Paul Nickerson

Insecticides: As Easy as Blowing Bubbles…

In Pest Management on October 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Although “Indorm plants” are a wonderful addition to any room, these lovely furnishings can bring about unwelcome guests. A good friend of mine, who seems to have collect a small jungle in her room, had a roommate who did not fully understand one key difference between nursery plants, and plants that you find outdoors: critters.

A few short days after collecting a large bouquet from woods, small, white bugs seemed to take over a small portion of their dorm room. My friend, and her band of green minions, as her roommate now saw them, were quickly blamed for the problem.

What it is important to remember is that greenhouse, store-bought plants will not typically house pests as often as wild specimens. However, even the most careful indoor gardeners may face a problem with critters at one time or another. This fact can have even greater implications for “indorm” gardeners, as their plants are located in their bedroom, living room, dining room, and study, simultaneously.

To treat such a problem there are many insecticides that can be purchased from any number of gardening centers. However, due to the fact that this blog is written for an “indorm gardener” on a campus salary, I want to propose an equally effective, yet free, means by which to treat insect problems: Soapy Water!

The most common insects that find their way into your houseplants are typically soft-body arthropods, such as mites, white flies, and aphids. A light solution of soap (found in your floor kitchen or bathroom) and water, can be easily applied to your plants by use of a spray-bottle. It is important to understand a few key things before taking advantage of this free insecticide.

Firstly, this solution is a contact insecticide, meaning that the insects must be present, and well-soaked with the solution, in order for it to have an effect. Because of this, a repeated application of the solution may be necessary. Also, it is important to thoroughly wet the plant, being sure to spray the undersides of leaves, as these are usually forgotten during treatment.

It is a good idea to wash the foliage of your plant after you have resolved your problems with unwanted pests. Hard-water solutions may result in the appearance of soap resin. The use of a softer water will help to reduce the presence of scum.

Finally, the solution should be less than 2% soap. The soap can have a burning effect on the leaves, and therefore a weaker solution will keep from damaging the foliage of the plants. Certain plants are more susceptible to damage, and one should research their specific plant prior to application. I am not responsible for damage to any plants, and although this method as been used to hundred of years, it is not perfect, and there are many variables that will control the effectiveness of this treatment.

  1. First, I feel like I’m famous. Second, I wish I’d known about the soap before I bought my insecticide. Lol. Figures. Hahahahaha.

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