Q. Now that I've brought my plants indoors for the winter, I'm starting to see a lot of bugs. Help!
A. Some of those bugs may have ridden inside with your plants and must now be thinking that they're in the best of all possible worlds: lush plant growth and warm temperatures. Here's how to get rid of the pesky critters: To keep mealybugs and scale under control, try dipping a cotton swab in alcohol and rubbing the infected area. Check especially the joints where leaves join stems. To treat spider mites, take your plant to a sink and spray the foliage with water; spider mites don't like being wet. If the infestation is extensive, use insecticidal soap; that's a non-toxic product and safe to use indoors. Make sure you treat the undersides of the leaves too. To combat insects such as aphids, spray leaves with water. To combat flying insects like whiteflies, hang sticky traps (sticky yellow paper available at home and garden centers) in an inconspicuous place near your plants. As soon as you spot an infested plant, isolate it so the critter population won't spread. Find another spot in the house that offers the same or better conditions and move (and treat) the plant there. Remove leaves with fungus problems so the disease won't spread. Give your plants what they need in terms of light, soil, moisture and nutrition. A plant that's not under stress from physiological causes is better able to cope with insects.