It’s rare for indoor bromeliads to suffer from pests, but occasionally they can attract mealybug, scale and red spider mites. The first two are slow-moving insects that feed on sap and often the first symptom you’ll spot is stickiness on the leaves or nearby surfaces. As the insects feed, they release sugary sap, which becomes sticky and can attract black sooty mould. The best way to control these pests is to wipe them off manually with a damp cloth, but you can also spray with a systemic insecticide.
Tiny red spider mites are so small that they’re difficult to see. Look out for fine webbing between the leaves and yellow mottling on the surfaces. Mites are hard to control and few insecticides will work, but as they dislike a humid atmosphere, it’s worth spraying your plants with water and standing them on a tray filled with damp gravel. You can also try sprays containing plant oils.
Feature by Dr. Ross Bayton