Poinsettias and Insects

The holidays are here and the beautiful poinsettias are a very common flower for most house holds. They are often thought to be poisonous but research shows that poinsettias contain no chemicals commonly considered toxic. However, eating the plant is NOT recommended.
Several insects may attack poinsettias: white flies, fungus gnats, mealybugs and spider mites. The adult white fly looks like a small fly covered with white powder. Fungus gnats are small, dark-colored flies about 3 mm (1/8 inch) long. They can be found either on the plant or soil surface. The adults are more of a nuisance than a real problem, but the larvae do feed on plant tissue. Mealybugs are serious pests of poinsettias. These insects are soft-bodied and appear as a cottony mass, usually in the axis of the leaves. Gently cleaning the leaves with alcohol on a swab can control mealybugs, aphids and spider mites if caught early. Other choices for control are a variety of sprays. Read the labels carefully before using.
Most serious diseases that affect poinsettias are soil-borne and are primarily fungi. The easiest methods for controlling these disease organisms are by sanitation and periodic use of a fungicide.

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