How to Get Rid of Bugs on Alocasia Plants?
It’s not just you who loves houseplants. Bugs love them too. Unfortunately, even your Alocasia is at risk, regardless how strong and healthy it looks.
If you ever had to deal with a bug infestation you probably already know how annoying it can be and how difficult it is to get rid of them.
The leaves of Alocasia plants can be a prime objective for sap-sucking insects, so you’ll need to be prepared with all the knowledge on which bugs are likely to infest Alocasia plants, what are the symptoms, and how to deal with a pest infestation.
Below, I cover all these things and offer you tips on how to prevent pests on Alocasia plants.
Bugs That Attack Alocasia Plants
All the usual houseplant pests can set up shop on your Alocasia plants. I will discuss them all, including their symptoms and how they affect your Alocasia plant.
I will also write about the remedies that work best against them and how you should apply those remedies for best results.
– Spider Mites
Spider mites are possibly the most common pests to affect Alocasia plants, so it’s not an accident that I’m discussing them first.
Besides being the most common ones to attack your Alocasia plant, they’re also very sneaky and hard to get rid of.
One of the difficulties in managing a spider mites infestation is identifying these pesky bugs – they are extremely small, almost invisible to the naked eye.
One of the risk factors for spider mites is warm, dry conditions. This is another reason why it’s important to correctly manage the humidity levels for Alocasia plants.
Low humidity is not only bad because it can cause symptoms of dehydration in Alocasia plants. It’s also bad because it can create a hospitable environment for spider mites.
So, if you can’t see spider mites, how do you know they’re there? Turns out initial symptoms are also very discreet but luckily not invisible.
Symptoms of spider mites infestation:
- Tiny bleached or yellowish spots on the leaves
- Webbing on the leaves
- Drooping, yellow or brown leaves
- Scorching around leaf edges
- Leaves falling off
As you can see, to the untrained eye, these symptoms may seem indicative of other issues such as dehydration, too much sun exposure, or even root rot. So you can see why it’s so difficult to identify the underlying cause.
However, neither of these issues cause webbing. If you notice webbing, however discreet on your Alocasia, there’s a very high certainty it’s spider mites.
How to get rid of spider mites on Alocasia plants:
- Use a cloth and wash down the leaves under cold, running water.
- Use a solution of dish soap and water or use neem oil to wipe down the leaves.
- Use insecticidal soap spray that targets spider mites to spray the foliage of your Alocasia.
- Remove damaged foliage, they are no use to the plant anymore and they won’t recover.
Seeing how spider mites are difficult to detect, I recommend that you read my tips on how to prevent pest infestations in Alocasia plants.
Mealybugs are another sap-sucking insect to feed on your Alocasia plants. While they are not as great tricksters as spider mites, they do have one trick they pull – preferring to set up shop on the underside of your leaves.
You’ll be able to identify these based on their oval-shapes and cottony, waxy surface. Male mealybugs have wings and look a lot like small flies.
They’re often not easy to identify when they sit on the lower parts of the plant. Plus, they can hide in the crevices and cracks of the plant.
Because most pest infestations are not immediately visible, they can wreak havoc in your plants in a fairly short amount of time.
Here are the symptoms of a mealybug infestation in Alocasia plants:
- Cottony white wax on the leaves
- Sticky substance (honeydew) on leaves
- Growth of black sooty mould on leaves
- Distorted or stunted plant growth
- Yellowing or dying leaves
Once you’ve identified that your Alocasia plant is crawling with mealybugs, it’s important to apply treatment immediately.
Here’s how to get rid of a mealybugs infestation:
- For light infestations use a cotton swab dabbed in a mixture of 70% alcohol and water and wash down the leaves with the substance
- For heavy infestations, use an insecticidal soap to spray down individual leaves to destroy leftover eggs
- Retreatment and several applications will be needed to decimate the mealybugs population
- Heavily infested plants may be beyond help and you might need to discard them
- Use a systemic indoor plant insecticide that needs to be watered into the potting mix. This can also help to prevent pests.
Please refer to the tips at the end of this article to see other strategies on how you can prevent pest infestations in houseplants.
There are a couple of varieties of scale insects that can infest your Alocasia plants. These sap-sucking insects usually prefer hiding on the underside of the plant on both sides of leaf veins.
Scales can also be found in plant crevices between emerging leaves, making it difficult to detect them. As soon as plants start showing symptoms, usually a full-blown infestation is already under way.
They have round or oval-shaped bodies, and some can have a hard shelled body. Others have soft bodies, which makes them easier to remove. They’re either brown or tan in color.
Symptoms of Alocasia scale infestation include:
- Large quantities of honeydew on plant leaves
- Honeydew can attract ants so if you notice ants on your Alocasia, it’s also a sign of a pest infestation
- Honeydew can reduce the ability of new leaves to unfurl, so you can expect distorted or deformed growth
- Premature leaf loss, dieback
- Weakened plant
- Black fungus on leaves or stems
How to get rid of scale insects on your Alocasia plant:
- Physically remove insects with a cotton swab or a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Use horticultural oil, insecticidal soaps, or other systemic insecticidal
- Multiple applications with different types of products may be necessary to destroy scales.
As you can see, scale insects are also very difficult to treat, which is why there should also be an emphasis on prevention.
Aphids are also sap-sucking insects that have small, pear-shaped bodies. Some have wings, others are wingless, and they come in a variety of colors including green, brown, red, gray, yellow or even black.
Although they’re deemed as low risk for the health of the plant and they can be managed without the use of hard chemicals, they can still inflict some damage to your plants.
Unfortunately for exotic plant owners, aphids are more likely to attack exotic plants rather than native ones. You’re also very likely to find them on vegetables like broccoli or cabbage.
Unlike spider mites that prefer dry and warm conditions, aphids enjoy warmth and moisture, and their numbers build rapidly in such environments.
Symptoms of aphid infestations in Alocasia plants include:
- Curled, twisted or yellow leaves
- Stunted growth
- Honeydew on leaves
- Sooty mould or ants on leaves
- Wilted shoots
- Drooping leaves
- Leaves covered in Aphid skin casts
How to get rid of an aphid infestation in Alocasia plants:
- Use a high-pressure water spray to physically remove aphids from your Alocasia
- High-pressure water will also remove honeydew and any mould that’s been growing on the leaves
- Use low risk pesticides to spray the plant
- Use heavy insecticides only as a last resort
Paying close attention to prevention, especially keeping the leaves moisture-free can go a long way in preventing aphid infestations.
I conclude my list of sap-sucking bugs that attack Alocasia plants with thrips. These are small, almost invisible insects that are wingless when they are immature but grow wings when they mature.
They’re oval and narrow bodies that are 2 mm in length. They’re available in a variety of colors with brown, gray and yellow being the most common.
Thrips attack the foliage of the plant and prefer fresh leaves to older ones.
One way to test for thrips is to shake a leaf over a white sheet of paper. If the leaf is infested with thrips, you’ll notice tiny specks falling on the paper. If you take a magnifying glass and examine them, you’ll be able to identify these strategists of disguise.
A risk factor for the proliferation of thrips is low moisture levels. These insects will thrive in a dry environment, just like spider mites.
Symptoms of a thrips infestation in an Alocasia plant include:
- Slivery-white spots or streaks on the leaves, which turn brown or rusty
- Tiny black excrement spots on and around the streaks
- Curled up leaves
- Leaf drop in rare cases
How to get rid of a thrips infestation in your Alocasia plant:
- Frequent sprayings with insecticidal soap
- Multiple applications of horticultural oil
- Using plant-derived insecticides such as those containing pyrethrins
- Using systemic insecticides if other treatment methods don’t give results
If possible, avoid using strong insecticides on your indoor plants. Heavily infested leaves can be removed.
How to Avoid Pests on Alocasia Plants?
Pest prevention should also be a major part of your overall strategy to manage bug infestations in your Alocasia plant.
As you’ve seen from the description of the types of pests to affect Alocasia plants and the way they can proliferate in locations that are hard to observe, they’re difficult to eradicate.
So, prevention has the role of significantly reducing their numbers or reducing the risk of an infestation in the first place.
Here are my top tips to prevent a pest infestation in Alocasia plants:
– Isolate and inspect new plants
New plants can be the ticket inside for pests, so every time you buy a new plant, inspect it thoroughly for pests and keep it separated from your other plants.
– Don’t group plants together
Plants are often grouped together to increase humidity levels around the plant. But the proximity of a bug infested plant can wreak havoc on other plants too when insects can easily move from one plant to the other.
– Use only sterilized tools
Whenever trimming or cutting back your plants, make sure to sterilize any tools you’re working with. Rubbing alcohol is best for this purpose as it can destroy even the eggs of some pests.
– Keep leaves clean
Leaves that aren’t clean can be a breeding ground for certain pests. Plus, physically wiping down the leaves can even help remove some bugs and their eggs, significantly reducing their numbers.
– Use organic pesticides preventatively
Organic pesticides can be used even preventatively. Neem oil is a solid choice not only for preventing pests but also for preventing fungal growth on the leaves.
– Watch out for humidity levels and water sitting on leaves
As I mentioned, some pests are attracted by dry conditions (spider mites), others thrive in a humid environment (aphids). Therefore, you need to avoid extremes in humidity levels.
Also, I don’t recommend watering Alocasia plants from above without drying the leaves after. Seeing how some pests prefer a moist environment, you don’t want the leaves to be wet for too long.
– Inspect your plants regularly
Regularly check your plants for bugs. The sooner you notice symptoms, the quicker you can put a stop to an infestation and the quicker your plant recovers.
When you’re applying treatment against pests, know that a single application may not be enough to get rid of bugs.
Follow the instructions on the label of the insecticidal product of your choice and follow the treatment through, otherwise there’s a high chance for the infestation to come back.
For all their strength and vigor, Alocasia plants are not immune to pests or bugs. As any other houseplant, they can be affected by an untreated pest infestation.
Although some bugs are not immediately noticeable because of their sneaky ways of hiding or their small size, it’s important to look for symptoms that point to an infestation and react based on those symptoms.
Don’t wait to apply the recommended treatment! The heavier the infestation, the harder it will become for you to get rid of the bugs on your Alocasia plant.