Tiny Bugs On Elephant Ear Plants: Identification & Control

Tiny bugs on elephant ear plants can be very worrying, and if there is a large infestation, it can cause severe damage to your plant.

Common pests on elephant ear plants include spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and many more. Some are easily visible to the naked eye, while others are more difficult to see.

This article will take you through all of the pests, what they look like, and tips for dealing with and preventing them in the future.

Let’s get straight into it.

Identifying Tiny Bugs On Elephant Ear Plants

Here’s a quick rundown of all the pests you might find on your elephant ear plant, what they look like, and the best tips for spotting them early.

Spider Mites

One of the most common pests you may encounter on your elephant ear plant is spider mites. These tiny, soft-bodied insects thrive on the underside of leaves, creating tiny webbing.

Red spider mites up close on a green leaf
Toby Young, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It might be a sign of spider mite infestation if you notice stippled or speckled leaves. Use a white paper towel to gently wipe the leaves’ backside; if you see black or reddish spots, it’s time to take action against these pests.


Mealybugs are small, white, cottony insects that love to feed on your elephant ear plant’s sap.

A mealybug on the end of a plant stem

If you notice white, fluffy masses on your plant, it’s likely a mealybug infestation.


Aphids are pear-shaped insects that can be green, yellow, black, or brown, and they, too, are sap-suckers.

A green aphid up close on a leaf

If you observe wilting leaves and a sticky substance (honeydew) on your plant, you might have an aphid problem. Check the stems and the underside of leaves for these tiny creatures.

Scale Insects

Scale insects come in various shapes and sizes, with some resembling miniature armored shells.

A scale insect up close on a green leaf
gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If your elephant ear plant has small, immobile bumps on the leaves or stems, the chances are that you’re dealing with scale insects.


These tiny, white, moth-like insects can often be found on the underside of your elephant ear plant leaves.

A whitefly up close on a green leaf
xpda, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They’ll quickly fly away when disturbed, making them relatively easy to spot. Their feeding can cause yellowing and wilting of leaves.


Last but not least, thrips are small, slender insects that can cause damage to your elephant ear plant indoors and outdoors.

A thrip up close on a cayenne pepper leaf
Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Look for tiny, black, or yellow specks on the leaves and silvery or yellowing leaf surfaces caused by their feeding.

Controlling Infestations

Here are some easy tips for controlling pest infestations.

Recognizing Early Signs Of Infestation

Pay close attention to the early signs to prevent an infestation on your elephant ear plant.

Look out for yellowing leaves, drooping leaves, and curling leaves. If you spot any webbing, this is a classic sign of spider mites.

Mealybugs have a white, fuzzy appearance. Many pests leave a sticky residue on the leaves that indicate they have been feeding on them.

Depending on how early you notice the signs, the chance of removing the pests and returning your elephant ear plant to health is much higher.

Using Natural Remedies

For small infestations, natural remedies can work quite well.

One popular method is to rinse the leaves with water to remove any pests. This can be prepared several times per week until all pests are removed.

Another option is to mix vinegar with the water to create a spray that can be applied to the leaves and then wiped down.

Applying Insecticidal Soaps And Oils

Insecticidal soaps or oils are a more aggressive way to deal with pests and work best for larger infestations.

These work through several mechanisms, although commonly by penetrating the insect’s cuticles, drying them out, and leading to dehydration and death.

Encouraging Beneficial Insects

Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, can help manage pest infestations on elephant ear plants.

These natural predators feed on various pests, including spider mites and aphids, without causing harm to your plants. Encourage them by planting flowers that attract them, like daisies or yarrow – both are beautiful and beneficial!

Elephant Ear Plant Care Tips To Prevent Infestations

Here are some easy care tips you can implement today to prevent tiny bugs from appearing on your elephant ear plant.

Watering Requirements

When you water your elephant ear plant, make sure not to overwater the soil – as excess moisture on the soil’s surface can attract pests.

Elephant ear plant leaves up close with water droplets on them
Avoid excess moisture on the leaves

Also, water the soil directly, not the plant leaves. Excess moisture on the leaves can also attract pests, so don’t get carried away.

Avoid Misting

Misting elephant ear plants is a bad idea for several reasons:

  • It only increases humidity for a short period.
  • The excess moisture on the leaves attracts pests and can promote fungal growth.

Instead of misting, use a pebble tray or humidifier to increase the humidity around your elephant ear plant. If it is kept outside, humidity shouldn’t be an issue.

Air Circulation

Good air circulation will help evaporate any excess moisture on the leaves or the soil, keeping pests away.

For example, suppose your elephant ear plant is planted outside next to several other plants. In that case, that area probably has very high local humidity due to transpiration alongside low airflow.

This can create the ideal environment for pests, as moisture will quickly build up on the leaves, especially if you water the plant with a hose.

Choosing The Right Soil And Pot

Elephant ear plants require well-draining soil.

If the soil doesn’t drain well, excess moisture will build up, attracting pests. At this stage, root rot may also start to affect the roots, which can lead to death.

To ensure proper drainage, select a pot with appropriate drainage holes.

A soil mix rich in organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, ensures adequate support and moisture retention. You may also consider using a soilless mix, succulent mix, or even cactus soil with peat added.

In Summary

If your notice tiny bugs on your elephant ear plant, it’s important to act quickly before the infestation becomes large and causes significant damage to your plant.

Consider implementing some of the tips above, like avoiding misting and getting water on the leaves during watering to keep pests away – you’ll find this is much easier than dealing with them in the first place.

Want to learn more about elephant ear plants? Check out some of our other articles below:

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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