There are five primary groups of insects which attack house plants in varying degree of intensity. Aphids, otherwise known by the unhappy name of plant lice, are small, soft-bodied sucking insects which are usually found on the underside of the leaves. They vary in color from green to brown or black and are sometimes difficult to detect if their color is close to that of the leaves they are living off. You should first try to get rid of them with a good hard spray with clear water. If this doesn’t work, try one of the commercially available insecticides such as our own New Era African Violet and House Plant Spray. Several sprayings will probably be necessary to clear up the trouble completely as the spray must actually come in contact with the insect to be effective. Be sure to spray the plant with clear water after the last treatment.
Mealybugs are small white insects up to a quarter of an inch in length which are usually found on the underside of the leaves or on the stems. Spraying with plain water generally is not enough to dislodge them and so a combination of remedies should be used. First spray with water, then use a commercial insecticide. Follow up this treatment by going after the die-hard remaining few by hand. With a wisp of cotton wound around the end of a toothpick and dipped in alcohol you can pry off those that remain. Be sure that the plant is clean before returning it to its shelf since like all insects mealybugs reproduce with amazing speed and if you have missed a few you may have to repeat the whole process within the next few weeks.