PEI

Tips to protect your plants from hitchhiking pests

With vegetables being harvested and potted plants coming in for the winter, home gardeners need to take care they are not bringing any unwanted pests inside.

The best protection is prevention

Mealy bugs can hitch a ride into your home. (Shutterstock)

With vegetables being harvested and potted plants coming in for the winter, home gardeners need to take care they are not bringing any unwanted pests inside.

"You should really be thinking about what else you are bringing in with your plants," said Agriculture Canada entomologist Christine Noronha.

Aphids, scale insects, mealy bugs and spider mites can all attack your house plants, said Noronha, and can all hitch a ride on plants and produce coming inside.

"The main ones that you see are spider mites. One day you may wake up and you'll see all this webbing on your plants. Those are spider mites," said Noronha.

Scale insects infest a leaf. (Shutterstock)

The best protection is prevention, she said. Inspect your plants and produce for any uninvited passengers before you bring them in.

And then keep an eye on them for a few weeks afterwards. Any pests that avoided your scrutiny are likely to quickly get to work.

Aphids can spread to plants all over your house. (Frank Peairs/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org via Associated Press)

"You bring them in. They just wake up and say, 'Well, it's nice and warm here,' so they're happy and they are fairly active, and then they start reproducing in the house," said Noronha.

If you do notice the infestation you can get rid of it by wiping down the plant's leaves, or spraying it with an organic insecticidal soap every day for a number of days.

Inspect your plants outside before you bring them inside, suggests Christine Noronha. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

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With files from Island Morning

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