African Violet Pests: Types, Control, and Prevention

African violets are beloved houseplants that add color and vibrancy to a home. This article will delve into the various types of pests that threaten African violets and offer strategies for controlling and preventing these unwanted guests, ensuring your plants remain healthy and beautiful.

pests of african violets

African violet pests are unwanted insects or mites that infest and damage African violets, causing various symptoms and hindering plant growth.

Pest Description Symptoms
Aphids Tiny, pear-shaped insects that feed on plant sap Yellowing leaves, stunted growth
Mealybugs Soft-bodied, cottony insects that suck sap Yellow leaves, white residues
Spider mites Minute arachnids that infest plant leaves Webbing, yellow or brown spots
Thrips Slender insects that feed on plant tissue Distorted leaves, black fecal spots
Whiteflies Small, white, moth-like insects that suck sap Leaf yellowing, leaf curling

Controlling and preventing these pests is essential for the health of your African violet. Each pest requires different methods of treatment and prevention, so it’s important to diagnose the issue accurately.

Aphids tend to cluster on the undersides of leaves and young shoots. To control and prevent aphids, use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or release beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings.

Mealybugs leave behind a cottony residue and are often found on the roots, leaves, or stems. Control mealybugs by dabbing them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or applying insecticidal soap.

Spider mites are small, so they’re hard to see, but they cause webbing and pale spots on leaves. Use a miticide, insecticidal soap, or neem oil to treat and prevent spider mites.

Thrips damage African violets by puncturing plant cells and cause distorted leaves. Control thrips by using insecticidal soap, neem oil, or predatory insects like pirate bugs.

Whiteflies are attracted to the undersides of leaves and cause leaf yellowing and curling. To control and prevent whiteflies, use sticky traps, insecticidal soap, or introduce natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings.

Implementing these pest control measures will help keep your African violets healthy and strong. Remember to regularly inspect your plants to catch infestations before they become severe.

What Types of Pests Affect African Violets?

Various pests can negatively impact the health and appearance of African violets. Here are the most common types to watch out for:

  1. Aphids: These small, pear-shaped insects feed on plant sap, often causing yellowing leaves and stunted growth.
  2. Mealybugs: Another sap-sucking insect, mealybugs leave behind a cottony residue on leaves, stems, and roots and cause yellow leaves.
  3. Spider Mites: These tiny arachnids infest plant leaves, creating webbing and yellow or brown spots on the foliage.
  4. Thrips: Slender insects that feed on plant tissue, thrips cause distorted leaves and leave behind black fecal spots.
  5. Whiteflies: Small, white, moth-like insects that also feed on sap, whiteflies cause leaf yellowing and curling.

It’s important to identify which pest is affecting your African violet to determine the best course of treatment. Regularly inspect your plants, paying close attention to the undersides of leaves and new growth areas, as these are common hiding spots for pests.

Early detection is key in preventing extensive damage. Use a magnifying glass if necessary to spot the tiny pests, and look for symptoms such as leaf discoloration, webbing, or other visible damage.

In some cases, a pest infestation could be a sign of improper care of African violets. To prevent future issues, ensure your African violet is in the right growing conditions, which include adequate lighting, proper watering, and well-drained soil in the correct pH range.


Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that come in a variety of colors like green, black, or brown. They usually measure between 1/16 to 1/8 inches long and can multiply rapidly, making them a common pest on African Violets.


  • Curled, distorted, or yellow leaves
  • Sticky residue on leaves or nearby surfaces (honeydew)
  • Presence of ants attracted by the honeydew

If you suspect an aphid infestation, check the undersides of leaves and the stem joints carefully, as these are the areas where they typically cluster.


  • Remove heavily infested leaves and stems
  • Apply a diluted soapy water solution (1 teaspoon mild liquid soap mixed with 1 quart of water) using a spray bottle directly on the aphids
  • Use an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil as directed on the label

When using any pest control products, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, applying, and safety precautions.


  • Regularly check African Violets for pests, particularly during spring and summer when aphids are most active
  • Maintain optimal growing conditions to keep plants healthy and less susceptible to pests
  • Isolate newly acquired African Violets for at least two weeks before introducing them to your collection

By taking these steps, you can minimize the risk of aphid infestations and keep your African Violets healthy and thriving. Remember, early detection and intervention are key to managing these common pests.


Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects that are covered in a white, powdery wax, giving them a cottony appearance. They can vary in size from 1/8 to 1/4 inches long and are known to be a common pest for African Violets.


  • Appearance of white, cottony masses on leaves, stems, or roots
  • Stunted or distorted growth
  • Yellowing or dropping leaves

Examine your African Violets closely for mealybugs, especially in the crevices between leaves and stem joints.


  • Remove and discard heavily infested plant parts
  • Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and dab it onto visible mealybugs to kill them
  • Apply insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or a systemic insecticide as directed on the label

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, applying, and safety precautions when using pest control products.


  • Inspect your African Violets regularly, especially when watering or grooming
  • Keep your African Violets in optimal growing conditions to improve their resistance to pests
  • Quarantine new plants for a minimum of two weeks before adding them to your collection

By practicing prevention and early intervention, you can protect your African Violets from mealybug infestations, which will ensure your plants remain healthy and vibrant. Vigilance is essential in detecting these pests, so be sure to keep a close eye on your African Violets’ overall health.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny, spider-like arachnids that are usually less than 1/50 inches long and have two red dots on their bodies. Due to their small size, they can often go unnoticed until there is significant plant damage.


  • Fine webbing on leaves, especially on the undersides
  • Yellow speckles or stippling on leaves
  • Overall dull or tw isted appearance of the plant

Use a magnifying glass or your phone’s camera zoom to inspect your African Violets for spider mites, as they can be difficult to see with the naked eye.


  • Remove and discard affected leaves or plant parts
  • Spray the plant with water to dislodge the mites, taking care not to over-water the African Violet
  • Apply miticides, such as neem oil, horticultural oil, or other products specifically labeled for spider mite control, following the manufacturer’s directions

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, applying, and safety precautions when using pest control products.


  • Monitor your African Violets regularly for early signs of infestations
  • Keep plants in optimal conditions to maintain their health and make them less appealing to pests
  • Increase humidity around your African Violets, as spider mites prefer dry environments

By implementing prevention measures, you can reduce the risk of spider mite infestations and maintain the health and beauty of your African Violets. It is crucial to remain vigilant and act promptly when you notice signs of a possible infestation.


Thrips are small, slender insects, often barely visible to the naked eye. They are usually less than 1/20 inch long, with fringed wings and range from yellow to dark brown. Thrips can pose a significant threat to African Violets, as their populations can quickly multiply under the right conditions.


  • Tiny, dark or yellowish insects moving quickly on the plant or visible when disturbed
  • Silvering or bronzing of leaves, often with tiny black specks of fecal matter
  • Distorted growth or curling of leaves
  • Flower deformation or discoloration

To confirm the presence of thrips, inspect closely the surface of leaves, flowers, and even the soil, where they can hide.


  • Remove infested leaves, flowers or plant parts and dispose of them responsibly
  • Rinse the affected plant with water to dislodge thrips, ensuring not to overwater your African Violet
  • Use insecticidal soap, neem oil or a systemic insecticide specifically designed for thrips control, adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for mixing, applying, and safety precautions when utilizing pest control products.


  • Regularly check your African Violets for pests and signs of infestations, especially during their active period in warmer months
  • Ensure optimal growing conditions to promote plant health, making your plants less susceptible to pest problems
  • Isolate any new African Violets for a minimum of two weeks before introducing them to your existing collection

Prevention and prompt action can drastically help in managing thrips infestations, guaranteeing that your African Violets remain healthy and flourishing. Regular monitoring and maintaining good plant health will assist you in identifying any potential problems before they escalate into serious issues.


Whiteflies are small, winged insects that are closely related to aphids and mealybugs. They are usually about 1/16 inches long and have a powdery, white appearance. Whiteflies can cause problems for African Violets, especially when their populations grow rapidly.


  • Tiny, white insects fluttering around the plant or settling on leaves
  • Discolored or yellowing leaves
  • Sticky residue on leaves, surrounding surfaces, or presence of black sooty mold

To identify whiteflies, look closely at the undersides of leaves where they tend to congregate.


  • Remove infested leaves or plant parts and dispose of them properly
  • Spray the affected plant with water to dislodge whiteflies, being cautious not to overwater your African Violet
  • Use insecticidal soap or a systemic insecticide labeled specifically for whitefly control, following the manufacturer’s instructions

Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines for mixing, applying, and safety precautions when using pest control products.


  • Routinely inspect your African Violets for pests and signs of infestations, particularly during their active period in the warmer months
  • Maintain optimal growing conditions to ensure your plants are healthy and less prone to pest problems
  • Quarantine any new African Violets for at least two weeks before introducing them to your existing collection

Prevention and early intervention can make a significant difference in managing whitefly infestations, ensuring that your African Violets remain healthy and thriving. Regular checks and keeping an eye on your plants’ overall condition will help you spot any issues before they become severe problems.

By identifying potential problems and addressing them promptly, you’ll keep your African violets healthy, vibrant, and pest-free.

What are the Symptoms of Pests on African Violets?

When pests infest African violets, they can cause various symptoms, indicating that your plant may be under attack. Familiarize yourself with these warning signs to take timely action:

  1. Leaf yellowing or discoloration: Aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies suck on plant sap, leading to yellowing leaves due to the loss of nutrients.
  2. Stunted growth: Plants infested with aphids may experience slowed growth due to the insects’ sap-sucking habits, depriving the plant of vital nutrients.
  3. White residues: Mealybugs leave behind a cottony residue on leaves, stems, and roots, a clear warning sign of their presence.
  4. Webbing on leaves: Spider mites create webbing on plant leaves as they infest and feed on the plant tissue, a prominent symptom of their presence.
  5. Yellow or brown spots on leaves: Spider mites puncture plant cells, causing pale spots that eventually lead to yellow or brown areas on leaves.
  6. Distorted leaves: Thrips feed on plant tissue, causing leaves to become distorted and developing an irregular shape.
  7. Black fecal spots: Thrips leave behind black fecal spots as they feed, an easily identifiable sign of their presence on your plant.

Regularly inspecting your African violets for these symptoms is crucial in ensuring early detection and control of pests. Take action to treat and prevent the pests once you identify the warning signs.

In addition to addressing pest issues, make sure to provide proper care to your African violets by maintaining the correct lighting, watering, and nutrient conditions. A healthy plant is better equipped to resist and recover from pest infestations. By monitoring your plants for these symptoms and providing adequate care, you can enjoy vibrant and healthy African violets.

What are the Best Ways to Treat Pests on African Violets?

Treating pests on African violets can be approached through chemical control, biological control, and cultural control methods. Each method has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the strategy that best suits your specific situation.

Chemical Control:

  1. Insecticidal soaps: These products are effective against many common pests, like aphids and spider mites, while being gentle on the plants.
  2. Neem oil: This natural treatment can be used against a variety of pests, including aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips.
  3. Miticides: These products are specifically designed to treat and control spider mites, a common pest of African violets.

Biological Control:

  1. Ladybugs: Releasing ladybugs in your indoor garden is a natural way to control aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies.
  2. Lacewings: Another beneficial insect, lacewings help control aphids and whiteflies, keeping your African violets healthy.
  3. Pirate bugs: These insects prey on thrips, helping reduce their population on your plants.

Cultural Control:

  1. Proper plant care: Ensure your African violets receive adequate light, proper watering, and appropriate nutrients to grow strong and resist pests.
  2. Quarantine new plants: When introducing new plants, keep them separate from your existing African violets to avoid transferring pests or diseases.
  3. Regular inspections: Monitor your plants for pest symptoms and address any issues promptly to avoid extensive damage.

Combining these methods and staying vigilant in monitoring your plants will help keep your African violets healthy, vibrant, and pest-free. Experiment with different treatments and prevention methods to find the ones that work best for you and your plants.

What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and How to Use on African Violets?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an environmentally-friendly approach to controlling pests that combines multiple methods, focusing on long-term prevention and minimizing harm to plants, people, and the environment. Implementing IPM for African violets involves the following steps:

  1. Monitor and identify pests: Regularly inspect your plants for pests or signs of damage; correctly identifying the pest helps determine the most effective control methods.
  2. Set action threshold levels: Determine at what point the pest infestation becomes unacceptable and requires intervention; this allows natural predators to help control pests before taking action.
  3. Implement preventive cultural practices: Create an environment that discourages pest infestations by providing proper care, including adequate lighting, water, and nutrients.
  4. Use mechanical and physical controls: Employ barriers, traps, and manual removal (e.g., using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol) to control pests without resorting to chemical treatments.
  5. Introduce biological controls: Utilize natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, or pirate bugs to manage pest populations, reducing the need for chemical treatments.
  6. Carefully select and apply chemical controls: When necessary, choose the least harmful chemical treatment (e.g., insecticidal soap or neem oil) and apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions to minimize environmental impact.
  7. Evaluate and adjust: Continuously assess the effectiveness of your IPM efforts, making adjustments as needed to maintain healthy, pest-free African violets.

By adopting and maintaining an IPM approach, you can effectively manage pests on your African violets, fostering a sustainable, healthy indoor garden while minimizing your reliance on potentially harmful chemical treatments. This comprehensive approach results in healthier plants and a more balanced indoor ecosystem.

What are The Most Effective Ways to Prevent Pests on African Violets?

Preventing pests on African violets is essential for maintaining healthy and vibrant plants. Taking a proactive approach to preventing pest infestations helps reduce the need for intervention later. Here are some effective ways to prevent pests on your African violets:

  1. Maintain optimal growing conditions: Providing proper lighting, watering, and nutrients helps promote healthy plant growth, making it less inviting for pests to infest.
  2. Inspect plants regularly: Regularly examine your African violets for signs of pests or damage; early detection allows you to address the issue before it worsens.
  3. Keep your growing area clean: Remove dead leaves, flowers, and debris from around your plants to reduce hiding places for pests and prevent them from flourishing.
  4. Quarantine new plants: Before introducing new plants into your African violet collection, isolate them for a period of time to ensure they’re pest-free.
  5. Use preventive treatments: Apply neem oil or insecticidal soap as a preventive measure to keep pests away from your plants, while minimizing the need for chemical intervention.
  6. Consider using biological controls: Introducing natural predators, such as ladybugs or lacewings, can help keep pest populations in check and reduce the likelihood of an infestation.
  7. Implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Employ a combination of prevention and control methods, focusing on long-term strategies that are environmentally friendly and minimize harm to your plants and indoor ecosystem.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your African violet care routine, you’ll be better equipped to avoid pest infestations and protect your plants. Maintaining a proactive approach will help ensure that your African violets remain healthy, vibrant, and free from unwanted pests.

What Diseases Affect African Violets?

While pests are a significant concern for African violet owners, plants can also be affected by various diseases. Knowing the common diseases affecting African violets allows you to recognize symptoms and take appropriate action to protect your plants. Here are some common diseases to watch out for:

  1. Crown and root rot (Pythium and Rhizoctonia): These fungal diseases cause wilting, discoloration, and softening of the crown and roots, ultimately leading to plant death. Overwatering and poor drainage are common contributors.
  2. Powdery mildew (Oidium): This fungal disease appears as a white, powdery substance on leaves, causing them to become distorted and discolored. High humidity and poor air circulation can encourage its growth.
  3. Botrytis blight (Botrytis cinerea): Another fungal disease, botrytis blight, causes grayish-brown mold to form on leaves, flowers, and buds. It thrives in cool, humid conditions with poor air circulation.
  4. Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV): This viral disease causes leaf spots, rings, and yellow streaks, as well as necrosis of buds and leaves. It is primarily transmitted by thrips, so controlling these pests is crucial.

To prevent and treat these diseases, maintain proper growing conditions, such as adequate lighting, proper watering, and good air circulation. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of disease, and quickly isolate and treat any affected plants to avoid the spread of the disease to your other African violets.

By being vigilant in plant care and inspection, you can help prevent the occurrence of these diseases and keep your African violets healthy and visually appealing. Remember that proper plant care can significantly reduce the risk of both pests and diseases affecting your African violets.


Keeping African violets healthy and pest-free is achievable with proper care and vigilance. Implementing pest control measures and preventing diseases will ensure your plants thrive and remain vibrant. If you have further questions or tips, please feel free to leave a comment below!

African Violets   Updated: May 17, 2023
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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