Spider plants are a great choice if you want a low-maintenance, trouble-free houseplant. Aphids, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, and whiteflies can annoy them at times. Thankfully, you can easily prevent and eliminate spider plant bugs.
The most common spider plant bugs are aphids, mealybugs, and scales. Eliminate the majority of spider plant pests with a strong stream of water. Spray your plant with insecticidal soap, neem oil, or homemade insecticidal sprays to eradicate remaining insects. Proper irrigation, adequate aeration, and sufficient light should all contribute to their prevention.
The type of bug and the severity of the infestation will determine how to get rid of these pests. Continue reading to learn how to spot common spider plant bugs. I’ve also included some natural methods for removing them.
Common Spider Plant Bugs
Mealybugs are among the most common bugs attracted to spider plants. The outside of these sap-suckers is white cottony or waxy. The same cottony fuzz is left on the backs of your spider plant’s leaves.
Mealybugs are members of the soft-bodied scale insect family. This means they are related to other sap-sucking insects such as whiteflies and aphids. In terms of sap, these bugs sap the life from your spider plant.
They secrete honeydew at the end of their nutritious meals. Ants feed on this sticky, gooey substance. The sugary syrup is also ideal for mold growth, both of which cause your spider plant to become even more malnourished.
- White cottony growths are most often found on the undersides of foliage
- Presence of easily agitated small insects with a white waxy coating. Skip to other parts of the plant when disturbed.
- Black sooty mold coating the foliage and stem surfaces
- Stunted growth due to sooty mold covering that reduces photosynthesis
- Heavily-infested leaves turn yellow, wither, and droop
- Your spider plant may start dying from a large infestation
Control and Management
The majority of mealybug infestations are caused by newly-homed houseplants. They could have acquired the pests from a nursery, plant shop, or greenhouse. As a result, treat and isolate newly purchased plants for at least three weeks.
Keep affected spider plants separate from healthy houseplants.
There are a variety of mealybug control methods available.
- Rubbing alcohol: This method is most effective when dealing with small mealybug infestations. Make use of cotton swabs dipped in 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, rubbing them into the affected areas and mealybugs themselves. The rubbing alcohol will melt’ the bugs’ protective waxy shells, allowing them to be eradicated.
- Non-toxic sprays: I urge you to use an indoor-safe spray like neem oil (Check the latest price on Amazon here) or insecticidal soap. They’re both non-toxic, and their oils aid in the suffocation of mealybugs. Spray your spider plant once a week until the pests are gone.
- Biological controls: To get rid of mealybugs, I strongly recommend using natural predators. Mealybug destroyers are your best bet, but ladybugs and lacewing larvae can also do a good job.
- Soil drenches: Mealybugs may attack the roots if the infestation is severe enough. You’ll need to use an insecticidal soil drench (Check the latest price on Amazon here) designed for houseplants for this. To eliminate mealybugs, use the product as directed on the label.
Aphids, like their soft-bodied cousin mealybugs, enjoy drinking spider plant sap. They suck the nutritious liquid by boring their mouthpieces into tender growths. As a result, your spider plant is weak and depressed.
They also excrete honeydew on the foliage’s surface. As a result of mold growths, the leaves will be sticky and sooty. Aphids are difficult to spot because they congregate in folded creases and undersides of foliage.
The good news is that they rarely cause significant damage. Unfortunately, they can infect your spider plant with bacterial wilt and other deadly diseases.
- Aphids are tiny pear-shaped bugs that often appear pale green. But they can be gray, red, black, peach, or even yellow.
- Heavily infested leaves may start yellowing and appear puckered
- You may spot some ants marching around the sticky honeydew
- Sticky black sooty molds on foliage surfaces
Control and Management
You’ll want to isolate plants affected by aphids. Similarly, treat and quarantine newly bought houseplants when they get to your home.
- Squish aphids: Aphids are soft-bodied and not fast-movers. That’s why squishing can be an effective way of controlling them. Use a cotton swab soaked with rubbing alcohol to wipe off your spider plant.
- Wash them away: You can also wash them off your spider plant. Use a blast of water that’s strong enough to knock them off. Dab the remaining lot with an alcohol-dipped cotton swab as a secondary control measure.
- Spray them: Apply neem oil or insecticidal soap spray all over your spider plant. The oils will only work if they coat the aphids. Repeat application at an interval of 7 to 10 days until you curb the aphid infestation.
If you’re able to attract ladybugs, that’s dandy. These natural predators will decimate the aphid population in no time.
 Spider Mites (Tetranychidae)
The bad news is that you have a spider mite infestation if you notice small webbings on your spider plant. These small arachnids (they are not insects) leave a spray of tiny holes in your plant’s foliage.
Spider mites are known to thrive in dry, hot conditions. Temperatures around 80°F (26°C) are ideal for them. So keep an eye out for them in outdoor spider plants during the summer months of July to September.
- Leaves that look dry and turn yellow are the most common symptom of spider mites.
- Tiny silky webbings on the leaves
- Discolored or spotted leaves
- Heavy infestation may cause foliage to appear sunburned or scorched
- Tiny holes spread all over the foliage
Control and Management
Spider mites can be persistent so that you might need several methods of attack.
- Wash them away: Use a hard stream of warm water to kill and dislodge them. Make sure to focus on folded areas and the backs of the leaves.
- Use a miticide: There are various miticides and chemical pesticides that can help curb spider mites. I’ve found that formulations that contain cyfluthrin and malathion tend to work best.
- Battle them with natural predators: Most natural predators of spider mites are available for purchase. Your choice includes predatory mites like Amblyseius andersoni, Amblyseius californicus, and Phytoseiulus persimilis. You can also try soldier bugs and predatory thrips.
- Spray with neem oil: This organic horticultural oil contains azadirachtin, which helps destroy spider mites. You can use it safely without harming pets and humans.
- Insecticidal soap sprays: Insecticidal oils and soaps can also be effective against spider mites. However, you must apply every 5-7 days repeatedly until you control the problem. Change up the soap content to prevent spider mites from becoming immune to them.
- Boost humidity: Spider mites prefer drier conditions. So, you can curb their numbers by creating a humid oasis around your spider plant. Spritz/mist it daily or use a humidifier.
Don’t forget to isolate your plant. It’ll give it some time to fight off the infestation alone without compromising other houseplants.
Scale insect infestations begin with tiny moving crawlers that cluster on the backs of the leaves. When these little bugs settle, they form hard protective shells and become immobile. They have the ability to attach to the leaves, stems, and plantlets.
Scales appear as shell-like bumps on spider plants. They also sucking sap from the foliage and excreting the syrupy honeydew.
- Clusters of tiny shell-like bumps on the leaves and stems. They can look white, orange, or black.
- Stunted and yellowed leaves
- The appearance of blackish mold on affected surfaces
Control and Management
Timing is crucial when controlling scale infestation. They’re most vulnerable during the crawler stage. So, apply an insecticide when they’re mobile.
- Rubbing alcohol – Simply dub or rub some 70% isopropyl alcohol on scales to kill them. I find this technique effective against a light infestation.
- Spray with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap – You must cover the whole spider plant with soap or oil spray. This method is best used to kill scale insects at the larval or nymph phase. You’ll need to spray multiple times for adequate control.
- Apply neem oil – Unlike insecticidal soap sprays, neem oil has a more potent ingredient: azadirachtin. As such, it will help zap adult scales.
- Use predatory insects – I find lady beetles and soldier beetles to be quite effective for most scale bugs. You can also use beneficial insects like parasitic wasps.
Whiteflies are small fly-like white critters that appear as clusters on the undersides of spider plant leaves. They’re pretty mobile during the day. If you shake your plant, they’ll scatter like crazy.
Whiteflies are close relatives to mealybugs and aphids. As such, they’re sap-suckers that emaciate your spider plant. Common symptoms include:
- Honeydew makes leaves sticky and cause black sooty mold
- Weak and stunted plant
- You may see ants farming the honeydew
- Leaves may turn yellow, pale, and wilt
- Leaves may shrivel and fall off
Control and Management
Most infestation of whiteflies begins at greenhouses or plant shops. It’s best to inspect your newly delivered spider plant for these critters. Even better, isolate new plants for at least three weeks.
Blast them off: A powerful spray of water can help dislodge most scale eggs, nymphs, and adults. You can also vacuum over your plant with the same result.
Set up sticky traps: You can stick the sticky tapes around your spider plant or in pots. They’ll do the same job of trapping the whiteflies.
Spray with pyrethroid insecticides: Loaded with pyrethrins, this insecticide spray with help control adult whiteflies.
Use horticultural oils: To best control nymphs and pupae of whiteflies, spray to cover your spider plant thoroughly with some neem oil.
Apply insecticidal soap: You can use ready-to-use insecticidal soap or prepare your own at home. Start with a tablespoon of Ivory Liquid in a gallon of water for a light infestation. It’s to use insecticidal soap along with pyrethroid insecticides.
 Fungus Gnats
If you see tiny gray mosquito-like bugs flitting about your spider plant during watering, you probably have an infestation of fungus gnats.
- Larvae of fungus gnats do the most damage, stunting the growth of your plant.
- Your spider plant may wilt or droop for no particular reason
- Leaf drop
- Leaf yellowing
- Gnats milling around your plant
Control and Management
- Hold off watering: Fungus gnats reproduce in damp soil in warmer conditions. If you let the growing medium dry out, the eggs and larvae will die from dehydration.
- Use yellow sticky traps: Fungus gnats are hypnotized by the color yellow. They will gravitate towards the yellow sticky tape and get trapped. You can use a raw potato and place it cut side down over the soil.
- Use biological controls: The most effective biological control I recommend is Bacillus thuringiensis (Check the latest price on Amazon here). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
How Do I Get Rid of Bugs from My Spider Plant Naturally
A strong spray of water can control some spider plant bugs like aphids, mealybugs, and aphids. You must wash them off repeatedly in the shower to work.
Adjusting your care regime can help prevent or manage some pests. For instance, you can boost humidity to control spider mites that prefer hot, dry environments. On the flip side, allowing the soil to dry out can help manage fungus gnat infestation.
Sticky Trap/ Flying Trap
Flytraps and sticky traps help reduce the populations of some bugs. For instance, yellow sticky traps are effective against fungus gnats, winged aphids, and whiteflies.
Use your gloved hands or handheld vacuum cleaners to pick up larger bugs. This is useful to reduce the population of mealybugs and scales. Sometimes, it is best to use a cotton swab laden with rubbing alcohol.
Most spider plant bugs have natural predators that you can attract to your garden. These biological controls can be bought online, from specialty suppliers, or a botanical shop. I’ve listed the most effective ones in the table below.
|Biological Control/Predator||Controlled Bugs|
|Green lacewings||Spider mites, scales, mealybugs, and aphids|
|Mealybug destroyer||Mostly mealybugs|
|Predatory mites||Spider mites|
|Soldier beetles||Mostly aphids|
|Leptomastix dactylopii||This mealybug parasite predate on mealybugs|
|Aphidoletes aphidimyza||This predatory midge kills aphids|
|Encarsia Formosa||This is a whitefly parasite|
|Bacillus thuringiensis||Bt works best against fungus gnats|
Insecticidal soaps work as dilute sprays of fatty acid potassium salts that compromise the breathing system of the pests. They’re pretty helpful in controlling many spider plant bugs, including mealybugs, aphids, scale nymphs, and spider mites.
Neem oil is a neem tree extract and a godsent organic insecticide. It works by blocking the respiratory system of insects. It’s a systemic insecticide that remains useful for years against whiteflies, mealybugs, aphids, and scale.
Rubbing alcohol is a powerful method that works against soft-bodied insects with a waxy coating. That’s why it’s the ultimate control for mealybugs.
Diluted mineral and distillate-based horticultural oils are a must-have in your gardening toolkit. They’re great insecticides for controlling spider mites, whiteflies, and scales.
Pyrethrin, a natural insecticidal compound, is the active ingredient in pyrethroid insecticides. It’s derived from the plant pyrethrum. It’s safe, quick-acting, and effective for controlling the majority of spider plant bugs.
This is an organic mineral insecticide that destroys the outer coating of insects and dehydrates them to death. Best of all, it’s known for its residual properties, meaning it kills pests, eggs, and larvae long after the first application. (Source: Colorado State University)
Why Does My Spider Plant Have Bugs
Hot, Dry Conditions
Some spider plant bugs like spider mites thrive in hot, dry areas. This usually happens during winter when central heating turns the air inside your home dry & crispy.
Some bugs like mealybugs thrive in wet and humid conditions. They need the humidity to keep their bodies hydrated and supple. Luckily, spider plants hate too much moisture.
Spider plants are most vulnerable to pests when they’re sick and weakened. This can happen if it’s been overwatered. Wet causes root rot and other ailments that make your spider plant susceptible to bugs.
Besides, insects like aphids, mealybugs, and fungus gnats do need wet conditions to thrive.
Most spider plant pests thrive in areas that lack proper ventilation. Moreover, your plant needs good aeration to stay healthy and fight off disease and pest infestation.
Soil also stays damp when there’s poor ventilation. This increases your chances of overwatering your spider plant. That’s only going to attract infections and pests.
Tips to Prevent Bugs on Spider Plant
- Check on your spider plant regularly – if you spot any pests, be sure to control them before they turn into a menace.
- Ensure proper irrigation – Only water your spider plant when 2-3 inches of growing medium feels dry.
- Quarantine any infested house plants immediately. This goes for any plant that was recently brought from the shop, greenhouse, etc.
- Ensure good aeration
- Use a ready-to-use well-draining growing medium when repotting your spider plant.
- Maintain proper temperatures of 70-90°F ( 21-32°C) and give bright, indirect light.