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The 4 Most Common Zebra Plant Pests

The 4 Most Common Zebra Plant Pests

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So, you bring home a zebra plant, hoping to give your house a more aesthetically-pleasing look. A few weeks into its growth, however, you notice that it’s starting to discolor. Some leaves have even dropped off!

This is a classic sign of pest invasion. It’s your job to determine what kind of pest you’re dealing with so you can figure out the necessary countermeasures.

There’s no need to freak out, though. In this post, we cover the most common zebra plant pests, their effect, and how to deal with them.

Let’s jump right into it!

Common Pests That Target Zebra Plants

While zebra plants attract various pests and insects, you’ll notice a few common types that like to feed on their leaves.

1 – Whiteflies

With white skin and a triangular body, whiteflies can be as small as 1/12 of an inch, making them hard to identify.

Where Can You Find Whiteflies

Although it depends on where you live, Whiteflies prefer targeting indoor zebra plants, as the temperature is more moderate indoors, and they can’t survive in lower temperatures.

However, if winter is above 22℉ in your area, you can expect to see whiteflies in your garden. They can even reproduce outdoors if it’s not too cold.

Generally, you’ll find whiteflies on the undersides of your plant’s leaves. This is where they lay their eggs.

How Whiteflies Damage Your Plant

As they suck on your plant’s sap and moisture, whiteflies produce a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew. This substance promotes fungal diseases on the leaves, like sooty mold.

Gradually, plants get weaker and paler as whiteflies feed on their juices. Not only does this stunt their growth, but it also prevents them from completing the photosynthesis process.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies

Your first instinct might be to use a pesticide or insecticidal soap, but we recommend using more organic ways first. Sometimes, a good water flush is all it takes to have a pest-free plant.

2 – Aphids

Unlike whiteflies, aphids come in various colors, like yellow, black, red, or green. Some of them produce a waxy, white coating, which gives them a unique look.

If there isn’t enough food, adult aphids can grow wings to travel to other food sources. Despite being small, you won’t struggle to identify aphids, as they mostly exist in large groups.

Where Can You Find Aphids

As a rule of thumb, aphids exist where they can find food, whether it’s vegetables, plants, or trees. On a zebra plant, you’ll find them on the underside of the leaves.

How Aphids Damage Your Plant

Like whiteflies, aphids can infect zebra plants with fungal diseases by producing honeydew.

As aphids feed on your plant’s leaves, they start curling and turning yellow. Some types of aphids produce toxic substances that kill the leaves of your plant altogether.

It’s crucial to act quickly when you identify an aphid infestation, as the viruses they carry can stunt your plant’s growth.

How to Get Rid of Aphids

There isn’t one way to get rid of aphids. You might have to employ a bunch of different methods simultaneously.

Giving your plants a good water spray is a good first step. You also have to get rid of plant debris, as it’s where aphids lay their eggs.

If you find aphids in the crevices of the leaves, we recommend trimming the infected leaves to prevent a wider spread.

3 – Mealybugs

Luckily, mealybugs have a distinctive cotton ball-like appearance, which makes them easy to identify. They cover themselves with a layer of waxy material to keep predators away.

Where Can You Find Mealybugs

Different types of mealybugs prefer to live in different parts of the plant. Some of them prefer the roots of the plant, while others can invade the stem.

You’ll find that some of them prefer hidden locations like the leaf joint, while others can live on the surface of the leaves, with only a layer of wax as protection.

How Mealybugs Damage Your Plant

Mealybugs don’t eat the leaves of the plant. They merely feed on the juices inside it.

When mealybugs come in contact with zebra plants, they spread deadly diseases that kill your plant.

Besides diseases, they spread fungal infections, turn the leaves yellow, and prevent new leaves from growing.

How to Get Rid of Mealybugs

While you can use the classic water hose to flush them off your plant, using alcohol would be more effective.

Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, then dip it in water and soap. Wipe the plant with the cotton ball, and the alcohol should be enough to kill the mealybugs.

4 – Spider Mites

Although some spider mites can be less than 1/20-inch long, you can easily identify them through the webs they produce on the infested plant.

Where Can You Find Spider Mites

Similar to whiteflies, you can find spider mites on the underside of the leaves. However, female mites don’t live in one plant for too long.

As plants become heavily infested, female mites travel to other plants looking for food. If you’re growing your zebra plants outdoors, you might find spider mites on the edge of your garden.

How Spider Mites Damage Your Plant

Spider mites become a real threat when they come in large numbers. Zebra plants show signs of damage by changing the color of their leaves.

It starts with yellow spots on the leaves. Then, the entire leaf turns yellow/red. Gradually, the leaves get weaker and drop off.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites

Besides flushing them out, you can use insecticidal oil or soap to kick spider mites out of your zebra plant and deter them from coming back.

Final Thoughts

Now you know what common pests target zebra plants. Each type has different effects on your plant. Some can cause discoloration. Others can weaken the leaves, forcing them to drop off. The aggressive types, like mealybugs, can even kill your plant.

So, no matter what type of pests you’re facing, it’s crucial to act quickly to prevent these pests from making permanent damage.

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