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indoor plant pests - questions

Maarten van Helden Maarten.vanhelden at medew.ento.wau.nl
Wed Jul 12 10:19:24 EST 1995

In article <3tu500$mrs at news.wesleyan.edu>, rmuslin at wesleyan.edu says...
>Maarten and all,
>some left over questions,

>The phloem takes the nutrients to the plant and the xylem gets rid of the 
>waste, (is this right? - just making sure).

No No, the xylem vessels are used fior the transport of the water from the roots to 
the leaves. The phloem vessels transport the phloem sap which contains all the sugars 
and amino acids produced in the leaves to the places where these are needed like the 
roots (energy source) and growing tips (building material). Phloem sap contains 15 to 
20 % of sugar and high concentrations of amino-acids. 
"Waste" for plants is mainly carbondioxide and some other gasses which leave the 
leaves through the stomata on the leaves.

>>submerge the pot in water for a day or two. This should kill most of
>Some assumptions of mine that i'd like to confirm:
>1) submerge in lukewarm water?


>2) just submerge the pot not the entire plant, (right)?

Yes, roots usually can stand being submerged for a few days, 

>3) the ficus will suffer some from staying in the water for so long i 
>presume.  How much damage should i expect?

Not too much, be sure that after submerging you do not water the plant until the soil 
gets dry, to avoid rotting of some damaged roots.

>4) How can i prevent the soil in the pot from draining out or should it 
>stick to the roots.  If it does begin to drain out should i just leave it 
>and add more soil after the process?

Soil will stay in the pot, some top soil may floeat off, but this is a good 
opportunity to replace it with new compost. Usually over time unused nutrient salts 
are accumulating in the soil and especially in the top part where most evaporation 
occurs. Submersion will dissolve a lot of the overdose of these salts.

>>Pets ???, They are really interesting animals, apart from the fact that
>>they are small they totally look like nice wooly sheep or childern toys.
>I must admit, they are really cute.  Do you think stuffed plant insects 
>would sell over teddy bears?

Well, why not. You will have tio make them a little larger, but if you see how a 
young child -unspoiled by the adults fear of creepy crawlers- can study beetles and 
other insects, why not ??  

>Another question:
>In the past couple of days, these small little flying insects, (they 
>remind me of fruit flies), have been flying around the pot of the ficus. 
> I assume it has something to do with the little bugs i saw before 
>because none of my other plants that i had before have them.  Three 
>plants that i just got from a plant stand also have them though.  (Two 
>zinnias and one dusty miller).  What do you think these are?  I can't 
>find any description in the small section dedicated to plant pets in my 
>house plant book.  I've seen them crawling in and out of the hole at the 
>bottom of my pot and flying around the top layer of soil.  Will these 
>also be killed off by submerging the plant in water?  Can i submerge the 
>zinnias and dusty miller too?  Should they all be submerged in different 
Well, if they are really small (2 mm) and mainly black, they probably are 
"sciaridae", small flies which live in the soil. The larvea ("maggots") live in the 
soil from dead organic matter, but can also attact the roots when these are already 
in a bad condition. These little flies cause problems when plants are overwatered for 
long periods and usually disappear if the plant are only sparsely watered. Adults can 
be removed by using yellow stcky traps as are also used for whiteflies and (winged) 
aphids. Another reason to let the soil dry very well after "inundation".  

>Thanks for the pointer to the site.  I'm going to check it out later 
>fuzzies to Maarten and any others who take the time to respond,

||\\  //||  Dr. Maarten van Helden
|| \\// ||  Department of Entomology
||  \/  ||  Wageningen Agricultural University
||||||||||  Binnenhaven 7, 6709 PD
||      ||  Wageningen, the Netherlands
||      ||  Tel +31-8370-85118 Fax +31-8370-84821
||      ||  Email: <maarten.vanhelden at medew.ento.wau.nl>

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