A while back a store bought sunflower was absolutely covered in little green larva looking things. I left it outside but they appear to have migrated to my hibiscus. I've been spraying it with a water + soap + rubbing alcohol solution. None of these mites seem to be alive and I see no movement, but they still seem to multiplying around new leaves. They leave a flaky yellow crumb looking sluff behind, have small green larva and adults seem to be the brown guys in this picture.

hibiscus mites

Any ideas on what they're called or how to kill them completely?

  • looks like whitefly alright – Jason Delaney Dec 14 '17 at 14:34

These are whitefly. You can positively identify them by gently shaking a leaf. If you see white insects fly up, there you go.

Control is possible with 5 ml dish soap to one litre of water. Mix and then use a rag or cloth to wipe the top and bottom of all the leaves. If you put too much soap in then you will need to rinse the leaves with water as the fatty acids in the soap can burn the leaf in high concentrations. Do this three times at five to six day intervals.

As the insects fly they can move on to other plants. Isolate the infected plant in another room until the treatment is over

  • Could this be mealy bug? harvesttotable.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/… – stormy Dec 13 '17 at 5:06
  • When plants are infested with an insect, or disease the reason is usually that the plant is weakened somehow, lack of fertilizer, too much fertilizer, too much water, too little water. Killing this insect will not cure your plant of the main cause if indeed this plant is not in tip top health. Some of the leaves in the periphery look...like they are trying to say something that your plant is not a happy plant. What soil did you use? Fertilizer? – stormy Dec 13 '17 at 5:12
  • @stormy mealy bug is much larger, does not normally fly and usually lives on the underside of the leaves or at the axils of the stems – kevinskio Dec 13 '17 at 12:08
  • @stormy changing watering practices or fertilizer frequency are good suggestions but the original poster asked what was the bug and how to control it. Over watering is the number one cause of house plant death but it takes a long time to undo the damage to the roots – kevinskio Dec 13 '17 at 12:11
  • Thanks guys. The sluff doesn't look like a mealy bug. The larva certainly look like whitefly, but I'm not seeing anything flying when shaking - just the sluff dislodging. The thing other than larva and sluff I can see are very small, brown, and appear to have antenna or legs. That could be an instar crawler stage. It got repotted recently and is indeed recovering from being under fertilized. I'll continue the soap treatment. – Archonic Dec 13 '17 at 20:49

I'm not sure these are whitefly - but then I'm not sure what they actually are either, nor am I convinced there's not more than one pest present.

Presumably, this is a tropical hibiscus that you've moved inside to overwinter, since they're not actually houseplants, so it may have come in with an infestation which has thrived in the warmth of your home. I'd be inclined to use neem spray, making sure you spray the whole plant, including the tops and undersides of leaves. You may need to repeat the treatment a week or two later. If you have other plants indoors, best to check those over thoroughly to make sure they're not infested too.

Information on hibiscus and 'growing' them indoors here, including a (somewhat cursory) mention of pests https://www.thespruce.com/grow-tropical-hibiscus-inside-1902761

  • There could indeed be more than 1 pest. Thanks for the info! – Archonic Dec 13 '17 at 20:49

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