Bugs on Fern Leaves

Close up of bugs

I bought this fern a few months ago and it has lived on the office desk at home ever since. The small white bugs are around 1mm in size and began on just one leaf about a month ago. I noticed several weeks ago when new leaves were developing that these bugs were migrating towards them. Now they are over all the leaves! I am not sure what I am doing wrong and how they got there. Does anyone know what these are and how to get rid of them?

Also, as inhumane as it is, I did squish one to see if it was mould. From what I can see, I don't think it is a mould.

4 Answers 4


You've got some sort of insect infestation. These are common and hard to avoid with most plants.

Squishing all the bugs by hand is generally the most effective method of control. By repeating this every week you can quickly deplete the population of insects.


I think it is male scale insects ; the females are round brown spots up to 1/4 inch diameter , I think I see some in your photo. If so, the females are the problem . Easiest to remove them with a finger nail. I have a large stag horn fern and I had to go over 100 fronds to get the scale, it took a week.


I'd always try manual removal first. Using a clean damp cloth, literally wipe the insects from the plant's leaves.

If manual removal does not work or the infestation is too heavy, I use white oil to control insects on plants such yours (Asplenium sp.).

White oil is a very light petroleum based product that is mixed with water for spray application to the top and underside of all leaves on your plant. The oil literally coats the insects in a film, which in turn starves them of oxygen. If you use this method, add a tiny squirt of dish washing detergent (not dishwasher detergent). The detergent will act as a surfactant, which will allow the spray to spread easily over all surfaces.

Its worth noting that insect infestation is often a sign of poor plant health.

In addition to removing the infestation, I'd recommend you investigate a couple of options to improve your plant's health.

  1. Larger pot;
  2. Pot saucer with high sides or pot with water reservoir (keep soil moist);
  3. Fortnightly to monthly application of a liquid tonic to improve soil biology;
  4. Monthly or two-monthly application of a liquid feed to supply nutrients.

There are too many to squish and their eggs are in the soil as well. These are white fly, I believe. This last picture were these squished? No matter, you need to wash this plant in the shower allow to dry then spray with NEEM, at night and out of doors. Above and below the leaves. I would then transplant into fresh POTTING soil and keep an eye out for reinfestation.

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