Mealybugs: How To Kill Annoying Mealy Bugs

Have you ever seen mealybugs on houseplants or on other ornamental plants in the landscape? They look like cotton or blotches of powder all over the leaves. If so, you’ve seen them, naturally, mealybug control will be a priority.

close up of mealybugs feed on plant

Related: Organic Natural Pest Control Without Pesticides

Why Mealy Bug Control is Necessary

Mealybugs are white, soft-bodied, cottony-looking insects equipped with piercing/sucking mouth parts under order hemiptera. They are like plant scale insects and aphids in that they suck the fluids from leaves and stems, robbing plants of essential nutrients.

Mealybugs excrete large amounts of honeydew, this makes an excellent “growing soil” for a black fungus called sooty mold. Some of the known species of mealybugs that are likely to infest your home and garden include:

  • Pink hibiscus mealybug (Maconellicoccus hirsutus)
  • Hibiscus mealybug (Maconellicoccus hirsutus green)
  • Vine mealybug
  • Citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri)
  • Grape mealybug
  • Longtailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus)
  • Pineapple mealybug
  • Obscure mealybug (Pseudococcus viburni)

Sooty mould is unattractive and interferes with photosynthesis, it can also retard the growth of the plant. This can also make floors sticky. Sooty mold usually whithers away after removing the mealybug.

Watch For Ants Feeding On Mealybug Honeydew


Ants feed on the honeydew when you find ants crawling around your plants indoors or out or observed making a nice trail from a plant.

Take some time to examine your houseplants closely for these sucking pests.

Mealybugs do well indoors – they love and live very well in warm, dry environments. These pests have a life cycle of about 30 days.

These crawlers normally call home and adult females deposit their eggs where leaves join stems or along leaf veins. When the eggs hatch, their feeding will cause leaves to turn yellow and drop.

Damaged plants look withered and may have a sticky sap on the leaves or stems.

Some of the indoor plants most commonly affected by mealybugs include:


How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs

As with soft scale insects, an easy method of control is to apply alcohol with cotton swabs directly on the mealybug.

Wiping down the foliage regularly and helping plants clean will help keep mealy bugs in check.

If a plant becomes severely infested consider using safe natural organic neem oil sprays to control the pest or make your own homemade insecticidal soap or possibly horticultural oils. Neem can be found at your local garden center. Always read the pesticide label and wear appropriate safety equipment when applying any chemical.

For heavy infestations of mealy bugs, try spraying directly on the insects a mixture of 10 percent rubbing alcohol and 90 percent water. Repeat applications weekly until the bugs are gone.

Always test any insecticidal soap and alcohol mixtures on a small portion of the plant prior to full application as some plants may be sensitive to soap or alcohol. Systemic insecticides are another possibility, although I try to avoid them.

All Natural Control Of Mealybugs With Beneficial Insects

Using beneficial insects or natural enemies for biological control of mealybugs is another option. For example the beneficial insect known as the “Mealybug Destroyer” or Cryptolaemus montrouzieri technically and as “Crypts” for short. They, like the excellent garden friend the ladybug, C. montrouzieri are lady beetles. Unlike the ladybug, they hang around after release and do not disappear.

Leptomastix dactylopii makes another natural enemy of mealybugs. They are parasitic wasps that attack the citrus mealybugs. You can also go for other mealybug destroyers that also go after nymphs, aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, and more.

Source: Plant Talk Colorado
Image: Forest and Kim Starr | puuikibeach

Mealybugs, white, soft bodied, cottony-looking insects equipped with piercing/sucking mouth parts, sucking fluids robbing plants of essential nutrients.