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Flying Bugs on Houseplants

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How do I kill the small black flying bugs that are in my houseplants?

By Rosa from Glastonbury, CT

Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By Dale Cox07/07/2010

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is the answer to this and most other insect pest problems, including fleas and ticks on pets. This stuff is natural and non-toxic. You must use "Food Grade" DE though, as the type used for pool filters is heated treated and made poisonous in the process. A web search will return some good sources and more info on diatomaceous earth.

DE is a microscopic skeleton from a plant known as a Diatom, a single-celled alga that has a cell wall of silica. These tiny shells are very hard and sharp and when they come in contact with the body of an insect they cut like sandpaper. Because an insect depends on it's outer coating to seal in moisture, they dry out and die after being dusted with DE.

This abrasion will affect the insect in all stages of development so it is effective on adults as well as larvae.
Because the bugs you see flying around your houseplants are little flies, they can be completely eliminated in about a month, as it takes this long to kill the adults and all the maggots that are under the soil. Be sure to dig up the surface of the soil to get to these maggots. You can put some DE in the toe of an old sock to make a pounce bag for easy distribution. Use a dust mask to avoid breathing the dust while doing this.

Diatomaceous Earth is very inexpensive (about $15 for 10 pounds) for the many benefits it can have including health benefits for humans and pets as well as eliminating the need to use poison in many pest control situations.

By Cindy06/28/2010

Do not use the solution that is given for flying bugs on houseplants on this site because it killed all my plants. The solution I am talking about is the 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and 1 tsp baking soda.
Whoever came up with this recipe killed my beautiful plants. I am so upset so don't do anything this person suggest. I am devasted because I spent a lot of money on my plants. I had 38 plants and now I am down to two plants. How dare you put a recipe on this site that kills plants. Shame on you. Who are you and where did you get this recipe to kill plants?

Archives

Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

Every winter my houseplants get little bugs on them that really fly around if I disturb the plant. What do I do about it?

MB in WY


RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

These are white flies. Wash your plants with mild soap and water will kill most of the larva. So you may have to do it more than once. Do this before you bring the plants in for the winter and you will have fewer flys in side. You can get chemical sprays and liquids that work but are MUCH more toxic. Give them a bath first and see if that doesn't cure your problem. (01/31/2005)

RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

I agree that they might be whiteflies, if they are pure white and tiny. If so I WOULD buy the "toxic" stuff and spray the whole plant and then leave the area for a while. You will NOT get rid of whitefly by washing your plant...as soon as you move the plant all the adults fly away to sit and wait until the clean plant is brought back to the same place. Spray with Trounce or hang squares of shirt cardboard painted with Tanglefoot or any other yellow sticky substance to get rid of them. Whiteflies take 14 days to go from eggs to adult. The excretment (poop) from the whitefly is black and is usually under the leaf.

When you say "little bugs" you may not have whitefly. Are your bugs black and like a fruit fly that is very thin? Then you would have fungus gnats, that lay their eggs on the soil and it's the larvae that eat the roots of your plants... but the adults are harmless, just annoying when they fly around. There is a white powder (that you can find at the local garden shop) that you sprinkle on the top of the soil that kills the gnats as they emerge from the soil or as they land on the soil to lay their eggs.

I also would recommend really cleaning ("sterilizing") your plants before you bring them in for the winter. In the fall I had sprayed each planter with a "toxic chemical" just outside the front door and then about 15 minutes later brought my now sterilized plants in for the winter (that way I didn't have to smell the fumes from the chemical). This year I have had not a bug in the house anywhere, and I had brought about 30 assorted planters inside. (02/01/2005)

By valleyrimgirl

RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

I used to find bugs in my potted plants after i bought them in for the winter, too. But i read that filling a spray bottle with water and dish detergent and spraying the plant, the soil and the stems of the plants works great. Used to freak me out to see the bugs, now. I just get out the spray bottle, fill it with water and a little dish detergent. Spray and leave them alone to die. (02/01/2005)

by Patricia J.

RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

I find that putting 1/4 inch of sand around the soil of the plant keeps the adults from laying eggs in the wet soil. sand drys out fast and kills whatever eggs are left.

If you know a plant has these little critters, you can place plant pot and all in a clear garbage bag with a no pest strip. Tie the top and wait 24-48 hours, its not organic but the no pest strip is in the garbage bag. Not in or on your plants. (02/05/2005)

By Diamondee

RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

Lot's of good advice here but I have also heard of using warm water mixed with a small amount of Murphy's Oil Soap and spraying it all over the leaves and soil of the plants, with a repeat every couple of days till the pesky bugs are gone. Has anyone else heard of that? Would love to hear your in-put. (03/28/2007)

By DM

Archive: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

How can I enjoy my house plants without those pesky little flies? I don't want to spray anything on the plants, because I'm afraid it may harm them, but the bugs are driving me crazy. Any suggestions? Please help.

Serena from Austin, TX


RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

I just discovered that a dilute solution of Dr Bronners Peppermint Soap (Heath Food Stores) is used as a soil drench in killing fungus gnats. (01/12/2009)

RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

Here's two tonics that can help. The first one uses items found in every kitchen. The second feeds your plants while controlling pests. Both control a wide range of house plant pests.
  • 1/3 cup of cooking oil
  • 1tsp of baking soda
  • 1 cup of water

Place in a hand held sprayer and spray pests away.

  • 1 Tbsp of dish washing liquid
  • 1 Tbsp of seaweed extract
  • 1qt of lukewarm water

Place mixture in a hand held sprayer and spray. You'll feed your plants while sending pests packing.

Word of caution, fuzzy leaf house plants like the African Violet don't like their leaves wet, so don't spray them. Dip a Q-tip in your solutions and touch any pest on the leaves carefully. Results then in undamaged leaf and a pest running for its life. (01/16/2009)

RE: Flying Bugs on Houseplants

If they are black fruit fly-type bugs, and they also seem to be everywhere in your home. I had them too. I always empty and wash my pots, rinse the plant roots and put fresh soil in before bringing plants inside for winter.

This year I did not use a "soiless potting mix", just the regular, and had a fiesta of bugs after a few weeks. Overly wet soil seemed to boost populations, but then I sprayed with a Rose Pesticide with Pyrethrin, saturating the soil. Then I placed a thick layer of sand on top of the soil. The bugs are gone. Give it a day or two. It may take a second application of spray. I think that the sand prevents the fungus gnats from having a place to lay their eggs. You may not even need the spray. Try the sand alone first. Why use dangerous chemicals? (02/09/2009)

By Paula

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