Do Pothos Plants Attract Bugs?

Bugs in Pothos
Bugs in Pothos (Source: EllisBell46/Reddit)

Many of my friends and relatives tell me that they would love to bring a plant home and into their bedrooms. After all, who doesn’t like waking up beside lush green leaves?

However, they very well know that they wouldn’t just bring in greenery but annoying bugs.

No one wants to wake up and find ant colonies on their kitchen counter. Hence, keeping their concerns in mind, I always suggest getting a pothos plant.

Bugs aren’t attracted to healthy pothos. However, if the plant is not given with the right conditions, the possibility of bug infestation is significant. Bugs are attracted to high humidity, excessive watering, and poor ventilation, to name a few.

And on those rare occasions, if you still find a few bugs and beetles crawling here and there, relax. I can help you restore the good health of your plant and your surroundings!

As long as you detect the infestation at an early stage, your pothos will not have to endure any stress.

What Kinds of Bugs are Common in the Pothos Plant?

Considering that most of the pests do not find pothos delicious (due to the presence of calcium oxalate), only a handful of bugs are found to attack pothos.

Also, pothos is toxic for various kinds of insects! Isn’t that terrific news?

BugsWhere do they feed?Effects of bugs on Pothos
Mealy BugsBeneath the Leaves and Nodes1. Plant looks like it is covered with snow.
2. White spots on Leaves
Spider MitesMainly on back of the leaves and stemover the plant.
2. Leaf yellowing and discoloration
AphidsFound underneath leaves and feed on stem and leaves.1. Secrets liquid on leaves and stem
2. Tiny white flakes all over the plant.
3. Yellowing and weakened leaves.
Fungus GnatsFeeds on leaves and mainly on soil 1. Damage root system
2. Causes deformities on leaves
ThripsFeeds on shoot and new leaves1. White and silver streaks on leaves
2. Tiny brown hole on leaves
3. Waxy coating
ScalesFeed on plant sap inside the tissue1. Secret sticky liquid on plant
2. Leaf drop and yellow spots on plant
3. Discoloration and stunted growth.
WhiteflyFeeds on plant foliage, stems and branches1. Wilted leaves.
2. Yellowing leaves
3. Plant stops growing

1. Mealy Bugs

Unlike other pests, mealybugs can appear pretty and pink. They are soft-bodied and appear as pink, white, or grey cotton-like structures on the backside of the leaves and nodes.

They suck on the plant sap and drink the life out of your pothos!

pothos plants attract bugs
Ant on a plant (Source: Unsplash)

If you see that some healthy leaves are falling out of the pothos plant, check the nodes.

These bugs feed on the nodes. Since they secrete sugary substances, if your pothos gets infected with mealybugs, be sure to see some ants in the next few days.

2. Fungus Gnats

Do you see tiny fly-like creatures buzzing around your pothos? These are fungus gnats that mature in and around wet soil.

They are generally brown to grey and hover around in groups.

As they mature, they heavily feed on the leaves of the plants, causing severe deformities.

They feed on fungus in the soil and damage the root system. 

If you want to confirm their presence, shake your pothos lightly, and watch them buzz around.

Mature gnats easily spread around the living spaces creating trouble for the owner.

A nasty fungus gnat infestation could make way to your bedroom and kitchen as well.

3. Aphids

If your pothos has aphid infestation, they could figuratively give your pothos a headache.

They come in a variety of colors like brown, black, green, yellow, and red. Aphids are about 2 millimeters in size and are ovally shaped.

They always stay in groups, mainly beneath the leaves. 

They make sure to remain out of plain sight, too clever to be an insect! A sticky substance secreted by aphids enables them to stay intact on the plant.

They feed on the stem and leaves, leaving back tiny white particles.

pothos plants attract bugs
Aphid on a leaf (Source: Unsplash)

If your pothos has weak and deformed leaves with tiny white specks, be sure to check beneath the leaves.

There might be a surprise (or a shock) waiting for you! As small as they seem, the disruption they create is enormous.

4. Scales

Pothos occasionally get infected with soft scales and armored scales.

So if you have a glazing coating on your pothos with a bumpy appearance, you got yourself scales to deal with! They may be black, brown, or grey.

They don’t technically eat the plant; instead, they pierce and suck on them. Scales feed on the plant sap from inside the tissues.

They might leave your leaves with yellow spots. Also, watch out for leaf drops and stunted leaves.

A waxy coating indicates soft scales. The slippery body and sticky liquid secreted by these bugs make it difficult for the owner to remove them from the plant.

In contrast, armored scales possess a hard shield-like body. And again, they are a challenge to get rid of, as the protection makes it impossible for insecticides to kill them.

Well, good luck getting rid of these nuisances!

5. Thrips

These are the minute fringe-winged bugs that are extremely hard to detect with naked eyes. They are pale and lay eggs on the leaves.

As the infestation begins, they appear as white and silver streaks on the leaves. Once mature, they turn brownish.

Thrips mainly attack the growing points such as shoots and new leaves, distorting their appearance.

They also tend to leave tiny brown holes on the leaves. If you see brown or white specks on the leaf nodes, remove them immediately.

6. Spider Mites

Well, if you have seen tiny cute spiders forming silky webs on the back of your pothos leaves, they are spider mites.

No, they are not the babies of giant spiders (many of us mistaken them to be). They come in a variety of colors; however, most of these are lightly colored.

They reproduce at high speed. If left undetected, they will spread all through the leaves, stem, roots, soil, and even throughout your plant shelves!

pothos plants attract bugs
A magnified spider mite (Source: Unsplash)

Sometimes it might be a challenge to spot them as they are very minute and super-fast.

However, you can identify their presence through a thin web-like structure throughout the pothos plant.

If you see that your pothos is exhibiting signs of discolored yellow leaves, hurry up and get yourself a magnifying glass!

7. Whitefly

Whitefly is pale and semi-transparent moth-like flies; only they are smaller than moths. Their body is covered in a waxy substance.

The hardest part is, they lay hundreds of eggs at once and multiply at a geometric ratio!

Additionally, getting rid of them is very problematic as they fly away as soon as there is any disturbance in the surrounding.

Whitefly is very common in the hot seasons. And, on a brighter note, they cannot get through the freezing temperatures in winter.

They feed on the leaves and stems or anything that appears green.

Just as scales, they feed on the plant sap and leave behind dew-like substances.

Wilted leaves, leaf drop and yellow spots are a sign of whitefly infestation.

Are you a pothos lover and really worried about their stunted growth? Do your Pothos have Holes?

Read more: Why are there Holes in my Pothos Leaves?

What Causes Bugs Infestation in Pothos?

Although pothos plants do not attract bugs by any means, numerous environmental factors can contribute to a bad infestation.

Let us find out how to give our pothos plants a proper and safe environment, keeping the pests at bay!

1. Increase in Humidity

Pothos love humid air, and so do the bugs! Too much of anything is harmful, right?

Just as human settlement began and flourished beside rivers, bugs love the presence of water around them.

Pests get attracted to a humid environment as they cannot store enough water in their tiny body. 

They need moisture 24/7 to stay alive and multiply.

2. Overwatering

pothos plants attract bugs
Watering plants (Source: Unsplash)

Excessive watering is a widespread problem in indoor plants like pothos, as the soil inside the pot takes a very long time to dry.

When you leave the soil soggy for too long, it creates a picture-perfect environment for the bugs to develop and flourish.

Similarly, fungus and bacteria thrive in a wet and warm environment. 

Overwatering is seen as the worst habit in plant lovers killing lots of indoor plants.

3. No Airflow

Like every living being, plants require proper ventilation and air circulation to thrive. 

In the absence of airflow, the soil fails to dry, leading to excessive bacteria and fungus multiplication. 

And, the bugs are going to thank you as they feast upon the fungus and grow their family.

4. Misting Errors

Misting is essential for indoor plants. It gives them some hydration boost and, at the same time, cleans the plant keeping them looking fresh.

However, too much misting can be detrimental for your pothos as it increases the chances of pest infestation.

Bugs love water, be it on the leaves or in the soil. And, I am sure you know that very well by now!

How to Get Rid of Bugs on your Pothos?

The crucial factor is to get rid of bugs. So, first and foremost, isolate your infected pothos from all other healthy plants.

Don’t forget to check all your plants for traces of pests. Remove the infected leaves or stems and burn them (do not simply shove them over in the dustbin).

Check the roots and prune them if you see any signs of infestation. Next, run them over tap water and clean the entire pothos from head to bottom.

Next, sterilize the pot and fill it with a brand-new potting mix. Now, carefully plant your pothos.

Please place them in a dry spot with plenty of indirect light and keep isolating.

Remember to uses plant-specific insecticides specially labeled for indoor plants.

There are different solutions to get rid of bugs. Let’s go through them.

1. Streaming Water

Run the streaming water on your infested pothos. Don’t overwater your pothos. Ensure to drain excess water as the moist soil may grow bacteria and other diseases related to moisture.

Water your plants during the daytime.

2. Neem Oil

You can opt for a more organic solution and use neem oil to remove the bugs. However, it is toxic and works for almost all kinds of pests.

Neem oil alters the brain and hormones of the bugs. As a result, they stop eating and reproducing, ultimately causing death.

Your pothos might look frail and limp for a few days. But worry not. Depending upon the degree of the infestation, they will recover in 10-15 days.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

Clean the leaves and stem with a diluted rubbing alcohol to physically remove any traces of pests.

Rubbing isopropyl on the bugs that stick to your plant will help you get rid of them.

Make a solution by combining one part alcohol with three parts water and rubbing it immediately on the bugs.

If the infestation isn’t too bad, it will help.

4. Dishwashing Liquid

Dishwashing liquid is a very popular bug repellant. The solution of dishwashing liquid and water gets rid of almost any kind of bugs instantly.

Mix one part of dishwashing liquid with six to seven parts of water. Mix thoroughly and spray on the affected areas.

5. Garlic and Water Solution

Garlic has a very pungent smell that bugs explicitly hate. Take about four to five cloves of fresh garlic and grind them together with a cup of water.

Fill this solution into a spray bottle and spray lightly on your pothos. Or, place a few crushed garlic on the topsoil. As easy as that!

As much as it is essential to eliminate bugs on your pothos as soon as you see them, it is mandatory to eliminate them.

Unfortunately, there are instances where a plant parent thinks the bugs are gone, but they keep reappearing.

Hence, make sure you continue with the treatment for at least two months. And, make sure to check your pothos once a week for re-infestation.

6. Use Horticulture Oils

Horticulture oil works well for your pothos. They remove the bugs without damaging the plant.

Spray your pothos with some plant-based oil to suffocate the pests and prevent them from feeding on your plant.

Spray the oils at least twice a month to avoid any future infestation.

7. Diatomaceous Earth

If you are having a hard time getting rid of the sneaky scales, here’s your go-to solution. Diatomaceous earth kills the bugs instantly by getting into their bodies and drying them out.

8. Sticky Traps

I am very sure most of us have used the yellow sticky traps to get rid of fruit flies in our kitchen. But did you know that they could be used as bug traps for your pothos? Use it in combination with other insecticides for a long-lasting result.

Or, make your budget-friendly sticky trap. Apply petroleum jelly or tacky glue on yellow paper. Hang them close to your pothos and attract the bugs to death!

9. Pyrethrum

This is the best solution if you have flying bugs on your pothos. It is a gentle botanical treatment that comes in a powder spray form.

Spray these over on whiteflies to paralyze them quickly. Then, to get the best results, use the pyrethrum once every four days until the bugs are no longer around.

10. Insecticidal Soap

Another useful remedy for your plant is insecticidal soap, which is both environmentally friendly and non-toxic to your plants.

Because of the rising usage of chemical pesticides, they became redundant. On the other hand, organic pesticides are seeing a surge in popularity as consumers pay more attention to them.

You can make insecticidal soap at home using the following steps:

  • First, get yourself a spray bottle.
  • Fill the bottle with one tablespoon liquid soap and around four glasses of water.
  • Shake vigorously.
  • Avoid making it too harsh by adding extra liquid soap in the hopes of quickly eliminating bugs. Instead, your plants would become dehydrated and die.

You can easily get these products on Amazon.

RemediesPest Control TypeBrand
Neem OilOrganicNatria 706250A
Rubbing AlcoholChemicalVaxxen Labs
Horticulture OilOrganicMonterey
Sticky TrapsOrganicGarsum
PyrethrumChemicalBASF
Insecticidal SoapOrganicNatria 706230A

Precautions to Keep Pothos Safe from Bugs

Like they say, “Safety is better than treatment.” You can take the following precautions to keep your pothos bugs free.

1. Track the Humidity in your Living Space

pothos plants attract bugs
Bugs on a leaf (Source: Unsplash)

If you live in a hot, humid climate, keep your humidifier away from your pothos. The humidity levels go up during the rainy season; therefore, make sure to water your pothos less frequently.

2. Watering Habits: A Little Goes a Long Way!

It is always advised to let the few inches of topsoil dry out completely before watering. Doing so will prevent the bugs from getting attracted to your pothos and dehydrate the already present bugs.

3. Provide Proper Ventilation

Avoid placing your pothos in dark corners or bathrooms with zero air circulation. Also, avoid keeping them stacked up in groups. Instead, it is best to place your pothos beside an airy window or on a tabletop where the ventilation is excellent.

4. Misting Accurately

Don’t haphazardly mist your pothos and leave them to dry on their own. Misting as little as twice a week will yield maximum benefits. First, however, make sure to dry the plant with a clean cloth removing all the water.

Conclusion

Plants speak through their leaves. So if something is bothering your pothos, inspect the leaves. They will give you an idea of what pests you might be dealing with.

Well, if you are reading through this, chances are your pothos is infected with bugs.

And now that you know exactly how to get rid of them go ahead and eradicate them for good. Don’t let them nibble away your prized pothos.

Lastly, pothos is a beautiful house plant. Don’t let the fear of bugs and mites prevent you from adding them to your living spaces.

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