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How to Get Rid of Peace Lily Bugs (With Pictures)

Peace lilies are indeed the epitome of tranquillity and serenity in the world of houseplants. They’re reasonably resilient, carefree, and tough but can be pestered by a few bugs. Thankfully, you can easily eradicate common peace lily pests when they invade your precious plant.

To get rid of peace lily bugs: First, blast the bugs off your peace lily using a forceful jet of water in the shower or outside, before wiping it down using cotton swabs drenched in rubbing alcohol. For control, spray with neem oil (or any standard horticultural oil) and insecticidal soap. 

Keeping your peace lily healthy and well-cared-for is your first line of defense against common bugs. Read on for more information about why your peace lily has pests and what you can do to prevent them from invading your plant in the first place.

Common Bugs on Peace lily
Common Bugs on Peace lily

Common Bugs on Peace Lily

[1] Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae)

Examine regularly to check if mealybugs have pitched a tent on your peace lily. They love to crowd on the undersides of leaves, especially where foliage emerges from the soil and along the main leaf veins.

Mealybugs are actually small wingless bugs about a fifth-inch long and have a white, gray, or waxy look. They form sticky woolly cotton-like clusters on the backs of the leaves, but you may also find them on the flowers and stems.

These voracious insects are equipped with hypodermic mouths. They feed on sap and excrete what’s not digested as gooey honeydew. The sticky, syrupy substance is a magnet for ants and mold spores that germinate into black or gray sooty coating on the leaves.

Symptoms

  • Presence of black sooty mold and/or ants
  • Cottony, waxy, or powdery whitish clusters on the back of leaves
  • Stunted growth if the infestation is severe
  • Visible exit holes left by the bugs

Treatment

Isolate your peace lily promptly upon sight of mealybugs, so the invasion doesn’t continue spreading

Method 1: Rubbing Alcohol

If you’re lucky enough to detect mealybugs before they proliferate into a fully-fledged invasion, you can easily get rid of them organically. However, they’re so tiny that removing them by hand may not be feasible. 

So your next best bet is to use rubbing alcohol, which compromises mealybugs’ protective wax and ultimately kills them.

  1. Soak the cotton swabs generously in rubbing alcohol
  2. Use them to swab to clusters of mealybugs and their eggs. If possible, you can dab individual bugs in enough alcohol to destroy the waxy ‘skin’.
  3. Use the other side of the cotton swabs to wipe down the leaves, flowers, and stems. This action will help scrape the bugs off your peace lilies.
  4. Make sure to discard the mealybugs in a sanitary way.

Method 2: Water Spray

If the population of mealybugs is too large for swabbing, then this method will suffice. Use a powerful jet of water from the shower or garden hose to blast mealybugs off your peace lily.

Make sure to wrap the pot carefully and tightly using plastic wrap. This will help prevent the potting mix from getting drenched in water.

Method 3: Insecticidal Soap Spray

If your peace lily has been invaded by way too many mealybugs that swabbing using rubbing alcohol isn’t effective, you might want to turn to insecticidal soap. I prefer to use organic, pre-formulated insecticidal soap sprays on amazon.

  1. You’ll want to spray your peace lily once the temp dips below 90°F (32°C). 
  2. Also, soap may affect your peace lily if it’s water-stressed, so water it before spraying.
  3. Wear protective gear (respiratory mask, waterproof gloves, etc.) and spray the insecticidal soap following the instructions on the label.
  4. Continue spraying until the soap solution runs from all the peace lily’s foliage surfaces. Don’t forget the undersides of the leaves and portions of the stems covered by foliage.
  5. Repeat this treatment every 5-7 days until you defeat the mealybug invasion.

If the infestation seems to have overwhelmed your peace lily, consider water in and around the roots using systemic insecticide (amazon link)

Method 4: Horticultural Oil

Any standard horticultural oil or neem oil will also help get rid of mealybugs.

  1. Prepare your oil spray using 1 gallon of water. Mix in four tablespoons of neem oil.
  2. Shake the mix vigorous to ensure a uniform mixture
  3. Wait until your peace lily is dry and temperatures fall below 100°F (37°C)
  4. Apply the spray generously until all surfaces are drenched in the oil mixture
  5. Spray your peace lily again after 5-7 days. 

Repeat this until you keep the invasion under control. Note that the above treatment methods work for almost all common peace lily bugs that I’ll discuss ahead.

[2] Spider Mites (Tetranychidae)

Spider mites are another type of sap-sucking pests that may invade your peace lily. Unlike aphids and mealybugs, these 8-legged insects don’t secrete honeydew. They appear as fine silky webbing on your lily.

If you suspect that spider mites are present on your peace lily, shake your plant over a white sheet of paper. You will see dust-like particles agitating on the sheet.

Spider Mites
Spider Mites

Symptoms

  • Webbing is seen between leaves of your peace lily
  • Curled, speckled, or discolored foliage
  • Brown spots on the leaves
  • Leaves may turn bronze or yellow due to severe infestation

Treatment

Much like mealybugs, you can use an insecticidal soap spray or neem oil to fight off spider mites. First, you must use a strong blast of water to rinse as many bugs as possible off your peace lily. You should pay extra attention to the undersides of the leaves.

For outdoor or garden peace lilies, consider using sulfur-based insecticides. Neem oil, insecticidal soap, and most horticultural oils will also eradicate spider mites outdoors.

You might have to repeat the treatment regime several times weekly. It might take several weeks to fully curb the invasion.

[3] Scale Insects

You may also spot some scale insects on your peace lily, especially when it has been overwatered or lacks enough light. 

These small bugs have a hard shell and appear as minuscule bumps on the foliage and stems of your peace lily. They also suck the sap out of your plant and produce honeydew that encourages the growth of sooty mold.

Scale Insects on Peace lily
Scale Insects on Peace lily

Symptoms

  • Wilted or yellowed leaves
  • Stunted growth – if the infestation is out of control, it may overwhelm your peace lily
  • You may spot ants because of honeydew
  • Black sooty mold on leaves and stems

Treatment

Scale insects are tricky to control once they have developed a hard shell. However, you swab them using rubbing alcohol or remove them by hand.

If they’re still at the nymph stage, you can easily control them using insecticidal soap or horticultural oil like neem oil. 

Spray using an insecticide, making sure to focus on the back of the leaves. Reapply the insecticide every 7 to 10 days until the situation is under control.

[4] Aphids

Aphids are the most destructive of all pests that can potentially invade your peace lily. These 8-winged, soft-bodied honeydew-excreting bugs are so tiny (roughly a quarter-inch long) that they’re not visible to the naked eye. 

While these pear-shaped insects are often light green, they can appear yellow, gray, brown, black, or even pink. They might also sport a woolly or waxy coating (hence the name woolly worms).

Aphids reproduce extremely fast, clustering the undersides of the leaves and tender, new growths like young buds, stems & leaves.

Aphids

Symptoms

  • Keep an eye out for yellowing, stunted, curling, or distorted leaves
  • A sticky substance on the stems and leaves
  • You may see some ants on or around your peace lily 
  • Sooty mold may appear on stems, foliage, or flowers

Treatment

  1. Aphids can multiply quite rapidly, so you must launch control measures immediately. Use a strong stream of water to wash the aphids off your peace lily. You can, of course, squish aphids and remove them by hand; don’t forget to wipe your plant down with cotton swabs doused with rubbing alcohol.
  2. For larger colonies, you’d want to spray your peace lily using ready-formulated insecticidal soap or horticultural oil (preferably neem oil). Apply amply until the soap or oil drips from all over the plant, with a meticulous focus on the tender growths and leaf undersides. Reapply the insecticidal soap or oil every 2-3 days for two weeks (or as recommended by the manufacturer).
  3. Using acephate-based insecticide is another effective method that can do away with aphids. Apply as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Wait 7-10 days before respraying.
  4. For outdoor control, you can release natural predators of aphids into your garden, greenhouse, or backyard. Lady beetles, ladybugs, and lacewings are a good choice.

[5] Thrips (Thysanoptera)

If you notice some tiny white or black insects flying all over your peace lily, they may be thrips. Early signs include egg-like larvae that appear yellow on the top of the leaves, as well as flowers, stems, or even soil. 

Thrips

Symptoms

  • Heavy infestations manifest as brown or silvery streaks (appearing as a moving line when disturbed)
  • Distorted new growth
  • Black fecal spots on the leaves
  • Splotchy, faded, or pale-colored foliage
  • Malformed flower buds

Treatment

  1. Since thrips rarely have predators indoors, they can multiply quickly. As such, early control is key, plus you must treat both the soil and your peace lily.
  2. First, use a powerful stream of water to knock thrips off your peace lily. Make sure to rinse the back of the leaves because that’s where most adults hide.
  3. When it comes to sprays, using neem oil (or standard horticultural oil) and insecticidal soap is an effective yet safe and organic method. Repeat spraying every 10-days until the infestation is gone.
  4. You can set up blue or yellow sticky traps near your peace lilies. This method can also help you detect a future infestation early.

[6] Fungus Gnats 

If fungus gnats have made a home of your peace lily, you’ll see tiny black flies parading around your plant. They have long legs and antennae, but their eggs are laid into the soil. These bugs are often seen in warm, damp conditions.

Yellow Sticky Trap to Control Fungus Gnats
Yellow Sticky Trap to Control Fungus Gnats

Symptoms

  • Leaf wilting
  • Leaf loss
  • Leaf yellowing
  • Stunted or poor growth

Treatment

As I’ve noted above, too much moisture in the soil or around your peace lily attracts fungus gnats. So, it’s best to allow two to three inches of soil beneath the surface to dry out a bit between irrigations.

To control adult fungus gnats, use a pyrethrin-based insecticide spray. Make sure your peace lily is drenched in the insecticide spray. Wait around two days to spray again, repeating until they’re no more.

Yellow sticky trap is a very effective way of controlling fungus gnats without using any chemicals.

Why Does My Peace Lily Have Bugs

Wet Conditions

Most bugs that attack peace lilies are drawn to damp or wet conditions. It’s an instinct that helps them survive in their tiny bodies. They must seek out humid areas to keep their small bodies moist; otherwise, they’ll die from drying out.

Bugs like fungus gnats need a warm, moist potting mix to lay their eggs. Overwatering, high humidity, and stagnant water can create these damp conditions that peace lily bugs love so much.

High Humidity

As I’ve mentioned, high humidity leads to a wet microclimate around your peace lily, attracting fungus gnats, aphids, and other bugs. To reduce humidity, space out your plants, improve aeration, and avoid overwatering.

Poor Aeration

Pests thrive in poorly aerated areas. For one, peace lilies tend to become sluggish and unhealthy in stuffy and poorly-ventilated spaces, making them vulnerable to opportunistic pests and diseases.

Aeration helps speed up the evaporation of soil moisture and any water that may have wet the foliage. If the potting soil remains damp for long, this creates a highly humid environment that pests like to thrive in.

To remedy the situation, space out your plants, use an oscillating air fan, or crack open a window. In any case, move your peace lily to a well-aerated area.

Inadequate Nutrients

Nutrient deficiencies render your peace lilies vulnerable to pests. Manganese and potassium, for instance, are required for the optimal production of defensive compounds that protect your plant against pest infestations. 

Peace lilies that lack nutrients like silicon, zinc, boron, or calcium may be stunted, malformed, and weak, creating room for an attack. 

You must plant your peace lilies in a loose, rich potting mix with an abundance of organic matter that boosts fertility. Feed them a slow-release fertilizer weekly or biweekly to support heavy summer growth.

Too Much Fertilizer

You must fertilize your peace lily often in the summer, stopping when the slow-growth months of fall and winter kick in. 

If you continue applying fertilizer, too much of it can lead to brown spots and root damage, making your lily susceptible to bugs.

How to Get Rid of Peace Lily Bugs Naturally

[1] Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural, organic insecticide that works wonders against most peace lily pests. It boasts a residual effect, helping control future invasions of bugs.

Spray neem oil mixture generously on the stems and foliage. It kills some of them upon contact or when they consume neem oil-laced foliage.

[2] Insecticidal Soap Spray

Another effective yet organic treatment is insecticidal soap. It kills mealybugs, fungus gnats, thrips, spider mites, and even scale insects upon contact. This gives you the upper hand, especially if you detect the infestation early.

You can use a ready-for-use organic insecticidal soap or prepare your soapy concoction at home. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing (mild) with a cup of vegetable oil. Add a gallon of water and shake vigorously before use.

Spray until the insecticidal soap covers all of the peace lily’s foliage, stems, and other affected parts. Wait for ten to fifteen minutes before rinsing off your peace lily.

[3] Oil Spray

Horticultural oil spray made from soybean, cottonseed, tea tree, canola, sunflower, or mineral oils, these sprays provide you with an environmentally friendly and effective way to curb insects that pester your peace lily.

What’s more, you can make your homemade oil spray using any available oil, water, and detergent. I highly suggest using canola oil, mixing 1-tablespoon with 1qz of water, and a few drops of mild laundry detergent. They kill when it comes to contact with most soft-bodied bugs.

[4] Herbal Water Spray

These sprays are easy to make at home using potent herbs like lavender, rue, sage, thyme, mint, rosemary, or peppermint. You can also blend in some chopped herbs, garlic, and chili oil. Don’t forget to mix with some liquid dishwashing/castile soap or water.

[5] Pyrethrin

Trusted by gardeners for many decades, pyrethrin is a plant-derived, naturally occurring insecticide that’s eco-friendly, effective, and safe to use indoors. The active ingredient paralyzes the insects when it comes into contact with them.

[6] Garlic Spray

Garlic hosts some of the most potent compounds that serve as insect repellants. To whip up a garlic spray, put 4-minced or pounded garlic cloves into a tablespoon of mineral oil and let it soak for 24 hours. 

Get rid of chunky garlic and add a tablespoon of mild soap or detergent, adding a pint of water before spraying.

[7] Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide that’s powerful enough to kill most fungus gnats, as well as larvae of other bugs that deposit eggs into the potting mix.

Tips to Prevent Bugs on Peace Lily 

When it comes to dealing with peace lily bugs, prevention is normally the best policy. Here are some tried and true ways you can prevent them and minimize damage:

  • Inspect your peace lilies regularly for bugs. Make sure to check the back of leaves and tender new growths.
  • Ensure aeration by maintaining good airflow, pruning occasionally, and spacing out your plants
  • Remove and discard any disease, dead, or dropped leaves, tissues, and other plant materials when you see them. When they form debris on top of the potting mix, they invite pests & diseases.
  • Don’t reuse potting mix when transplanting or repotting your peace lilies.
  • Isolate any diseased or infected houseplants immediately
  • Poor watering habits can invite unwanted bugs. Avoid overwatering, overhead irrigation, or letting water splash on the foliage. Irrigate your plants early in the morning.
  • Avoid damp conditions – Don’t let your peace lilies sit in standing water, plus don’t overcrowd your houseplants.
  • Fertilize properly – Overfertilization is a bad practice that encourages pest infestations. Apply a well-balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer every 2-3 months only during the growing season. Avoid fertilizing in winter. 
  • Give your peace lilies bright indirect light and maintain ideal temperatures of between 68-85 °F (20-29°C).

(Source: Clemson University)