply it to the bugs you can see, too. This also works for scale on things like jade plants. Whenever you spray though, make sure you hit the undersides of the leaves more than the tops. Most of these bugs lay their eggs and live on the undersides, not the tops of the leaves. Spraying top down usually does little good. I know that seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don't even think of it, lol.
One caution with neem- it works great, but it IS a complex poison. It degrades fairly quickly, but treat it as you would any pesticide: wear gloves and keep it off of skin, pets and other animals. (And yes, I know you can get mosquito sprays with neem as the active ingredient. These are formulated differently than the insecticidal sprays, and even here, you better hope you aren't allergic to the neem oil.) I haven't heard anything specific about it affecting birds, but I wouldn't take chances where they are concerned either. Birds in general have very delicate lungs. Neem is one of the safest products, natural or otherwise, that works incredibly effectively against insects, and is a bacteriacidal agent as well. But it IS an insecticide, and should be used with caution. All too often proponents of the natural products like these downplay the sometimes serious side effects these can have. It works by messing with the insects hormones so that it "confuses" them so they won't eat, and have trouble reproducing (it can be a contraceptive agent in mammals, including people, too. And be especially wary of it around kids.) This is a product that most of the time is safe to use, but be as careful of it as you would be any other insecticide.
Also, if you use it on things like aphids outside, remember that it will work on ALL the insects sprayed, including lacewing and lady bug larva feeding on the aphids. Try and treat such problems before they get too serious, or if you see lots of aphid lions feasting on the aphids, wait for the natural biological controls to do their job. In the long run, the latter often works the best.
USDA zone 8b
Suggest you try a hand sprayer with a mixture of 1/4 liquid soap and 3/4 water.
Won't hurt your plants and is environmental safe.
Will often not only control but eradicate the pesky critters.
Works for me!